Nicholas “Nick” Van Owen (June 29, 1964 – present) is an American video journalist and environmental activist. He is best known for his work with Nightline in the later part of the twentieth century, during which time he reported on several major conflicts. He is a member of Earth First!, and has worked with Greenpeace. Van Owen is a passionate supporter of environmental justice and animal rights. Due to this combination of experience and political belief, he was involved with the 1997 Isla Sorna incident, and therefore played a pivotal role in the revelation of de-extinction to the public.
Van Owen’s involvement with Earth First! and his actions on Isla Sorna have led to his being called an ecoterrorist. However, there is currently no evidence that Van Owen is on any government’s terrorist list.
The given name Nicholas is of Greek origin, roughly translating to “victory of the people.” It is sometimes mistakenly thought to mean “rock” or “stone,” but this is incorrect. Nicholas has existed as a given male name since at least the 430s BCE, though the modern spelling was not made conventional until the 12th century. This name was popularized by the Christian bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra, who was one of the major inspirations for the Santa Claus character. Nicholas is commonly abbreviated to Nick, as is the case with Nick Van Owen.
His surname is spelled with a capital V in Van Owen, contrary to the more conventional “van Owen” with a lowercase v. The name refers to the home of one of his distant ancestors; van is a type of affix in the Dutch language called a tussenvoegsel. The way it is used here means that Nick Van Owen’s family name originated in a place called Owen (or, more likely, a place whose name is anglicized as Owen). However, its precise origin is not specified. In any case, Nick Van Owen appears to have a wholly European family lineage, with some Dutch ancestry.
Nicholas Van Owen’s place of birth is not identified at the moment, but his date of birth is June 29, 1964. According to files kept on him by John Hammond between 1995 and 1997, his social security number is 564-87-6345.
He became interested in journalism and world events during his youth. When he was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, television news was treated as a serious matter, unlike the entertainment-focused news programs which would become popular in later decades. Van Owen learned about various problems facing the world, including both humanitarian and environmental issues, and became motivated to increase awareness of them.
Journalism career and activism
As a young adult, Van Owen was employed by ABC News Nightline, a late-night television news program. He became a photographer and video documentarian. In 1992 at the age of twenty-eight, he attended the University of California at Berkeley to major in field journalism. Despite having a 3.8 GPA, he dropped out before the end of the academic year to better spend his time pursuing his passions, such as environmental justice.
Van Owen’s career as a documentarian took him on assignment to document disasters occurring around the world in the mid-1990s, including some of the worst humanitarian crises of the age. One of the first major events he reported on was the Bosnian War, which began on April 6, 1992 after a series of violent incidents. Van Owen was extensively involved in documenting this war. Political upheavals in Yugoslavia had caused the nation to begin breaking apart, and the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the latest to pass a referendum for independence. However, much of the Bosnian Serb population rejected the outcome of this referendum, leading to the beginnings of political violence. Cities and towns were destroyed indiscriminately, and acts of ethnic cleansing were committed. Around 100,000 people were killed, along with mass systemic violence occurring throughout; it was one of the most devastating conflicts in modern European history. The war ended on November 21, 1995 with the signing of a peace agreement; in the ensuing decade more than sixty people were convicted of war crimes related to this conflict.
The second major event Van Owen documented was the Rwandan genocide, which occurred between April 7 and July 15, 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. The day before the genocide began, Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana was assassinated, ending peace talks between the warring factions in Rwanda; within twenty-four hours the military, police, and civilian militias began the systematic killing of influential Tutsi people. It soon grew to include hundreds of thousands of ordinary civilians as well. The Tutsi ethnic group was the main target of the genocide, but politically-moderate Hutu and Twa people were also killed. While many countries around the world were shocked by the violence, none intervened to stop it from happening. Only the resumption of the Rwandan Civil War on July 15, 1994 ended the genocide, as the Rwandan Patriotic Front captured government territory and forced those responsible for the genocide into neighboring Zaire. According to the Constitution of Rwanda, over one million people were murdered during the genocide.
The third major world event Van Owen documented was the First Chechen War, which began on December 11, 1994. This conflict began after the Battle of Grozny in November 1994, in which the Russian government attempted to secretly overthrow the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. After this effort failed, the government seized control of the mountainous region of Chechnya, but was repelled by Chechen guerilla warfare. Despite Russia’s overwhelming advantage in terms of both technology and personnel, the Chechen guerilla fighters demoralized Russian troops to the point where nearly all Russian citizens opposed the war. Boris Yeltsin’s government declared a ceasefire on August 31, 1996 and a peace treaty was signed a year later. Officially, the war killed 5,732, though historians suggest that the true number may have been as many as 14,000; there are no records of the number of Chechens killed in the war, but historians believe it was at least 3,000 and possibly as many as 17,391. Between 30,000 and 100,000 civilians were killed, twice as many injured, and five times as many displaced. Cities and towns were reduced to rubble during the war.
While reporting on humanitarian crises, Van Owen also kept up his passion for environmentalism, becoming active in the cause. He was involved with the radical environmental activist group Earth First!, an organization known for direct action such as sabotaging pipelines and logging projects. In the later 1990s, he volunteered for Greenpeace; his choice to volunteer here specifically was largely in part due to Greenpeace’s largely female membership. Van Owen later stated that Greenpeace was 80% female, which strongly influenced his decision to participate. The role-playing book released alongside The Lost World: Jurassic Park describes Van Owen as having fought whaling during his time as an activist, placing himself between whales and harpoon-ready whaling ships.
Sometime by early 1997, Van Owen’s time at Nightline came to an end. If he had kept up with stories of a less important nature, he might have seen a television interview in 1995 in which the mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm claimed that a company called International Genetic Technologies had cloned extinct animals on a small Costa Rican island called Isla Nublar for a theme park called Jurassic Park. Few people believed Dr. Malcolm, considering him a crackpot, and several major newspapers ran stories about the absurdity of his claims. Although the interview occurred while Van Owen was working as a news reporter, it is unlikely that he would waste time documenting an outlandish conspiracy theory like this.
Information kept on Van Owen at the time gives other information about him: his address at the time was 2578 Renata Circuit, Bungalow E in Los Angeles, California. His phone number was (310)555-6345, and his fax number was (310)555-3747. His height was listed in the digital file as 6’3″ and his weight as 200 pounds; however, the biometrics in Hammond’s physical files as shown on the InGen IntraNet website state that Van Owen was instead 6’4″ and 185 pounds.
In early 1997, Van Owen was contacted by the mysterious and eccentric John Hammond, the CEO of InGen. Agreeing to meet him at his New York City estate, Van Owen learned that the rumors of de-extinction were true; Dr. Malcolm really had witnessed dinosaurs on Isla Nublar. Hammond revealed that the operation had been bigger than this, and that a second island called Isla Sorna had been used as a production facility for Jurassic Park. InGen had abandoned both islands in recent years, but somehow the dinosaurs had survived on their own. No longer the capitalist he had once been, Hammond sympathized with the animals and wanted them to live natural lives in the wild, but InGen did not agree. A movement had been made to depose Hammond as CEO, and it would go into effect that May 26th. Hammond knew that once he was out of the way, he would be succeeded by InGen’s Chairman Peter Ludlow, who had ambitions to open a version of Jurassic Park and recoup losses incurred in 1993. Ludlow planned to venture to Isla Sorna with a team of hunters, termed the Harvesters, and capture animals to populate a park facility in San Diego.
In order to protect the welfare of the creatures InGen had created, Hammond was organizing a counter-expedition called the Gatherers. He had already found a lead scientist, a biologist named Dr. Sarah Harding who specialized in both paleontology and carnivore biology. A man called Eddie Carr would be acting as field equipment specialist, providing the team with a mobile laboratory and vehicles. Van Owen would make an ideal candidate for the team’s video documentarian, considering his experience in dangerous environments and his belief in animal rights. Hammond also bestowed onto Van Owen knowledge that the others were not privy to: the fact that Hammond was soon to lose his position was not publicly known, and Ludlow was naturally keeping his own plans under wraps. Of all the team members, only Van Owen knew about this. Hammond hoped that the Gatherers could arrive to Isla Sorna, document the dinosaurs in the wild, and reveal the footage to the public before the Harvesters landed on the island; this way they would have something to help sway public opinion in favor of making Isla Sorna a wildlife preserve. However, if Ludlow should arrive before the Gatherers’ mission was done, Van Owen was tasked by Hammond with sabotaging the Harvesters. With his experience at Earth First!, he was the man for the job.
