Entomologist and television personality
Born in 1952 in Indonesia; immigrated to Holland, then New Zealand, 1978; married Julie (a teacher); children: Tristan, another son, two step-children. Education: Wageningen University, MSc (honours).
Addresses: Agent —Karen Kay Management Ltd., PO Box 446, Auckland 1, New Zealand; 2/25 Sale St., Freemans Bay, Auckland 1, New Zealand.
Scientific advisor, Nature Conservation Council, Wellington, New Zealand, 1979; contract scientist, Mt. Albert Research Centre, New Zealand, 1979-81; contract scientist, New Zealand Forest Service, 1981-82; entomologist, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Auckland, New Zealand, 1983-96; began making radio appearances, 1987, including Ruud's Awakening , Newstalk ZB; began publishing articles and columns, 1988; freelance entomological consultant, 1992—. Television appearances include: The Enduring Land (special), TVNZ (New Zealand); 1990; Early Bird Show , TV3 (New Zealand), 1991, 1992; Maggie's Garden Show , 1992-2003; What Now? , 1994; The Bughouse (documentary), TV One (New Zealand), 2001; The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs (special), Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, 2003-04; Buggin' with Ruud , Animal Planet, 2005—; New Zealand Today Show.
After years of working as a scientist in New Zealand, Ruud Kleinpaste transitioned into a media career and became known as "The Bug Man" for his expertise in entomology (the study of insects). He worked in radio, print, and television, sharing his belief that people should appreciate and save bugs, not kill them.
Kleinpaste (pronounced KLINE-pahss-tuh) was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to parents who were natives of the Netherlands. By the time he was a toddler, his family had moved to Holland when Dutch citizens were forced to leave Indonesia. There, Kleinpaste received the bulk of his education. He was interested in natural history as a child, and spent much time in the field studying birds.
In college, Kleinpaste studied forestry-related subjects. He earned his degree in silviculture (the study, cultivation, and management of trees in the forest), animal ecology, and conservation. While a student, Kleinpaste became interested in entomology through the father of a college friend who worked in that field. Kleinpaste learned much about insects from him.
While a college student, Kleinpaste had been traveling throughout Europe and other countries in the world. He decided he did not want to live in Europe because of the harshness of the climate. In the late 1970s, after a brief stint in Sri Lanka, Kleinpaste moved to New Zealand.
Kleinpaste worked briefly in a timber mill, then spent the next few decades in scientific posts in New Zealand. His first post was in Wellington, New Zealand, for the Nature Conservation Council, where he served as a scientific advisor. Later he worked for Mt. Albert Research Centre. A very educational experience came when Kleinpaste worked for the New Zealand Forest Service for 18 months. During that time, Kleinpaste conducted a study in the Waitangi State Forest on the brown kiwi's ecology. He studied the bird's diet, among other things.
His interest in entomology was increasing and he soon was able to make it his primary career. By 1983, he was hired as an entomologist with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Auckland, New Zealand. Through 1996, Kleinpaste worked at a plant health diagnostic station on various projects, from identifying pests to issues related to biosecurity. He eventually resigned because his burgeoning media career was taking up too much of his time.
Kleinpaste's second career began in radio in New Zealand in 1987. He had a show called Ruud's Awakening which ran in some form for at least 17 years. The show was only an hour at first, but later expanded to three hours. During the show, he answered his listeners' questions about bugs.
A year after his radio show began, Kleinpaste expanded to the written word. He began publishing pieces in magazines and newspapers, primarily in New Zealand. Some works were columns, while others were articles. He regularly offered advice to gardeners in his pieces. Kleinpaste also published his first book in 1997, Scratching for a Living. This book was a humorous, but factual, look at many bugs and their purposes. He continued to write while his career expanded into television. He published his second book in 2005, Backyard Battlefield , which was also about insects.
By 1990, Kleinpaste was working in television, again beginning in New Zealand. He made guest appearances on and created segments for talk shows, children's shows, and morning shows. Kleinpaste regularly appeared on the children's program, What Now? , for some time. He also had a long-running stint on Maggie's Garden Show from 1992 to 2003. Entomology was not his only topic in such appearances. He also spoke about related natural history. In 1990, for example, he served as a presenter of The Enduring Land , a documentary about the history of New Zealand's agriculture.
In the early 2000s, Kleinpaste made the leap to an international audience, though he still appeared on television in New Zealand. In 2001, he had a documentary on New Zealand television called The Bug-house which showed many different types of bugs up close and personal in their world through detailed camerawork. Kleinpaste told Frances Grant of the New Zealand Herald , "I think the documentary is saying that we think we are the cleverest animal species in this world, being the most advanced predator on the earth, sea and air. But we have nothing on the insects. They are the big force in this world."
Two years later, Kleinpaste made another bug documentary, this time for Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel in the United States. Called The World's Biggest and Baddest Bugs , it served as a pilot for a series which began airing on Animal Planet in 2005. The series was called Buggin' with Ruud. Reviewing the show, Joanne Weintraub wrote in the Milwaukee Sentinel , "The point in almost all of Klein-paste's stunts and stories is the same: We have no way of living without insects, so we should learn to live with them and like it."
Buggin' with Ruud was filmed around the world, including segments taped in the United States and Australia. The program showed Kleinpaste interacting with many types of bugs. He wanted to show how interesting bugs were, what purpose they served, debunk myths, and compare what insects do to human activities. Kleinpaste participated in some stunts that drew comparisons to another Animal Planet star, Australian Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter. In one segment, Kleinpaste was inadvertently stung by killer bees 30 times due to a wardrobe error, when he had 50, 000 of the bees on his face. Another segment focused on bug wranglers who make bugs look good in Hollywood movies.
Kleinpaste has made a career of explaining how important bugs are in the world through his many educational ventures. He told Kate O'Hare of Zap2it.com, "I'd done some research and come to the conclusion that the world as we know it is run by insects, not the dollar, not the stock market, not the white mice, according to Douglas Adams in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy , but by bugs."
Scratching for a Living , Random House, 1997.
Backyard Battlefield , Random House, 2005.
Associated Press, July 22, 2005.
Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand), June 4, 2005, p. 5.
Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand), March 12, 1998, p. 18.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, June 20, 2005.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI), June 14, 2005, p. E1.
New York Times , June 15, 2005, p. E7.
New Zealand Herald , August 13, 2001.
PR Newswire U.S., January 13, 2005.
Southland Times (New Zealand), December 2, 1997, p. 12; October 1, 2004, p. 5.
Washington Post , June 15, 2005, p. C15.
"Animal Planet's 'Bug Man' Suffers For Science, " Zap2it.com, http://www.zap2it.com (October 15, 2005).
"Biography, " Karen Kay Management, http:// www.actors.co.nz/viewbio.asp?id=172 (October 15, 2005).
"Ruud Kleinpaste—The Bugman, " TV One, http:// tvnz.co.nz/view/page/410940/467959 (October 15, 2005).
"Trustee—Ruud Kleinpaste, " Project Crimson, http://www.projectcrimson.org.nz/WSMApage/ 0, 1567, 16273-0-article-32705, 00.html (October 15, 2005).
— A. Petruso