Many years before the launch of Animal Planet, 34 million people tuned in each week to watch a nature show about wild animals. “Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” aired on Sunday nights on NBC from 1963 through 1988. And … it’s coming back to NBC this fall.
This new version, called “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom: Protecting the Wild,” will premiere on Oct. 7 as part of NBC’s Saturday morning “The More You Know” programming, and also on NBC.com and NBC’s video-on-demand services. It’s being produced by Hearst Media Production Group.
There will be two hosts: wildlife expert Peter Gros (who co-hosted the ’80s version of the show) and wildlife ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, a National Geographic Explorer and researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The documentary-style show will showcase conservation success stories.
When “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” announced the news on its Facebook page, it received many enthusiastic comments.
The original series was hosted by Marlin Perkins from 1963 until his retirement in 1985. Perkins was also a zoo director at Saint Louis Zoo, the Buffalo Zoo and Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. Jim Fowler, with Gros as co-host, succeeded Perkins for the final few years of the series. The show is credited with increasing the public’s interest and knowledge of ecology and environmental issues and pioneering the nature show format.
Although the TV series ended in 1988, “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” never actually went away, and has been revived in a few different incarnations. In 2002, it began airing new episodes on Animal Planet, and in 2014 it began a web series. Last year, episodes of this newest version of the show began airing on RFD-TV and RFD-TV Now, cable channels focusing on rural America.
If you can’t wait until October to see the show on NBC, here’s a taste of Gros and Wynn-Grant’s teamwork from last year, posted to the “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”‘s dedicated YouTube page. Original host Perkins’ voice is included in the opening segment.
We’re always down for a good story about bear cubs. In this episode, two black bear cubs were driven from their habitat in the state of Washington due to wildfires. Though the cubs suffered second-degree burns, rescuers were able to fully rehabilitate them and send them back out … into the wild kingdom.