A fourth member of the team was planned: Dr. Ian Malcolm himself, the man who had sacrificed his university tenure and public reputation to try and bring the truth forward. Malcolm had not yet been contacted, but this would come soon enough. It turned out that Dr. Harding and Dr. Malcolm were dating; with Dr. Harding heading to Isla Sorna in advance of the other Gatherers, Malcolm would have an incentive to join them. Harding left to arrive on the island on May 22, 1997 to perform preliminary scouting and research, with the rest of the team scheduled to join her on May 29. In the meantime, Eddie Carr worked on the team’s equipment, preparing it for the mission.
Two days ahead of schedule, Malcolm arrived to Carr’s business in New York demanding immediate departure. He had learned of his girlfriend’s involvement in the mission and was determined to rescue her straight away. Van Owen joined the others at the garage, arriving at around the same time as Dr. Malcolm’s young daughter Kelly who came to the site to see her father. While Malcolm and Kelly were upstairs, Carr and Van Owen went over the equipment they had so far; not all of it was field-ready, but the RV and its mobile lab were prepared, as were two Mercedes M-Class vehicles. Carr had also prepared an observation platform, which he called the High Hide, to allow the Gatherers to safely observe dinosaurs without interfering with their environment; the Hide would be disguised using inedible local plant life.
That day, May 27, the Gatherers departed for Costa Rica. The equipment and personnel were shipped by cargo plane, making it all the way to Costa Rica in less than twenty-four hours. From the country’s western coast, they took an ocean barge called the Mar del Plata across the Pacific, crossing 207 miles of open sea. Along the way, Van Owen conversed with the barge’s captain Carlos, who relayed to him local superstitions about Isla Sorna. The island was a part of an archipelago locally called Las Cinco Muertes, meaning “The Five Deaths.” Supposedly, fishermen who strayed too close to the islands had gone missing in recent years. While these tales were foreboding, Van Owen remained confident that they were doing the right thing in going here. These dinosaurs were animals that everyone had assumed were gone forever, now living and breathing again, but there were so few of them that any exploitation could cause permanent damage. These creatures had been brought to life through human intervention, and now they needed to receive the legal protections afforded to any endangered species. Ludlow could not be allowed to succeed.
The Gatherers disembarked the Mar del Plata at a small lagoon on Isla Sorna’s eastern coast, heading inland to search for an ideal place to set up camp. Carlos and his son Higo would await them, not lingering near the island any longer than they needed to. Somewhere on the island, Dr. Harding’s GPS was sending out a signal; she had not been answering her satellite phone, but Carr reassured everyone there were numerous reasons that this might be. Still, they had not heard from her since she arrived to the island, so finding her was a high priority. The Gatherers established a camp near the cliffs at an inlet in the northern part of Isla Sorna, away from the interior of the island where Hammond had shown predator territories, and trekked into the forest to search for Dr. Harding.
They located her backpack, torn up and abandoned, in a small creek. Fearing for the worst, they started calling out for her, but were greeted instead by a group of animals: Van Owen was no paleontologist, but Stegosaurus was unmistakable. The huge creatures were even more astounding than he had imagined. He photographed them as they passed by, though Malcolm warned that this feeling of awe and wonder could quickly turn to danger. While Van Owen was photographing the dinosaurs, he was surprised by Dr. Harding, who had been following the stegosaurs too. She was happy to see them, and pleasantly surprised that Dr. Malcolm had indeed come to Isla Sorna. Harding described to them her discoveries, including the fact that the dinosaurs showed parental care; she also described how the animals had survived even without the lysine supplements that InGen believed they were dependent upon. It turned out that lysine, as a readily available protein found in natural food sources, could be obtained and passed along the food chain without human intervention. This was proof that the dinosaurs could survive and thrive on their own, so long as Van Owen could get the footage he needed.
As they tracked the stegosaur family, they came upon a small clearing along the stream bed where the dinosaurs had stopped to feed. Their youngest juvenile was now visible, and Dr. Harding borrowed Van Owen’s Nikon camera to take some close-up shots of the small stegosaur. She also took a moment to pet the dinosaur; while this interaction was not a a part of their mission Van Owen could hardly blame her. Here she had an opportunity to reach out and feel Earth’s ancient past. The moment was short-lived, though: the Nikon began making noise while processing the photos and startled the young dinosaur, causing its parents to rush in and defend their young. Carr and Dr. Malcolm struggled with Carr’s rifle, which was armed with a lethal toxin; Carr was unwilling to use it against the parent stegosaurs as they were only defending their young, but Dr. Malcolm would do anything to keep Dr. Harding safe. Ultimately, all three of them were helpless as Dr. Harding evaded the stegosaurs’ spiked tails, hiding out of sight until the dinosaurs vacated the area. As the spooked herd moved away, the Gatherers were able to make their escape too.
Van Owen had gotten incredible images and footage of the dinosaurs. Deleted scenes for the film describe him filming more encounters after the stegosaurs, such as a mating pair of Mamenchisaurus. As they trekked through the redwood forest back to camp, he stated to the others that he believed the footage they already had was sufficient to sway public opinion; nothing like it had ever been seen before. On the way back, though, they spotted smoke rising into the sky from their campsite, and rushed back to put the fire out before it spread. The fire looked purposefully set, though, as though someone had planned to use it to cook food; moments later it turned out this was precisely the case. Kelly, Dr. Malcolm’s daughter, had stowed away in the RV, not knowing where the Gatherers were going but wanting to be a part of it.
Malcolm attempted to contact the Mar del Plata, but his ineptitude with technology (as well as his arguments with Kelly and Dr. Harding) delayed him. While he struggled, Carr and Van Owen waited outside the mobile lab. Soon, the sound of helicopters reached them, and they discovered that they were no longer alone on Isla Sorna. Their departure ahead of time had turned out to be fortuitous, as Ludlow’s Harvesters were arriving that very moment. Carr was confused as to why InGen had sent a second team, and while the two scientists had known that Hammond was being fired, only Van Owen had ever been privy to Ludlow’s plot. They watched from a distance, remaining out of sight, as Ludlow’s hunters drove into the island’s northern game trail in pursuit of their prey.
The Harvesters were led by a big-game hunter, Roland Tembo, who Van Owen had previously encountered. Although the InGen operation was meant to round up dinosaurs for captivity, it was clear that their hunters did not have animal welfare at the forefront of their minds as the creatures were treated roughly. Some of the hunters, including their equipment specialist Dieter Stark, were outright cruel. It was clear to Van Owen and the others that InGen could not be allowed to become stewards of these animals again.
By nightfall, InGen had succeeded in capturing a large number of dinosaurs, mostly herbivorous ones, and brought them in cages back to the Harvester encampment. The Gatherers located their camp, taking stock of the situation. Van Owen now revealed his secondary mission: to sabotage Ludlow’s plans by any means necessary. The Gatherers split up; Malcolm took Kelly back to the trailers while Carr went to set up the High Hide. He and Dr. Harding infiltrated the camp quietly while Ludlow was conferencing with the Board of Directors, cutting vehicle fuel lines and unlatching the dinosaurs’ cages. One of the largest cages held a bull Triceratops, and this more aggressive animal’s cage door was padlocked rather than just latched; Van Owen used bolt cutters to break the padlock and let the horned dinosaur free.
Freeing the dinosaurs worked better than they had expected, as the angry Triceratops attacked the Harvester camp before taking its infant and heading back into the woods. Its attack led to the spilled gasoline being ignited by the Harvesters’ campfire, causing explosions and destroying most of the Harvester equipment. The chaos agitated the other dinosaurs, causing them to stampede out (some, like the Pachycephalosaurus, joined in attacking the Harvesters). While the camp was in disarray, Van Owen made for the area where Roland Tembo and his partner Ajay Sidhu had set up a hunting blind; a vehicle explosion had driven the hunters out, but their trap was still in place. They had a wounded baby Tyrannosaurus pinned down in a small clearing, apparently being used as bait. Tembo probably meant to use the baby to draw out his real quarry, an adult tyrannosaur, and kill it for a trophy.
