Today world-renowned naturalist and global treasure Sir David Attenborough paid a visit to the Australian Museum.

The living legend was awarded the AM’s highest honour, Lifetime Patron — in recognition of his lifetime’s work in the fields of natural science and conservation, at a special event marking the start of our 190th anniversary.

And to show just how much he means to us, the Australian Museum named its newly discovered genus (a large Tasmanian snail) Attenborougharion.

In presenting the honour, Australian Museum Trust President Catherine Livingstone AO said that Sir David’s contribution to generating awareness of the natural world was unprecedented.

“There is no one else – you have no peer. Australia and the international community have benefited from your curiosity, knowledge, and unending commitment to the natural world to bring us the stories, and make us aware of the challenges we face, in a way that no one else has been able to do.”

Sir David said that he was deeply honoured to receive the award from Australia’s first museum.

Sir David Attenborough at the AM
Sir David Attenborough receives the Australian Museum’s highest honour, Lifetime Patron, and had a new genus named after him, at a special event marking the start of the AM’s 190th anniversary year. u000dSir David was awarded Lifetime Patron in recognition of his lifetime’s work in the fields of natural science and conservation. The Australian Museum (AM) also named its newly discovered genus after him, the Attenborougharion rubicundus – a snail 35-45 mm long, found only in Tasmania. u000d Image: James Morgan
© Australian Museum

“The Australian Museum, when it was founded 190 years ago, had the extraordinary and unique responsibility of starting the first systematic collection of the animals and plants of an entire continent,” said Sir David Attenborough.

“Today, it is a scientific centre of world importance, and it is a great honour to be made one of its Lifetime Patrons.”

Sir David also said he was chuffed that the new genus had been named in his honour.

"There is no greater compliment that a Museum, or indeed a Natural Scientist, can pay to another one, than by naming a family, and a name, after that individual. So Attenborougharion rubicundus will be on my wall for a long time to come, and I accept it with the greatest of pleasure and my utmost thanks to you all," he said.

This isn’t the first time Sir David has visited the AM, with a relationship with a Museum spanning more than 30 years.

Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, said that Sir David’s enduring support of the 190 year old museum was invaluable.

“Sir David’s remarkable contribution throughout his 90 years – almost as long as the Australian Museum has been in existence, give or take a century – is outstanding.

“He has inspired our scientists and visitors alike, dating back to his earliest visits hosting lectures for AM Members in the 1980s, to visits to the AM’s collection of ancient fish fossils in Canowindra, to more recent trips to the AM’s Lizard Island Research Station as part of filming for his Great Barrier Reef documentary series,” she said.

The recognition of Sir David Attenborough as Lifetime Patron to the Australian Museum kicks off a year of activities celebrating our 190th anniversary.

As part of the celebrations, the AM invites everyone to spend their birthday with us for free. Claim a free entry on your birthday by registering here.