China / Newsmaker

Yao to join survivalist Bear Grylls in the wild

By SUN XIAOCHEN (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-03 02:41

To promote man-and-nature harmony, retired basketball star Yao Ming has embraced the challenge from British outdoor adventurer Bear Grylls to join the shooting of a wilderness-survival TV reality show.

Trekking through wilderness and feeding celebrity guests bizarre foods has been Grylls' routine in his hit adventure TV series, Running Wild with Bear Grylls. The show has featured a glittering cast, including US President Barack Obama, who accompanied the British survivalist into the wild.

Yao's management team confirmed on Friday that the former NBA star will appear in the show's Chinese version, which will be jointly presented by Grylls, Shanghai Media Group and Discover Asia Pacific.

Yao, according to his management team, has long admired Grylls' self-challenging courage and outdoor survival skills. They met during a speech in London in October by Britain's Prince William to promote a campaign against the illegal wildlife trade.

Yao will participate in the shooting of one episode of the show's new season later this month after he returns from a US trip to attend his Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Grylls invited Yao in a post on Wednesday on Grylls' personal account on the social networking platform Sina Weibo.

"Your great contribution to charity after you've retired has made the entire society ... feel even more proud of you. ... With the spirit of combatant and cooperation, you are the exact warrior whom the wild adventure always tries to call," Grylls said in the post.

Yao, responding on the micro blog account of the Shanghai Sharks, the Chinese Basketball Association club that he owns, said he is ready to accept the challenge.

Humans are losing the ability to survive in the wild, he said, so "it's necessary to rediscover the survival instinct so future generations can live in harmony with nature and animals".

Since retiring from basketball in 2011, Yao has been an advocate of wildlife and nature protection. He has made a number of public service ads for the fight against the ivory trade and opposing consumption of shark fins.