Dr. Harding was apprehensive about bringing the baby tyrannosaur back to camp, knowing it was dangerous and that Malcolm would oppose it. But the young dinosaur’s leg was fractured, and neither of them could in good conscience let the injured creature back into the wild knowing it would have no chance at survival. The hunters were most likely the reason its leg was broken, so Van Owen and Dr. Harding took the responsibility of undoing the damage wrought by human intervention. They drove back to camp with the dinosaur in tow. Malcolm was as upset as Harding had predicted, but he was powerless to stop their efforts now, so he took Kelly to the High Hide as Van Owen helped Harding get the dinosaur on one of the workbenches.
Van Owen used his belt to secure the dinosaur’s jaws and helped Harding examine it, using a small dose of morphine to calm it down and numb the pain. The theropod, a young male, was found to have a hairline fracture in its right fibula when they x-rayed its leg. This injury was small enough to heal on its own, but the dinosaur would need help to last until then. Harding wrapped the leg in gauze after setting the broken bone. While they worked, the trailer’s phone rang, but Harding needed Van Owen to apply pressure while she treated the leg, so neither of them could answer it. There was not quite enough adhesive to finish securing the gauze, so Van Owen volunteered his chewing gum. Harding finished it in such a manner as to ensure it would fall off on its own after a time, once the leg was healed. Van Owen prepared a syringe of amoxicillin to clean the wound, and their work was nearly done.
Suddenly Dr. Malcolm rejoined them, having sprinted from the High Hide through the jungle. He admonished them for ignoring his phone call to the trailer, but within seconds his warning became useless: the tyrannosaur’s mother arrived, ramming the Mercedes off the side of the cliff. The father peered into the RV, and moments later the mother arrived to the trailer. Both had followed their son’s scent and distress calls to this place. Cautiously, they brought the young tyrannosaur out to the front of the RV, letting it go free to rejoin its parents. Reunited, the family made its way toward the jungle.
This had been a harrowing experience, but they had succeeded. The young tyrannosaur was now safe, and it would recover from its injury to live as natural a life as it could. With the Harvesters sabotaged and Van Owen’s camera full of footage, Isla Sorna had a chance at protection. But unfortunately, their success was short-lived: Malcolm felt the impact tremors of something huge charging the RV, and had only seconds to warn the others before the tyrannosaurs rammed them and overturned the mobile lab.
The vehicle was pushed backward until the rear car slid over the edge of the cliffs, and Van Owen tried along with Malcolm to open the doors so they could escape. Unfortunately, damage to the vehicle had caused the door to become stuck, so they were forced to take hold of whatever they could as the rear car tilted over and was left hanging. Van Owen was highest up of the three of them, and his handhold was secure, but Dr. Harding was not so lucky. She had taken hold of the refrigerator door, and her weight caused it to pull open. Unable to keep her grip, she fell down and impacted the safety glass at the rear of the car. It did not break, but she cracked it, and another impact would cause it to shatter. Malcolm descended to help her, while Van Owen noticed a satellite phone caught on a lab lamp fixture. The angle of the lamp was downward, and the phone was swinging back and forth. Each swing’s momentum caused the strap to slip slightly down the lamp toward its end. Its weight would be enough to break the glass. He tried to reach it, but it was too far away. The best he could do was warn the others. The phone fell, but Malcolm managed to get Dr. Harding’s backpack within reach, and its strap served as a lifeline when the bulky phone shattered the window.
All three of them clung on, hoping for some way to escape safely, but rain was starting to pour down. This made the floor and walls of the trailer slippery as water trickled in through the broken accordion and windows, and was turning the dirt near the cliff edge to mud. Slowly but surely, the trailer’s weight was pulling the RV closer to the precipice. As all hope seemed lost, a car horn sounded, and Eddie Carr arrived to rescue them. He sent down a rope, reassuring them that Kelly was safe in the High Hide. Climbing out was arduous work, with the rope even coming loose at one point and sending them tumbling down; miraculously all three of them managed to grab onto the rim of the trailer’s rear window. When Carr secured the rope again, they began to climb once more. Meanwhile, Carr was using his Mercedes to try and keep the trailers stable, as the mobile lab’s weight was still pulling the RV steadily over the edge.
As they reached about the halfway point of their climb, gravity suddenly won. By clinging to Carr’s rope and tucking their bodies in, the three of them were able to avoid being struck by anything as the trailers descended the cliffs and were destroyed on the rocky coast below. Carr’s Mercedes, still tethered to the RV, followed shortly after. The canopy was torn open, suggesting something had gone catastrophically wrong. When they reached the top, they found an ironic rescue awaiting them: the InGen party had wised up to the fact that they were not alone. They had tracked down the Gatherers’ campsite, finding Kelly alone in the High Hide. Kelly was able to confirm that the tyrannosaurs had been drawn back to the camp a third time by the commotion and killed Eddie Carr. That was why the trailers had suddenly dropped over the cliff.
Van Owen and the other Gatherers now had no choice but to join forces with the InGen party. At the Harvesters’ destroyed encampment, they learned that neither team had any remaining radio equipment, as the Harvester radios had been destroyed by the fires and the Triceratops. All the Gatherers’ equipment had gone over the cliffs. InGen was supposed to radio the Harvest Base, located on the freighter S.S. Venture stationed offshore, for an airlift out. But without a radio or satellite link, there was no way to request the airlift. Van Owen and the Gatherers similarly understood that Carlos would not bring the Mar del Plata anywhere near the archipelago if he did not have to. Now, their only hope for rescue was to radio the Venture another way. Van Owen quickly picked a fight with Dieter Stark, the hunters’ equipment specialist; Roland Tembo was none too fond of him either, recognizing Van Owen from his Earth First! activism. Tembo, though, understood that fighting among each other would not get them to safety any faster. Instead, they listened to Ludlow, who had a plan for escape. When the island was being used by InGen, a village had been built for the laborers in the central part of the island where geothermal energy was most efficient. In theory, the generator could be restarted, and then the phone in the Operations Center could be used to contact the Venture. The only problem was the location: getting there would be a difficult hike, but that area was also the nesting ground of a Velociraptor pride.
There was no time to lose. Carr’s death had been a tragedy, but as Tembo pointed out, it bought them precious time since the dinosaurs would not emerge to hunt again right away. Van Owen took the opportunity to criticize Tembo’s lifestyle as a big game hunter, since the dinosaurs only hunted for food while Tembo hunted for pleasure and glory, but Tembo did not take the bait. Instead they moved out posthaste, making for Isla Sorna’s remote interior.
As they trekked, Van Owen and Tembo took the opportunity to trade their environmental philosophies. Van Owen could not understand why, with the Tyrannosaurus alive for the first time in millions of years, Tembo’s only way of expressing his appreciation would be to kill it. Tembo likened it to Reinhold Andreas Messner’s ascending Mount Everest without oxygen, engaging in a death-defying experience in order to truly appreciate life. Tembo described his hunt not as an act of hedonism, but as a time-honored battle of wits between two animals designed for survival at any cost. Human hunters, with all their tools, were still only second best to the pure evolutionary predator power of the Tyrannosaurus rex, and Tembo considered it an act of deep respect to challenge this beast. Van Owen, while he now had a better idea of what drove his rival, still opposed him. No matter how much respect Tembo showed to his quarry, and no matter what he did to even the playing field, the tyrannosaur was still only hunting for survival while Tembo was doing it for an adrenaline rush. During the exchange, Van Owen requested to see Tembo’s elephant gun, a B. Searcy & Co. sidelock double rifle, in a fairly transparent attempt to take the gun. Tembo, easily recognizing Van Owen’s intention, did not allow him to touch it.
The journey went all through the night and well into the next day. So far no incidents had occurred, but they sometimes heard tyrannosaur roars in the forest surrounding them, meaning the predators were still about. Partway through May 29, as they reached the point a few miles north of the Workers’ Village, the group stopped for a brief rest. Tembo left his elephant gun unattended for just a couple moments, but this was long enough for Van Owen to sabotage it. He removed the bullets, leaving only the empty casings.
