Updated on May 16, 2024

Have you enjoyed the first season of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild? While episodes continue to air Saturday mornings on NBC’s “The More You Know,” the Wild Kingdom crew is traveling to new sites to film upcoming episodes. Get a sneak peek into what it’s been like for Co-Hosts Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant and Peter Gros to film these new stories.


Behind the scenes of Protecting the Wild

An arial view of a great white shark swimming in the ocean.


1. Great white sharks

Did you know you can find great white sharks off the coast of central California? Peter and Dr. Rae came upon these mysterious creatures after only a five-minute kayak trip from the shore.

The co-hosts joined Carlos Gauna, a shark behavior expert who studies the species using drones. They learned that while sharks do interact with humans in the ocean, there’s a lot of myths surrounding this species. One myth is sharks are looking for anything to eat in the ocean, but these sharks aren’t aggressive.

“The shark was only curious, not aggressive at all and eventually went on his way. With the adrenaline still pumping we paddled quickly to shore after our first up close and personal meeting with a great white shark,” Peter said.


A black bear cub running in a field.


2. Black bears

As a black bear expert, Dr. Rae has spent a lot of time exploring bear dens, but Wild Kingdom took her to her first one in New England. She traveled to New Hampshire with the state’s department of wildlife to track a hibernating female bear in the forest. There, the team performed a veterinary checkup on mama bear and collected data on her three newborn cubs.

“The whole family was in great health, and we quickly completed our data collection and left them where we found them, which was surprisingly under a fallen tree trunk in a part of the forest that had not yet gotten much snow,” Dr. Rae said.

“This means the bear family were quite exposed not just to the elements, but to any passing humans, further demonstrating how people are responsible for keeping bears safe during winter hibernation.”


An ocelot standing in green grass.


3. Ocelots

Have you heard of an ocelot? They’re small spotted cats native to the Americas, but only 120 are left in the entire U.S. The Wild Kingdom crew traveled to El Sauz Ranch in Texas to see how people of different industries are helping this species reclaim their historic habitat.

“We worked with scientists, cowboys, filmmakers and landowners to understand the ways they’re all working together to both protect large intact swaths of land in rapidly urbanizing Texas, and also provide long-term habitat protection for endangered species like ocelots,” Dr. Rae said.

Our co-hosts learned of the long-term plan to translocate ocelots from Mexico to El Sauz Ranch as well as Laguna National Wildlife Refuge, where another breeding population of ocelots resides. Researchers are tracking Texan ocelots to understand how to rebuild their population and are studying other species success stories.

“In the past, successful relocations have worked with the Florida panther, the jaguar, the North American wolf and a rare species of lynx,” Peter said. “I look forward to hearing of the completion of the long-term plan of introducing our southern neighbor ocelots to the existing Texas ocelot population.”


A aerial image of a southern right whale and her little baby whale.


4. Right whales

One of the most endangered whales in the world resides off the New England coast — the North Atlantic right whale. To film this episode, Peter headed out to sea while Dr. Rae learned what mainland scientists are doing to help.

Peter joined an aerial survey team near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to catch a glimpse of these rare creatures. Whether it be fate or the luck of the Wild Kingdom team, our co-host had a successful trip!

“After six hours of circling and filming in a small plane, we excitedly counted over 15 whales. This was highly unusual to see so many so quickly. The total North Atlantic population is only around 350,” Peter said.

A rare population or not, spotting whales isn’t an easy task. This species is always on the move, migrating to feed on zooplankton. A whale also faces many challenges during its travel. They have to navigate through ropes attached to hundreds of thousands of lobster traps and avoid ships.

But engineers are implementing solutions to the whale’s journey, as Dr. Rae saw at the New England Aquarium. Lobster traps are being redesigned to better facilitate right whale movement. This includes traps without ropes that are brought to the surface using electronic signals.

“The harbors of New England are humming with innovation and conservation and visiting was a wonderful experience!” Dr. Rae said.


Two Ssimitar-horned oryxes standing in a green field. One is eating grass and the other is looking towards the camera.


5. Scimitar-horned oryxes

For another remarkable wildlife conservation success story, turn to the scimitar-horned oryx. This species was driven to extinction in the 1980s due to habitat loss, agricultural expansion and hunting. Today, conservationists are celebrating the oryx’s 2023 endangered classification, a big win for the species as it signals there are enough oryxes in the wild to reproduce successfully and ensure its survival.

To learn more about the scimitar-horned oryx, Peter visited Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. Along with several Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos, the center has reintroduced hundreds of oryxes back to their original African habitat in Chad.

Peter joined Adam Eyres, the center’s director of animal care, in the treatment and annual physical of two young male oryxes that were being relocated.

“As we drove slowly back to the new location for the sedated oryx, whose head rested comfortably in my lap, I could not help but think of what a tremendous opportunity it was to be involved ever so slightly, hands-on with an animal that will someday be free in the wild of Central Africa again,” Peter said.


A guam kingfisher bird, standing on a brand. This endangered bird is amber in color with bright blue wings.


6. Guam kingfishers

Another endangered species featured in an upcoming episode is the Guam kingfisher. In the mid 20th century, brown tree snakes were accidentally introduced to Guam, wiping out kingfishers on the Pacific island. Though they’re now extinct in the wild, the species is recovering thanks in part to the AZA’s Species Survival Plan program.

To see the program in action, Peter visited the San Antonino Zoo where Guam kingfishers are raised in aviaries. Tiny kingfisher eggs are placed in incubators until they hatch. Then, the birds are hand fed small amounts of food until they are strong enough to be reintroduced to their own aviary.

“I was permitted, with disinfected and gloved hands, to feed a tiny mouth the size of a thimble a small piece of food which was rapidly consumed,” Peter said. “The long-term hopes are that when the snakes and other egg eating invasive predators are eradicated from the islands near Guam, they too will be flying free.”


We can’t wait for you to see these incredible stories of conservation in upcoming episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild! Be sure to watch Saturday mornings during NBC’s “The More You Know” programming block to see these spectacular species. Check your local listings for air times.

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