It was marvellous to have somebody with this incurable and irrepressible curiosity about the natural world.
He seemed to know all the extraordinary sides of it, that a more conventional middle of the lane biologist would not know about. It didn't matter what it was, you could just ring up Ivan, ‘Have you heard of this?’ And he nearly always had.
Irrepressibly cheerful, irrepressibly curious, inquisitive... Someone who relished the bizarre, the strange, remotely interesting things that most people would overlook, or never hear about… The odder it was, the stranger it was… The more delighted he was in it.
– Sir David Attenborough
Get to know Ivan Polunin
Dr. Ivan Polunin was a medical doctor who spent most of his working life teaching medical students in Social Medicine and Public Health in the University of Singapore, and in researching the natural history of Southeast Asia.
He arrived in Malaya as a young doctor in 1948 to serve his military service after the war. He stayed on, married and became a Singaporean PR, living here till the end of his life in 2010. In addition to his writings, he documented his research extensively through film, photography and musical recordings of traditional music.
See him in action
Where his work was featured
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