During the rest stop, Dieter Stark went missing. He had not been a well-liked member of the Harvester group, with few close friends other than a man called Carter, but his disappearance did not bode well. The hunters were beginning to lose morale, and Ludlow’s efforts to cheer them up were fruitless. With just a few more miles to go, Van Owen motivated the hunters with something they actually wanted: to get off Isla Sorna alive. His attitude resonated with the hunters more than Ludlow’s performative optimism, and they began to treat him as a leader instead of Ludlow.
Before the final leg of the journey, the group set up a temporary camp near a hilly ridge just north of the Workers’ Village. Van Owen slept on the ground with most of the hunters; there was only one tent left, and the Harvester party gave it to Dr. Harding and Kelly so they could have privacy from the otherwise all-male group. While Van Owen and the others rested up, Tembo scouted the area to prepare for this difficult part of the trek. Midway through the night, Van Owen awoke to the sounds of screaming: the male Tyrannosaurus was in the camp, right in the tent. Fortunately, the Gatherer team members in the tent escaped safely, joining Van Owen and fleeing as the female tyrannosaur joined the attack.
Kelly stumbled in the human stampede, slowing down the Gatherers. The female tyrannosaur was pursuing them down a narrow ravine leading into the field of elephant grass near the village, and with nowhere to go, Van Owen ducked into a small cave behind a waterfall. Kelly and Dr. Harding joined him there, as did the Gatherers’ paleontological consultant Dr. Robert Burke. The Gatherers managed to stay just out of reach, but Dr. Burke was not as lucky; he was startled by a snake in his shirt collar, and flailed into the tyrannosaur’s maw. He was dragged out and killed. Moments later, Dr. Malcolm slipped past the dinosaur and joined his fellow Gatherers in the cave. Once the tyrannosaur was no longer lurking outside, the Gatherers made a run for the village.
The open field between the village and the hills had already been entered by the Harvesters, but for some reason the female tyrannosaur was no longer pursuing them. As they began to cross the field themselves, they discovered Ajay Sidhu’s abandoned backpack and heard the sounds of a struggle farther into the elephant grass. Animal noises nearby confirmed their fears: they were in the Velociraptors‘ hunting grounds, and they were potential prey.
As the raptors clashed with the Harvesters, the Gatherers made a break for it. Since the raptors had already selected their victims, the Gatherers were mostly unimpeded until they hit the ledge at the south end of the field. Not having seen it coming, they tumbled over the side, Malcolm hurting his weak leg on the way down. Unable to walk, Dr. Malcolm stayed behind to recover, Dr. Harding and Kelly keeping by his side so he would not be vulnerable. Van Owen, meanwhile, pressed on into the village by himself to radio the InGen Harvest Base. To get there, he had to cross through a dinosaur graveyard, filled with the remains of animals the raptors had fed on. The skeletons gave way to artificial structures, the gated entrance to the derelict Workers’ Village.
Nature had taken its toll on the place, but the buildings still stood, and the Operations Center stood at the far end of the compound. Van Owen cautiously made his way down the street, keeping an eye out for more raptors, but for the moment the village was abandoned by both man and beast. He reached the central facility, entering and searching for the communications office. Finding this, he radioed Harvest Base with the contact information InGen had given him. Van Owen relayed to InGen’s authorities the dire nature of their situation, though he left out his own role in stranding them all there, and gave their coordinates for rescue. Helicopters were dispatched from the ships InGen had stationed around the area. Finally, salvation was on its way.
Unfortunately Isla Sorna was not prepared to just let the Gatherers leave easily. Three raptors entered the village compound, no doubt searching for the Gatherers. Van Owen’s comrades had come into the village, Malcolm having recovered enough of his strength to walk, and were unaware of the danger. Van Owen stayed hidden in the Operations building, the raptors chasing his friends around. The other Gatherers managed to stay out of reach long enough for a helicopter from InGen’s flotilla to arrive, and Van Owen flagged down the others. The Gatherers fled to the Operations Center helipad, boarding and escaping the island.
On the flight out, they passed over the temporary base camp, where they witnessed trouble brewing. The male tyrannosaur had not made it out of the campsite after his attack, and appeared to be tranquilized. He was held in a cage with helicopters and InGen personnel preparing him for transport. Van Owen revealed that it could have gone worse, though; he had saved this creature from Tembo’s elephant gun by stealing the bullets. The animal was still in InGen’s clutches, but it was at least alive. Its son had also been captured from its nest, and Ludlow planned to bring it along with its father to the mainland.
Aftermath of the 1997 incident
The helicopter took them back to San Diego ahead of InGen’s fleet. Ludlow was returning to the United States by jet, so he arrived before them, but they landed some time before the S.S. Venture was set to arrive with its tyrannosaur cargo. Van Owen parted ways with the other Gatherers at this point for unknown reasons. Why he was not with them for subsequent events has not yet been disclosed, but he may have been facing legal consequences for his act of sabotage, or else working to prepare for the imminent reveal of Isla Sorna to the public and his mission to advocate for the dinosaurs’ rights. Meanwhile, Drs. Malcolm and Harding drove to InGen’s waterfront complex to protest Jurassic Park: San Diego while Kelly retired to Malcolm’s apartment for some well-deserved recuperation.
Van Owen was not present for the events that transpired next, but he certainly would have heard about them. Transport of the tyrannosaur had not gone as planned, with the animal passing into unconsciousness due to a tranquilizer overdose and InGen desperately trying to save it. During these efforts, deckhands accidentally damaged the restraints holding it in place, and it broke free in a drug-induced mania. Crew were unable to regain control of the ship after the captain was killed and the Venture collided with the harbor at San Diego. That early morning on May 30, the public did learn about de-extinction, but not in the way that InGen or Hammond had anticipated. The tyrannosaur was unintentionally released from confinement on the ship after the collision, stumbling confusedly into the city streets while Ludlow and the Gatherers separately tried to resolve the situation. Ludlow ordered the San Diego Police Department to kill the adult animal, and Drs. Malcolm and Harding desperately tried to save it from this fate. They broke into the Jurassic Park facility, taking the juvenile from InGen custody and using it to lure its father back to the Venture before the SDPD could mobilize and kill the creature. They succeeded just in time. Both dinosaurs were sealed in the ship’s cargo hold. Ludlow went missing during the incident, having last been seen pursuing the scientists onto the ship right before the adult tyrannosaur came on board. Because of this timeline of events, Ludlow was presumed dead.
The tyrannosaurs were safely brought back to Isla Sorna, and Jurassic Park would never open. InGen fell into chaos, and Hammond was able to urge the authorities to designate Isla Sorna a safe haven for these de-extinct animals. The public was shocked by what had happened, but also intrigued. If Van Owen’s footage ever saw the light of day, it would have served its purpose well, and even if it did not, the survivors’ testimonies of the dinosaurs living in the wild would still have been compelling. By the end of the year, Hammond and some InGen officials had worked with the United States House Committee on Science to compose the Gene Guard Act, which created legal obligations for InGen to ensure the animals’ welfare and prohibited further de-extinction research.
InGen faced bankruptcy and was forced to sell. Hammond passed away at the end of 1997, entrusting his friend Simon Masrani with buying InGen and keeping the dinosaurs safe. In 1998, Masrani’s company bought InGen as Hammond had wished. Although Masrani’s intent was to protect the welfare of the dinosaurs, this was a struggle that would seemingly never truly be over. In 2003, the Gene Guard Act was watered down; this came after Masrani Global Corporation announced the upcoming opening of a re-envisioned Jurassic Park located on Isla Nublar. Now called Jurassic World, it was set to open in 2005. In 2004, Isla Sorna experienced an ecological crisis for reasons unknown (eventually it was discovered that illegal cloning activity had overpopulated the island) and the surviving animals were relocated to Isla Nublar.
