On February 28th, 2013 Mutual of Omaha announced the revival of the legendary show, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom for the show’s 50th anniversary. The revival consisted of releasing interviews with the show’s incredible hosts, Jim Fowler and Peter Gros discussing their favorite moments filming with the late Marlin Perkins; The release of the new Wild Kingdom App; And a one-of-a-kind, nationwide contest to find the newest host (or Wild Guide) of a new Wild Kingdom web series.


At the time, I was working as the Education Outreach Director for the Honolulu Zoological Society with the plan to create a wildlife show for Hawaiian local stations. I recall a colleague and friend from the Omaha Zoo sharing the contest link with me on social media; I knew immediately that I was auditioning for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Because I was currently filming TV commercials for the Honolulu Zoo, I was getting on-camera time to practice presenting, as well as learning how to appreciate the role of each crew member that collaborate to create a final product. I was a bit rough around the edges, but with more practice and some help from experts, I became confident enough to create my first-ever audition tape.


I decided to pretend like I was already the host of a Wild Kingdom, therefore, I took videos from my conservation work around the globe to create my opener followed by two segments at the Honolulu Zoo and in the Hawaiian rainforest. I chose a couple facts from species I felt comfortable with but still decided to “wing it,” when my friend said, “action,” which caused me to be more anxious but helped me be more authentic in the moment.


In May of 2013, Mutual of Omaha judges chose 12 semi-finalists. The next step proved to be the most difficult; each semi-finalist had to compete for the most public votes over the course of 13 days. After 13 days of asking family and friends and friends of friends (and even strangers) to vote for 13 days straight, I was mentally and emotionally drained but feeling confident that I was at least in the top 5. At the beginning of June, The top 3 finalists were announced: Thiago, Reggie, and me. I remember receiving the call while out on a walk and stopping dead in my tracks when I saw Mutal of Omaha’s number pop up on my cell phone screen. I knew I had moved on and couldn’t have felt more nervous and determined.


Following the phone call telling me I made it to the top three, a Mutual of Omaha representative sent me multiple scripts and instructions to prepare a monologue at the camera in the penguin exhibit at the Omaha Zoo. On June 21st, 2013 I delivered my lines, presented a monologue, and was spontaneously asked a few questions to test my on-the-spot delivery of animal knowledge. After 3 days, I finished my final interview but decided to keep the momentum by going on a 2-week media tour in hopes that Mutual of Omaha would see my extra efforts and my ability to be interviewed on news and radio stations. On July 7th, 2013 my efforts paid off; I was declared the new host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. When I received the call that I won, I fell to the floor in gratitude and cried tears of joy. It’s been five amazing years and there are many more adventures to come.



In her debut season with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Stephanie and the crew dove beneath the waves with the Coral Restoration Foundation, scoped out the bison of Custer State Park in South Dakota, examined the invasive tegu lizards with Florida Fish and Wildlife and the University of Florida, and lastly, looked to the open skies to discover how the Ventana Wildlife Society and the LA Zoo are saving california condors.


With a new format, Season Two of Wild Kingdom with host Stephanie Arne takes us to see how keepers care for the penguins of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, then to the Dallas Zoo to learn all about their giraffes and cheetahs, and finally to the Fort Worth Zoo to meet their beloved African elephants.


In this season of Wild Kingdom, Stephanie and the crew take you meet the wild manatees of Florida as well as a few rock-star ambassadors at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. Next, they take you to Tanganyika Wildlife Park to visit their kangaroos and leopards. Finally, cue the “awww’s” as you get up-close with the world cutest creatures – sea otters of the California coast, and learn how the Monterrey Bay Aquarium is helping rescue and rehabilitate these amazing animals.


This season of Wild Kingdom takes viewers on the front-lines of wolf conservation with The Endangered Wolf Center and Wolf Park, next to visit the stingrays of Bimini with Jillian Morris Brake of Sharks4Kids, then to South Dakota to meet the snakes of Reptile Gardens, and lastly to dive with the sharks near Grand Bahama with Cristina Zenato.


The most recent season of Wild Kingdom first showcases the work being done at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, then to get up-close with the crocodiles of Banco Chinchorro with underwater photographer Amanda Cotton, then travel north to learn about polar bears with world renowned researcher Steven Amstrup with Polar Bears International, and finally, to coastal California to learn from researchers at the USC Wrigley Institute and Jenn Cassele with University of California at Santa Barbara how the kelp forests protect both wildlife and human habitats, and could one-day fuel our economy.


“Our very lives, yours, mine, and all of mankind’s, may be at stake, because we ourselves may become extinct if we destroy our priceless heritage: The Wild Kingdom.”

Marlin Perkins