One of my fondest memories from growing up was watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom each week on television. For those who aren’t familiar with the program, the show initially ran from 1963 to 1988 and featured zoologists Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler traveling the globe to capture some amazing wildlife encounters on film. As a young boy, the show left quite an impression both in terms of the exotic locations the hosts visited and the wonderful animals that they brought into our homes each week. In 2002, Wild Kingdom returned to television with a new format and began airing on Animal Planet. The new version of the show carries the legacy of the original into the 21st century and certainly the spiritual successor of what Perkins and Fowler created.
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild Kingdom and to commemorate the series which became an American cultural touchstone, The Explorers Club has created the new Marlin Perkins/Jim Fowler Lifetime Artist-in-Residence Award. This first edition of the award is being given to Anthony J. “Buddy” Obara for his years of work creating bronze wildlife sculptures, particularly for the outstanding St. Louis Zoo. That presentation is being made by the Explorers Club St. Louis chapter on Saturday, May 18 at the zoo, where the EC is also donating a new bronze statue of an emperor penguin that was created by Obara. Jim Fowler will be on hand at the celebration as well.
I’m sure there are more than few readers who are around my age and have fond memories of Wild Kingdom. I discovered quite a few of the classic episodes are actually on YouTube. Like the one below that features Perkins and Fowler reminiscing about some of their more favorite adventures over the years.
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