Jurassic World opened on May 30, 2005, eight years to the day since the San Diego incident. Though the park was considered an overall animal rights success, it was not without its behind-the-scenes issues, not the least of which was acquiring sufficient funding for the dinosaur population’s welfare. It is unlikely Nick Van Owen would have endorsed the park, as he opposed de-extinct animal exhibition. The park operated for just over ten years before a major incident caused it to shut down indefinitely, this time because of an experimental animal breaching containment. After this, the de-extinct animal rights debate was reinvigorated like never before. Organizations such as the Dinosaur Protection Group sprung up to advocate for the animals’ welfare and rights as endangered species, much like Van Owen and the Gatherers had sought to do decades before. However, their advocacy fell upon closed ears, as the United States government had taken up an even more anti-environmental stance following the 2016 Presidential election. Environmental issues such as climate change and ecological destruction were reaching apocalyptic proportions, and it was harder than ever for the governments of the world to justify allowing them to continue; by now, the United States and some other major countries had openly demonstrated their commitment to corporations first, people and the environment last. If the dinosaurs could not generate a profit for wealthy people, the government was content with letting them remain a non-issue on their isolated island.
Isla Nublar became volcanically active in early 2017. An eruption would kill off the dinosaurs and end the de-extinct animal rights debate. The government and Masrani Global opted to do nothing; Masrani Global had, like the government, abandoned any pretense of being pro-environmentalist after CEO Simon Masrani’s death in 2015. The authorities had once more failed the dinosaurs, and it was up to private citizens to take action. The DPG was unable to rally support to do so legally, despite a large percentage of the American public endorsing such a mission, and instead dinosaurs were illegally moved from the island around the time of the eruption in June 2018. Rather than being relocated to a safe haven, though, the dinosaurs were brought to the State of California to be sold on the black market. Through means not yet known to the public, many of the animals escaped captivity near the town of Orick and moved into the wild.
Van Owen’s mission on Isla Sorna had been to protect the dinosaurs from exploitation. He had succeeded in 1997, but the life of an activist is one of constant effort. The debate and conflict had simmered for twenty years before the dinosaur rights controversy was reignited, and today it is a permanently pressing issue that involves civilians, government agencies, and private corporations. Nick Van Owen was the first people to take real action for de-extinct animal rights, and with these creatures now living in the wild in North America, the issue is more important than ever. These animals are not going to disappear, and it is the job of everyone involved to find ways to live alongside them in an ever-changing environment.
Nick Van Owen is renowned for his skill as a video documentarian, particularly his work with the news program Nightline. He proved his abilities here and gained worldwide recognition for capturing the scope of major global events. These included some of the worst humanitarian crises of the 1990s, including the Bosnian War, the Rwandan genocide, and the First Chechen War. Van Owen was particularly proud of his documenting of the Bosnian War and often mentioned the extent of his involvement. His skill is owed in part to his strong belief in justice. Some of the events he has documented were neglected by global powers, and awareness of the situation was only brought to more affluent countries through the news. Along with humanitarian matters, Van Owen was also involved with documenting environmental disasters, the seriousness of which was first being understood in the later part of the twentieth century. This combination of skill and belief was the reason John Hammond selected him as documentarian for the Gatherer expedition to Isla Sorna in 1997.
Some of the video equipment used by Nick Van Owen in the 1990s included a Nikon F5 camera and a JVC GR-DVM1 compact digital video camera. Assuming he is still active as a video documentarian, his equipment will have changed throughout the years as he keeps up with new technological developments.
Van Owen’s headstrong personality and definitive moral convictions make him an effective activist. His career as a news journalist has taken him through some of the worst humanitarian crises of his day: he has seen war and genocide firsthand, witnessing the absolute most horrific abuses people can suffer. He is deeply passionate about the environment, the degradation of which is leading to even more humanitarian disasters; as the corporate powers push humanity farther into mass extinction, the world’s most vulnerable people are suffering famine, displacement, and disease on an unprecedented scale. The mass extinction event caused by the corporate destruction of the environment is, by definition, also leading to the elimination of millions, possibly hundreds of millions, of species. Plants, animals, and other forms of life are disappearing at record rates. The effects that these extinctions will have are unpredictable, as each living thing could be a linchpin in its ecosystem.
One of Van Owen’s chief goals in life is to bring awareness of these disasters to privileged people, and his abilities behind the camera allow him to do this. He also uses his professional connections to aid in relaying to audiences the sheer scale of crisis the world is currently facing. Van Owen is not above committing crimes to further his cause. He is a member of the radical environmentalist group Earth First!, which is known for sabotaging corporate ventures in defense of the biosphere. Even the more moderate Greenpeace, which Van Owen has volunteered with, has a history of obstructive or interventionist activism. By 1997, Van Owen was already notorious for sabotage, and his actions during the incident on Isla Sorna that year demonstrate that he had good experience at evading notice in order to complete his goals. Forms of sabotage he committed during that incident included cutting vehicle fuel lines and releasing captive animals, which he did without detection by his enemies. Van Owen readily uses whatever tools are available to complete his goals (such as using bolt cutters to break a padlock).
Van Owen is a seriously independent individual, averse to authority, but this does not mean he is disagreeable. In order to spread his message to the people, he needs to be appealing, so he is good at maintaining an at least neutral relationship with just about anyone (so long as they do not oppose him). During the Gatherer expedition in 1997, Van Owen worked with a team of people who had quite different personalities and viewpoints to himself, and actually had fewer conflicts with his teammates than anyone else there. On the other hand, he has no tolerance for people who stand in the way of justice. Van Owen is quick to pick fights with animal abusers and anti-environmentalists; he is probably just as intolerant of those who enable war, genocide, and other humanitarian atrocities he has witnessed.
His aggressively passionate defense of his beliefs is a part of his appeal to those who side with him. Van Owen makes no pretense of being logical or detached about his values: he wears his bleeding heart on his sleeve with pride. Even when discussing his beliefs with people he strongly disagrees with, he never tries to hide his true emotions.
Perhaps surprisingly, he is able to maintain a civil conversation with an opponent, but this can only happen under certain circumstances; his opponent must be equally open and honest, and the conversation will last only as long as his opponent makes no effort at manipulation. A good example of this is his relationship with big-game hunter Roland Tembo. During the time these two diametrically opposed men spent together, they spoke civilly and politely despite both acknowledging that they were, from a political standpoint, lifelong enemies. They managed to keep the dialogue open by expressing their views with total honesty and entering with the understanding that neither would sway the other: Van Owen was genuinely curious about understanding Tembo’s motives, and Tembo was interested in explaining them while not making any excuses for himself either.
Ever the news reporter, Van Owen uses this style of interview to better understand the people he works against, not just those he agrees with. This not only informs his plans as an activist, but also helps him communicate his own ideas by learning more about the people he needs to engage with. Outside of his political life, interviewing and learning about other people’s viewpoints aids Van Owen in maintaining relationships of all kinds. This skill helps him to offset his ego, which would otherwise dominate his relationships with a sense of moral superiority and damage his appeal.
Skill with animals
Van Owen’s primary skill is journalism and visual media, but as an animal rights activist, he has to have some amount of zoological expertise; the more he knows, the more credibility he gains. Some of the forms of activism he engages in set him against poachers and big-game hunters, some of whom are very knowledgeable on animal behavior. Van Owen needs to be better than them. He is also known to release captured animals from captivity, which requires him to know how the animals will react to his aid. On at least one occasion, during the 1997 incident on Isla Sorna, he rescued an injured young tyrannosaur from a hunter’s trap and helped biologist Dr. Sarah Harding treat the animal’s broken leg using a splint, gauze, liquid antibiotics, and morphine for the pain; he also helped to restrain the animal using a makeshift muzzle. This placed Nick Van Owen at the forefront of paleoveterinary science for a brief time.
While he has a functional knowledge of animal behavior and biology, some of his information is biased due to his political views; for example he believes that humans are the only animals that hunt for reasons other than food. In reality, there are non-human animal species that engage in surplus killing, and even some which kill weaker creatures for stimulation (such as a cat playing with a mouse, killing but not eating it).
As of 1997, Nick Van Owen possessed a valid U.S. driver’s license and drove a 1985 Chevrolet Chevy Van. His mailing address was located in California according to John Hammond’s files on him, but his van had New York commercial license plates, suggesting that he was not the van’s owner. It had the license plate number ST73951.
