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My Car: TV host loves his 'escape vehicle' Jeep

Dave Salmoni, adventurer, zoologist, animal trainer and a television host with his Jeep Grand Cherokee and his Harley Fat Bob.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Dave Salmoni

Profession: Zoologist, TV host

Age: 35

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Hometown: Sarnia, Ont.

Notable achievements:

Lived in the African bush for five years teaching captive-bred Bengal tigers how to survive in the wild. This later became Discovery Channel's Living With Tigers.

Hosted Discovery Channel and Animal Planet series Into The Lions Den, Into The Pride, Rogue Nature and World's Deadliest Towns

Named one of Cosmopolitan magazine's "Fun and Fearless Males" in 2008 and one of People's "Sexiest Bachelors" in 2009

Upcoming: Hosting the new Mark Burnett-produced series Expedition Impossible, which premieres June 23 on CTV.

He's a thrill seeker - a zoologist and animal trainer who has chronicled his adventures on television. Dave Salmoni has hosted several Discovery Channel and Animal Planet programs including Into The Pride, Rogue Nature, and World's Deadliest Towns.

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Now he stars in a new series called Expedition Impossible from executive producer Mark Burnett on ABC and CTV. And when Salmoni isn't in the African bush, he still drives a rugged, rough ride that can tackle anything in its path. He owns a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited.

What's the best feature on your Jeep?

My lifestyle is all over the place. When I am in Canada I can throw as much stuff in it that I need and head up north to my cottage or go camping. It's super reliable. It never gives me trouble. If I'm in a place where I need more power or I'm in the snow I put it in 4WD. I'm never in a situation where I'm worried about my vehicle getting to where I need to go.

Anything you'd change on it?

I wish it wasn't a V-8. I wish I had a hybrid. I wish I had something that was more eco-friendly because I do spend so much time working in conservation. Ethically, I spend so much time preaching conservation and then I get home and drive a big V-8. But I drive it so little I can justify it.

I wish it was a little cleaner. I'm in and out all the time. I live downtown [Toronto]so I come in from the country where I've gone camping or up to the cottage, I throw everything in it and then I race back so I can make my next flight back to wherever I'm going. It ends up getting dirtier.

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Are you mechanically inclined? Can you fix a vehicle if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere?

I used to have a 1980 Land Rover. It was a six-cylinder and I remember being stuck on the top of a mountain in the middle of South Africa and having to use my GPS phone to call my mechanic. He literally told me to hit the carburetor with a rock. It made me feel so manly. Every five or six days it would die and I'd pop the hood, get a big-ass rock and I'd hit the carburetor and it would drive.

I'm constantly changing tires. In South Africa, you get punctures every three friggin' kilometres in the bush. There's old wives' tales if you wake up with a puncture, you're supposed to go back to bed. And it's true, every time you wake up with a puncture you know there's more bad shit that's going to go down.

I've been in situations where you're getting charged by elephants and the engine doesn't start and like, 'Oh God! I've got to get out of here!' I've been in a lot of situations where I wish I knew a bit more about mechanics.

What does a Jeep say about you?

It says that I'm more of a utilitarian person. I wouldn't buy a vehicle to display any form of wealth. I have this lifestyle and I need something that facilitates it. You can tell I'm outdoorsy. I don't care I bought the car with some scratches. It's not an image situation; it's a useful car for the lifestyle I lead.

What was your first car?

I bought my grandmother's car from my brother. It was an Eagle 2000 GTX -a four door sedan that my grandmother never drove. My brother, who was the oldest of the grandchildren, bought it from her. I bought it from him after university. Then I moved to Africa and I had a Land Rover that was given to me. It was my car for five years.

Why did you buy a Jeep?

I bought it used. ... after a break up. I was living with someone in New York and I had saved some money for an engagement ring. We broke up and the very next day I took the money, bought a truck, put all my stuff in it and drove back to Toronto. I think that's why I like it so much. It was my escape vehicle from a life that I narrowly escaped. I love my truck, my wonderful truck. And I'm glad I didn't get married.

Do you like to drive fast?

My insurance company will tell you that I do. I get caught at least once a year doing something faster than I wish I had. I tend to get more speeding tickets than any of my friends.

I got a big, big speeding ticket on my bike. I was on Highway 7 going 80 - I'm not a fast rider. I was getting blown around by some trucks I was behind so because it's a two laner I ripped around it, rather than taking my time and the cop caught me passing. I was literally three kilometres away from having my bike taken.

What bike do you own?

I have a Harley Davidson Fat Bob. It's a recent passion. One of my best friends is a musician in Ottawa and he's always ridden motorcycles. I've been saying to him if I ever had a summer where I was in Canada I'd take a course, get my licence, and buy a bike so the two of us could go ride around and do some bike trips. It took about six years before I had a summer off in Canada and I got my license.

If I could bring you the keys to any vehicle what would it be?

A sports car - either a '64 'Vette - really cool, well done, reliable because I can't fix it or a Jaguar roadster.

The interview has been edited and condensed.

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