LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - “Wild Kingdom” host Jim Fowler died on Wednesday, according to a tribute on the show’s website. He was 89.
Fowler co-hosted Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins beginning in 1963. He was also known for being a regular guest on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” and Fowler was close friends with the talk show host.
Fowler became interested in wildlife growing up on his family’s farm in Georgia. He studied zoology in college, where he was also a star baseball player. Fowler turned down offers from the Phillies and Yankees to pursue a career as a naturalist, according to his website.
Fowler aimed to educate the public about wildlife and encourage nature conservation.
Fowler said in a statement on his website, “What we have to do is ask ourselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’ Only then will we realize that the continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is ultimately important to the quality of life of humans.”
Bronx Zoo director Jim Breheny remembered the educator with a tweet, writing, “We were saddened to learn of the death of our friend Jim Fowler. Growing up this kid from the Bronx and millions of others spent every Sunday night w/ him and Wild Kingdom. He was a force and role model in my career choice. As a kid I could not have imagined becoming his friend.”
Fowler is survived by his wife and two children.