En route to the campsite on Isla Sorna in 1997, Van Owen drove one of the Mercedes M-Class both on and off-road.
In addition to English as his first language, Van Owen is fluent in Spanish. Since he travels around the world and works with the international community, it is likely that he speaks or at least understands other languages as well.
Nick Van Owen’s deepest, most significant belief is that the natural world should be protected from the damage brought upon it by Western society: whether this means animal exploitation, habitat destruction, or pollution, he stands against it all. Van Owen’s belief in environmentalism is strong enough to motivate him to commit crimes in defense of nature, risking fines, prison time, and other punishments depending on what actions he takes. His activism has led to the destruction of property and potentially involuntary manslaughter (depending on how much responsibility is assigned to him for deaths occurring in the 1997 incident on Isla Sorna).
Environmentalism is not just about preserving wilderness and protecting animal rights, though. Van Owen is a humanitarian, having witnessed the horrors of war and genocide, and the most vulnerable of people are the first to be threatened by the destruction of the environment. Pollution, the loss of animals and plants, and climate change threaten the lives and livelihoods of poor workers, farmers, and people in exploited countries. Combating the Holocene mass extinction event and the billionaires profiting off of it not only defends animals and their habitats, it also defends the people who will otherwise suffer the most.
Some amount of Van Owen’s environmental activism is socially motivated, rather than purely altruistic. Van Owen fancies himself a hero, and he has the ego to match. He takes great pride in his work. The more people he manages to reach with his videos and photographs, the greater the impact he has on society, and this is a major part of what drives him to continue. He also pursues the life of an activist for sex. Greenpeace membership was 80% female at the time he began volunteering, and here he can connect with women who are passionate like himself. Van Owen sometimes portrays himself as being chiefly concerned with sex and glory, but this is not a wholly accurate picture, as he is ready and willing to put himself in danger to stand up for his beliefs.
Despite appearances, Van Owen is not a misanthrope. He opposes the corporate exploitation of nature and the mistreatment of animals. There are plenty of human societies which do not view nature as a resource to harvest and deplete, but as a home in which to live, to nourish and be nourished by. In fact, prior to the expansion of Western societies (for example, the British colonial period), such societies were common around the world. Modern industrial capitalism has pushed these societies to the wayside just as it has destroyed ecosystems where it establishes, but Van Owen and others like him do not believe this must necessarily be the path of progress. The development of civilization, technology, and politics need not irreversibly consume all the world’s resources in order to continue.
Although he believes that humans can live in harmony with the rest of the world, he does fall victim to some of the philosophical pitfalls that his own society sets him up for. In his effort to oppose sport hunting, he expresses the belief that humans are the only animals that hunt when they are not hungry. This is factually incorrect, as there are other animal species that engage in surplus killing for a variety of reasons including enjoyment. All intelligent animals need stimulation to remain satisfied, and for predators, hunting provides that stimulation. The idea that nature is a harmonious existence and that humans are inherently miserable creatures is a very Western concept, not echoed universally by other civilizations.
Van Owen is mostly known for his environmental beliefs, but he also cares about humanitarian issues, and it is really no wonder, since environmentalism and humanitarianism are intimately linked to each other. During his time as a video journalist with Nightline, Van Owen documented some of the worst atrocities of the decade. In many cases, the wider world opted to take no action when these events were occurring; people around the globe were horrified by the Rwandan genocide, which Van Owen witnessed firsthand, but no other countries intervened to stop it. Only by seeing images on the news did most people even learn it was happening. By using media to spread information, Van Owen hopes to increase awareness of the world’s problems and demonstrate how urgent it is that they be addressed.
For many people, the debate about de-extinction is focused largely on whether or not it should have been performed in the first place. On the one hand, it has great scientific potential, with the ability to teach us about the history of life on Earth. However, it cannot truly bring back what has been lost; DNA degrades over time, so it must be reconstructed in order to resurrect a long-gone species, and this introduces inevitable alterations. De-extinct animals are at best facsimiles of their ancestors, at worst they are the same in name only.
However, for people like Nick Van Owen, the question of whether prehistoric life should be cloned is a pointless one to ask. These creatures have been brought back, and barring some catastrophic event, they will continue to live in our modern world. The real question now is whether we will treat them humanely. While some environmentalists have decried de-extinct life as taking resources and attention away from the conservation of naturally extant species, Van Owen is not one of them. Instead, he firmly believes that de-extinct species should be awarded the same protections that are owed to other endangered species. This includes allowing them the freedom to live out their natural lives in a protected area, with human intrusion kept to a minimum. Van Owen was among the first people to advocate for the rights of dinosaurs as living, breathing animals rather than products of a corporation.
On gender roles
Van Owen is known for his promiscuous lifestyle, and the opportunity to meet passionate women strongly motivates him toward activism. Some might assume that Van Owen is a womanizer, but he actually does value women as colleagues and allies rather than just as sexual partners. He prefers women who are politically aligned with himself and care as deeply about environmental issues as he does, so when he selects his sexual partners, he is also thinking about compatibility on an intellectual and emotional level. Van Owen does not seem to want a long-term romantic relationship, but his flings and one-night stands are far from meaningless.
He is perfectly capable of being platonic friends with women, as he worked closely with Dr. Sarah Harding during the 1997 incident on Isla Sorna without making any advances on her. Part of this was likely because she was already in a relationship. Van Owen does not make himself an obstacle or complication in other people’s love lives, preferring women who are single and with whom the attraction is mutual. As far as his own personality is concerned, he does show many traditionally masculine attributes, but these are mixed with liberal political views that are more often considered feminine in Western society. Van Owen supports humanitarian causes, animal rights, and other left-leaning movements, but does so with the boldness and bravado that most people expect of a masculine man. In a culture where men are often expected to be coldly logical and show no emotions other than anger or smugness, Van Owen’s confidence in his own passion makes him stand out from the crowd, so he appeals to exactly the kind of women he is interested in.
Despite his animal rights and environmentalist stance, Van Owen is not a vegetarian or vegan (or at least, he was not as of May 1997). He enjoys cheeseburgers, though he prefers his without onions on them.
Nick Van Owen is renowned for his camerawork as a news videographer in war-torn regions, and was employed by ABC News for their Nightline program for several years in the 1990s. During that time, he was dispatched to document major conflicts around the world, including the Bosnian War, the Rwandan genocide, and the First Chechen War. Van Owen was most heavily involved with the first of these. When he traveled to these sites, Van Owen would have been accompanied by a filming crew and reporters, and most likely corresponded with people who were directly involved with the crises he was documenting. His involvement helped to bring their stories to the wider public.
By 1997, Van Owen’s time at Nightline had come to an end, but he is still considered a highly skilled cameraman whose photography and video talents are in high demand. His involvement with the mysterious 1997 Isla Sorna incident, which led to the more famous incident in San Diego, surely boosted his reputation as it further demonstrated his ability to work in dangerous and unfamiliar territories. With those events leading to de-extinction becoming a public fact, he was involved with one of the most interesting and influential stories of the late 1990s. While his career since then is currently not known to us, the world has only gotten more complex in more recent decades, and reporters are proving to be a major force in the global sociopolitical landscape.
His career as a news cameraman sees him document all manner of world events, most of which are humanitarian in nature, but he remains involved in politics even when off the clock. Van Owen’s passion is activism, particularly on the environmental front. Few national governments care very much about environmentalism, and those that do are greatly outclassed by stronger world powers such as the United States and major corporations. Instead, advocacy for Earth’s biosphere comes largely from civilians.
Nick Van Owen has volunteered for Greenpeace, which is involved in campaigning against environmental destruction in a variety of forms (including but not limited to deforestation, overfishing, animal exploitation, pollution, and whaling). However, Greenpeace does not seem to have been Van Owen’s primary passion, despite him being well known for it; he claims that he joined chiefly because of the organization’s overwhelmingly female personnel. Those who know a bit more about Van Owen will recognize him instead from his less-publicized involvement with the radical group Earth First!, which has taken more extreme direct action in defense of the environment. Van Owen has participated in acts of sabotage against companies that would exploit animals for capital gain. He has even acted in defense of genetically-engineered animals, which many activists are squeamish about.
