Most of the best research done about the big wild animals in the world were done by scientists who actually LIVED, for many years, with the animals they were studying, people with a h*ll of a lot of guts and very intimate grasp of how the animals lived and behaved everyday. For thousands of years the locals in western Africa believed that chimpanzees were violent, man-eating animals that should be killed on sight. Jane Goodall completely changed the way we think of chimpanzees by living among them, within their trioupes, for more than 20 years.
Shaun Ellis has been living with and raising wild wolves.
Timothy Treadwell and Doug Peacock have been living with Grizzlies.
Charlie Vandergaw, a former bear hunter, has been living with and studying black bears.
Mark and Della Owens lived with lions in Africa
These people, and many more, know the dangers better than anyone, experienced firsthand what the animals are like (and what they should avoid), and what the truths and myths are. No investigator who watches from afar will ever know the animals that way. I'm not saying, and neither will any of these people, that the animals are not dangerous, or that people like you and me, without knowledge of how to behave and what to do, would not be in danger, but there is a very big difference between hearsay and actual, firsthand experience.
My own experience, albeit much smaller, are with reptiles and insects. People constantly talk about how dangerous and prone to kill hornets are, especially Japanese Bald Faced Hornets, and without a moment's thought will go out and completely decimate a hornet nest, even if it is not located in a dangerous place. But my own experience has proven time and time again, that if you know how to move and act they will rarely attack. I can hold bald faced hornets on my hands and never get stung. I've only been stung once in my life, and that was because I was walking too fast past an underground nest and I startled them.
So much has to do with knowledge and attitude.