“Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” returns to Center founded by Marlin Perkins to film newborn wolf pups
Stephanie Arne, the host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” returned to the Endangered Wolf Center — founded by Marlin Perkins, the original host of “Wild Kingdom” — near St. Louis May 23-24 to film Mexican wolf pups who were born this spring.
“Wild Kingdom” debuted in 1963 on NBC while Perkins was director of the St. Louis Zoo. He hosted the show until 1985, a year before his death. Jim Fowler, his teammate, took over as host after Perkins retired. The weekly series featured stories about wildlife filmed on trips throughout the world.
In 2013, Arne became the series’ first female host, which now features webisodes online. In November, Arne and a film crew were at the Endangered Wolf Center preparing a story on wolves. They returned May 23-24 to include scenes of wolf pups for the webisode to air on www.wildkingdom.com in July.
Two different Mexican wolves — Sibi and Vera — produced litters in April and May this year. In history-making events, two of Sibi’s pups (Vida and Lindbergh) and two of Vera’s pups (Linda and Valeria) were cross-fostered into the dens of wolves living in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. Cross-fostering is a technique where wolf pups from one litter are placed into another litter. The wolf mother will adopt the additions as her own. It increases the genetic pool and population of wolves in the wild.
Perkins, a pioneer in conservation efforts, and his wife Carol founded the Endangered Wolf Center in 1971, before the Endangered Species Act existed. They recognized that wolves were dramatically declining and that urgent measures were needed to keep them from vanishing from the face of the Earth.
“It is an incredible honor and privilege to film ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’ at the Endangered Wolf Center,” Arne said. “As the show’s new host, I have been able to speak with people across America and experience the lasting impact that Marlin Perkins has had on the hearts and minds of people today; but visiting the Center takes it to another level. It’s one thing to talk about conservation, education, and awareness, but seeing the brick and mortar facility that Marlin founded makes it real.
“Knowing the impact this place has had over the last 40 years on populations in the wild, and the ecosystems in which they live, is truly remarkable and awe-inspiring. Cheers to you Marlin, and on behalf of all the inhabitants of today’s Wild Kingdom, Thank You!”
“It is such a pleasure to welcome Stephanie and ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’ back to the Center to film our newest additions,” said Virginia Busch, Executive Director of the Endangered Wolf Center. “Marlin Perkins would be proud of the messages Stephanie and ‘Wild Kingdom’ are spreading about wildlife and the importance of conserving our planet.”