As described above, Van Owen is driven to be an activist in part for sexual reasons. It is only fitting that a passionate man such as himself would desire partners who are equally passionate, and so many of Van Owen’s connections in activist communities are more than just professional. In Western culture, caring about the environment is seen as an inherently feminine act, and so men often shy away from it. Van Owen stands out by boldly dismissing this stereotype and allowing his emotions to define his political action. He is very open about what he stands for, and he makes a statement by not permitting anyone but himself to tell him what to believe or value. When he seeks out sexual or romantic partners, he desires people whose values and commitment to match his own, and so he finds partners among the activist circles he participates in.
Dr. John Parker Alfred Hammond
During a period in the late 1990s when he was in between assignments, Van Owen was contacted by the enigmatic businessman Dr. John Hammond, the CEO of International Genetic Technologies. During their meeting in May 1997, Van Owen learned that Dr. Hammond was soon to be removed as CEO, and that rumors regarding de-extinction performed by InGen were indeed true. Hammond had changed his political philosophy after events some years prior, abandoning capitalism in favor of environmentalism. Now, rather than exhibit the dinosaurs his company had created for monetary gain, Hammond wanted to provide for the animals’ welfare and safety. InGen did not agree, and as a result, he had been fired, with InGen preparing to harvest the dinosaurs from its old research site. The dinosaurs would be kept in the Jurassic Park facility at San Diego for exhibition.
This presented Van Owen with an opportunity, both as a documentarian and an activist, and it was because of this combination of skill and belief that Hammond had hired him. Hammond’s plan was to send a team to Isla Sorna and film the dinosaurs in the wild, using the footage to show the public that these animals were best off living lives free of human interference. With public opinion swayed in favor of keeping the dinosaurs wild, they could make it impossible for Jurassic Park to successfully open. Should the InGen team arrive before Hammond’s mission was complete, Van Owen was entrusted with sabotaging InGen’s efforts. By participating in the mission, Van Owen had the chance to be a part of the biggest bioethics story in human history, and he would be fighting to protect some of the world’s most imperiled creatures. The dinosaurs had been created by InGen, so they were literally bred to be exploited. Van Owen’s help could give them a shot at staying free.
Hammond was not in contact with his employees during the mission, which landed on Isla Sorna just two days after the finalization of Hammond’s removal from InGen. The next he and Van Owen might have been in contact was May 30, after the survivors of the adventure returned to the United States. While the mission had run into serious complications and resulted in several deaths, it was ultimately successful in stopping Jurassic Park from opening. Hammond used the incident as leverage to designate Isla Sorna a wildlife preserve for de-extinct species, and public opinion was largely in favor of de-extinct animal rights. For several years, Van Owen’s efforts at Hammond’s behest gave the dinosaurs legal protection and the benefit of public support. Of course, in more recent times, the situation has again grown complicated and hotly contested: the work of an activist is never complete.
For the mission to Isla Sorna in 1997, Van Owen was accompanied by several team members, who all together formed a small organization called the Gatherers. The first member of their team was the biologist Dr. Sarah Harding, whose expertise in predatory animal behavior and dinosaur paleontology made her an ideal candidate for the mission’s zoology researcher. Harding was a passionate supporter of animal rights, very much like Van Owen, but as she was already in a relationship he did not make advances on her and instead viewed her as a platonic ally. She traveled to Isla Sorna ahead of the rest of her team to scout out the island and locate dinosaurs of interest.
The next team member was the Gatherers’ field equipment specialist, Eddie Carr. He was a quieter, mechanically-inclined man, although his sarcasm matched Van Owen’s. Carr and Van Owen were both inclined toward authority, but Carr was a team leader while Van Owen definitely preferred a more freelance approach. Despite their differences, they got along well enough, eventually treating each other as friends. One thing they did have in common was experience in the field; Carr’s specialty was equipment used in wilderness areas, and Van Owen had done his fair share of filming in dangerous environments. Of course, Carr had never done anything as extreme as Van Owen’s activism, being a politically moderate man; their similarities did not extend particularly far.
Finally, the last member to join the team was the famed mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm, who happened to be the lucky man dating Dr. Harding. It had been Malcolm who had first acted as whistleblower about Jurassic Park, and he had paid for it with his credibility and his career. Getting Malcolm to participate in another adventure like this was no easy task; only Van Owen had been informed about Ludlow’s plan to capture dinosaurs for a new park, so the only thing that convinced Malcolm to go was the fact that Dr. Harding was already there. Malcolm met with Van Owen and Carr for the first time to insist on an early departure in order to rescue his girlfriend. Van Owen was not dissuaded from their original mission, though. He also dropped off Malcolm’s daughter, Kelly, to the garage before they departed.
On the island, they reunited with Dr. Harding and began documenting the dinosaurs, but unexpected complications kept arising. First, it turned out that Kelly had stowed away in the lab, coming to Isla Sorna with the Gatherers. Shortly after this, Ludlow’s team arrived well ahead of schedule, forcing Van Owen to change course. Although he was still planning on releasing his footage to the public, he now revealed how Hammond had told him about Ludlow and entrusted Van Owen with sabotaging InGen’s plans. He infiltrated InGen’s camp alongside Dr. Harding, and she reluctantly helped him bring a wounded young tyrannosaur back to their lab to treat its broken leg. Together, they performed one of the earliest procedures in paleoveterinary medicine.
Peril came for them in the form of the tyrannosaur’s parents, who destroyed the Gatherer campsite in retaliation for their child’s injury and distress. Van Owen, Dr. Harding, and Dr. Malcolm were saved only by Eddie Carr intervening to pull them up the cliffs, and he did so at the cost of his own life. From that point on, the Gatherers traveled alongside the InGen Harvesters in a joint effort to get off Isla Sorna. Van Owen was responsible for stranding everyone there, having released the dinosaurs at the InGen camp which destroyed the radio equipment and drawing the tyrannosaurs to demolish the Gatherer equipment as well. However, Van Owen’s colleagues did not antagonize him over this, knowing that they all needed to rely on each other to escape.
Although Peter Ludlow was the leader of the InGen team, Van Owen acted as an authority figure for both the Gatherers and Harvesters alike as his ability to push through dangerous situations proved an asset. He protected his teammates as they faced the hazardous environment, eventually radioing InGen for help and getting the survivors evacuated. Thanks in part to his efforts, no other members of the Gatherer team perished in the incident. After leaving Isla Sorna, Van Owen parted ways with the others. It is not known if he has kept in contact with them over the years.
The corporation International Genetic Technologies first came to Nick Van Owen’s attention through the correspondence of its former CEO, the Scottish entrepreneur Dr. John Hammond. While he had probably heard the conspiracy theories about InGen cloning dinosaurs on a remote Costa Rican island from daytime television, Hammond was able to confirm that there was truth to the rumors and accusations. Van Owen learned that Hammond, once a determined capitalist, had experienced a change of heart some years ago and now wanted to protect his company’s living creations from being exploited for profit. InGen itself, of course, did not agree. As a result, Hammond had been fired, and very shortly the transfer of power would be complete. Taking his place as CEO was InGen’s Chairman of the Board, and Hammond’s own nephew, Peter Ludlow. Once Ludlow was in power, he was going to travel to Isla Sorna, where InGen had first performed de-extinction research; this was where the dinosaurs lived.
Van Owen’s mission on Isla Sorna was twofold. His primary goal was to document the animals living in the wild, but in the event that InGen did arrive to begin their plan, Van Owen would sabotage their efforts by releasing any creatures they captured. This proved necessary when Ludlow arrived to the island well ahead of schedule with a flotilla of cargo ships and tankers bearing heavy-duty vehicles. With him came a group of hired hunters, some from within InGen and some hired for this mission. The hunters were led by Roland Tembo, a man with whom Van Owen had history; they had come into conflict due to Van Owen’s involvement in Earth First! and Tembo’s big-game hunting career. Tembo was aided by his closest companion, tracker Ajay Sidhu, and his trusted equipment specialist Dieter Stark. Ludlow’s team, termed the Harvesters, also included paleontologist Dr. Robert Burke.
Aided by his ally Dr. Sarah Harding, he infiltrated InGen’s camp the night after they landed. While InGen personnel were attending a teleconference with the Board of Directors in San Diego, Van Owen and Dr. Harding sneaked undetected into the campsite, cutting vehicle fuel lines and releasing animals. This resulted in the camp being destroyed; Van Owen used the chaos to foil Roland Tembo’s effort at making a trophy kill, also rescuing the young tyrannosaur he had been using as bait. InGen discovered that this had been no accident, but rather sabotage, when a cut padlock was found among the wreckage of the camp.
It did not take long for InGen to locate the Gatherer camp, but by the time they arrived, even more destruction had been wrought by the angry animals. With no working radio equipment between the two groups, they were forced to unite and make for the island interior where the Workers’ Village was located. Van Owen readily picked fights with Dieter Stark, whose cruel treatment of animals angered Van Owen. However, he was more willing to have a civil conversation with Roland Tembo; the two men did not come to any agreement, but did understand a little more of each other’s philosophies and motives. Van Owen looked for any opportunity to sabotage Tembo’s elephant gun, which Tembo was well aware of; a nonviolent battle of wits took place between these men during the trek.
Van Owen finally got his chance during a brief rest stop when Tembo was distracted. That night, the tyrannosaur parents attacked the group’s temporary camp, and Tembo attempted to shoot one of the animals. Finding that his bullets were missing, he immediately knew Van Owen was to blame, and instead of taking his trophy he instead tranquilized the male tyrannosaur. Meanwhile, Van Owen was fleeing from the female alongside many of the InGen hunters, but took shelter in a small cave when Kelly stumbled. As he and his allies tried to stay out of reach, they were joined by Dr. Burke, who was also straggling behind. Unfortunately, he was not as lucky as they, since he discovered a small snake in his shirt collar and panicked directly into the tyrannosaur’s mouth. This was darkly fortunate for Van Owen and his fellow Gatherers, since the tyrannosaur was busy enough with Burke that it did not bother them any longer.
Contacting the InGen Harvest Base was top priority, and Van Owen had been given its radio frequency in the event that he was the one to reach the Workers’ Village first. This proved to be the case, as the InGen party was scattered in disarray and fending off predatory animals while he managed to struggle through to the central facility. In the village’s Operations Building, he reactivated old radio equipment and hailed the Harvest Base to send for rescue. An InGen helicopter took Van Owen and his allies away from the island, though on their way out, they caught sight of the male tyrannosaur being prepared for an airlift. Van Owen took some satisfaction in confirming that he had prevented Tembo from killing the animal.
It is unknown what role Van Owen had in subsequent events. If his footage reached the public, it would have been further detrimental to InGen’s plans of opening Jurassic Park. The tyrannosaur and its offspring did reach the mainland, but the events that followed were resolved by Drs. Malcolm and Harding, who returned the animals home alive. Jurassic Park did not open, and the dinosaurs were given legal protection as the public learned of their existence. InGen faced bankruptcy after years of struggle; they were forced to sell, becoming a subsidiary of Masrani Global Corporation. Operations on the islands eventually resumed, and it is not known whether Van Owen made any protest against this.
Books released along with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (intended to be read from an in-universe perspective) describe the sabotage of InGen’s camp in 1997 as having an unknown cause. This suggests that Van Owen’s involvement, and that of the other Gatherers, was covered up and not made known to the public or most InGen employees. Who was responsible for hiding accounts of their act is not known, nor the motive for doing so. It may be that Van Owen was granted immunity by InGen or Masrani Global in exchange for taking no further action against the park.
Nick Van Owen is sometimes thought of as the first de-extinct animal rights advocate, being hired by John Hammond to document the dinosaurs of Isla Sorna living in the wild. The purpose of this mission was to demonstrate to the public that these animals should be living with minimal interference. Van Owen is against animal exploitation, and with the unique situation the dinosaurs presented, he took the offer. He had heard rumors about de-extinction, and like most people he had seen illustrations and museum displays, but to see living creatures was something else entirely. His first dinosaur was Stegosaurus, an ornate herbivore he witnessed shortly after arriving on Isla Sorna. The herd he encountered included a juvenile, the subject of some of his team’s photography. Deleted scenes also describe him filming a mating pair of Mamenchisaurus.
Before long, his mission’s secondary objective rose to prime importance. The dinosaurs were being rounded up by InGen for exhibition in a zoo, which Hammond had sought to avoid; experience had shown that InGen was woefully unprepared to care for these essentially unknown animals. Van Owen witnessed multiple dinosaurs being captured, some of which were treated roughly. A male Parasaurolophus and male Pachycephalosaurus were among the dinosaurs he observed being caught. That night, he entered InGen’s camp to release the animals from captivity. Creatures they had captured included the small scavenger Compsognathus, a couple Stegosaurus including a juvenile, some Gallimimus, and a pair of Triceratops (an adult male and a juvenile). The adult Triceratops was the last dinosaur released, and its heightened aggression may have been the reason; once it was out, there was no more lingering around camp. This dinosaur destroyed the campsite upon being freed before taking its young to safety. The only dinosaurs Van Owen did not rescue were a few of the Compsognathus, which were inaccessible due to being involved with an InGen teleconference.
After seeding chaos into InGen’s camp, Van Owen rescued a young male Tyrannosaurus rex which was being used as bait by big-game hunters Roland Tembo and Ajay Sidhu. It was Tembo’s goal to poach an adult male Tyrannosaurus, relying on the juvenile’s distress cries to draw the adult. Van Owen, along with a somewhat reluctant Dr. Sarah Harding, brought the juvenile back to their camp and treated its broken leg in one of the world’s first cases of paleoveterinary medicine. The operation was successful, saving the young dinosaur’s ability to hunt. However, its distress cries did indeed draw the attention of both of its parents; the mother and father soon arrived to retrieve him. Van Owen’s life was put in danger thanks to his good deed as the adults, not understanding that the Gatherers were trying to help, pushed the mobile lab over the cliffs after rescuing their son.
The trek toward the Workers’ Village brought Van Owen through the territories of the island’s predators, with the tyrannosaurs continuing to stalk the humans into the island interior. On the way, Van Owen strove to protect the dinosaurs from further harm, including stealing Roland Tembo’s bullets so he could not shoot the adult male tyrannosaur. During the final night on Isla Sorna, he was nearly caught and eaten by the female, but this unfortunate fate fell to Dr. Robert Burke instead. The female had driven the hunters as well as Van Owen and his allies into Velociraptor territory, and in the Workers’ Village he was forced to hide from three of the pride‘s members. An InGen helicopter offered him and his allies a narrow escape.
While he had saved the male tyrannosaur from being shot by Tembo for a trophy, Tembo had still brought the animal down by tranquilizing it instead. Van Owen was not involved with the events that transpired next, having parted ways with Drs. Malcolm and Harding (who were responsible for apprehending the male tyrannosaur after InGen brought it to San Diego, and ensuring it and its son were returned home alive). With de-extinct animal rights becoming a hot issue in the following decades, we can assume that Van Owen has remained a staunch advocate for dinosaur welfare.
Nick Van Owen is portrayed by Vince Vaughn. Unlike the other Gatherer characters, he is not based on any character at all from Michael Crichton‘s novel, and is an original character made for the film. Instead, his origin lies with the Warren Zevon rock song “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner,” which also was the origin of Roland Tembo. In the song, a mercenary named Roland is eventually betrayed by his colleague Van Owen, but returns from the dead and exacts his revenge. The character Roland Tembo was named first, in reference to the song, and Nick Van Owen was constructed as his nemesis by screenwriter David Koepp afterward.
Supposedly, Vince Vaughn was cast as this character after a chance encounter between Vaughn and Steven Spielberg when the latter was contacted for permission to use the Jaws theme in another film which Vaughn was acting in.
A prop created for The Lost World: Jurassic Park appears to be a diploma from the University of California School of Medicine with the name Nicholas Van Owen on it, dated June 14, 1960. However, the animation for Hammond’s computer in the film shows Nick Van Owen’s date of birth to be in 1964, and demonstrates that he attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1992 briefly before dropping out. The diploma, which probably would have been featured among Hammond’s files on the Gatherers, must belong to an unrelated Nick Van Owen (being a mistake both in and out of universe).