Updated on October 10, 2023

If you’ve tuned into Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Protecting the Wild, you’ll notice some new faces. Get to know some of the women featured in the new series who are making strides in conservation across the United States.

Leaders in wildlife conservation

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

Featured in “Bear Cub Rescuedr rae wynn-grant

Current job: Research faculty, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara; studies mountain lion movement and behavior at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve

Education: Emory University, Yale School of the Environment, Columbia University

First wildlife job: Administrative assistant, World Wildlife Fund

Favorite animal: Bald eagle


Tell us about your first job in conservation.

Right after college, I was an administrative assistant at the World Wildlife Fund. Although I wasn’t out in the field or actively doing science, I was supporting all of the people who were actively doing conservation and I was learning so much in the process. Working as an administrative assistant gave me the motivation to go to graduate school and become a true scientist.


Do you have a favorite classic Wild Kingdom episode?

I absolutely cannot choose, but I’m always drawn to the episodes with primates.


How can the everyday person help with conservation and animals?

One great thing to do for conservation is to vote! Every election and every ballot have environmental issues, and your vote can make a huge difference in conservation efforts.


Watch this video to learn more about Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant.


Meredith Budd

Featured in “Crossing Cougar Countrymeredith budd on set of wild kingdom

Current job: Director of external affairs, Live Wildly Foundation

Education: University of Miami and University of Washington

First wildlife job: Tour guide in Costa Rica leading sea turtle conservation trips for high school students

Favorite animal: There’s a special place in my heart for our endangered Florida panther, but I love being able to spot our beautiful swallow-tailed kites gliding overhead while out exploring wild Florida.


What does it mean to you to work with Wild Kingdom?

My love for animals and the environment began at a young age, and so, Wild Kingdom was a go-to tv show for me. Knowing that the show was getting another reboot, and that I would be a part of it, was incredibly exciting! I am thankful for the opportunity to work with Peter Gros and David Mizejewski and to be able to share the important conservation story for our endangered Florida panther.


How can other women who are interested in conservation get involved in their community and beyond?

Like many fields that are dominated by men, women are also underrepresented in the conservation community. If you’re passionate about environmental conservation and looking to start a related career, seek out volunteer opportunities to gain experience. This also presents a great opportunity to network with those already working in conservation, and it can help build a network of people who can support you in your career goals. You can also seek out a mentor to help guide you even further.


If you could tell the Wild Kingdom viewers one thing, what would it be?

There has been much conservation success over the years, but there is still so much work to be done. The future of our wild places (and the wildlife they sustain) depend on us and the decisions we make today. I hope this new season of Wild Kingdom inspires you to be an advocate for “protecting the wild.”


Regina Mossotti

Featured in “Tale of the Red Wolf” regina mossotti holding wolf pup

Current job: Vice president of animal care, Saint Louis Zoo; Association of Zoo and Aquariums American red wolf SAFE coordinator and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national red wolf recovery team member

Education: Hawaii Pacific University, Southern Illinois University and Oregon State University

First wildlife job: Conducting water quality research in Hawaii

Favorite animal: Cheetahs and red wolves


What does it mean to you to work with Wild Kingdom?

Being able to work with Wild Kingdom has been a dream come true. Marlin Perkins, the original host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, has played a huge role in my life and my career. Not only did I grow up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom reruns that inspired me to love and appreciate wildlife, but two of my first jobs after I graduated college were at institutions that he directed and/or founded: the Saint Louis Zoo and the Endangered Wolf Center.


Marlin and his wife Carol were huge proponents of conservation off screen and really rolled their sleeves up and took action themselves. Their actions directly helped to save wolf species, and that legacy is something continues to inspire me to take action myself.


If you could tell the Wild Kingdom viewers one thing, what would it be?

I would tell the viewers of the Wild Kingdom to have hope and to know that they truly can make a difference. Your voice counts. Your actions matter. I see people every day stepping up on behalf of wildlife and wild spaces and having an impact. Whether it is in our own backyards (planting native plants to help restore our local ecosystems or sharing the stories of the animals we care about) or getting involved with national movements or organizations — every bit of it makes a difference.


How can other women who are interested in conservation get involved in their community and beyond?

For young women especially, I encourage them to pursue an education and career in a scientific/conservation field. There has been incredible progress over the last few decades to empower women to pursue careers in the scientific/conservation field, and I think we need to continue to encourage young women and keep making progress.

I would also encourage all women to look around their communities and see how they can get involved. Whether it’s volunteering at a conservation organization, such as a zoo or wildlife rescue center or focusing on other ways they can support organizations in their community’s working on conservation, they’re setting an example for the women and young girls in their lives and showing just what a difference women can make.


Dr. Nicki Rosenhagen

Featured in “Bear Cub Rescuefemale doctor performing surgery wild animal

Current job: Veterinarian for Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Helping Hands Veterinary Clinic

Education: University of Michigan and University of Illinois

First wildlife job: Work-study job at the Ruthven Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I prepped avian specimens for research collections. It was a very unique introduction to the field.

Favorite animal: I really love raccoons and cedar waxwings.


What does it mean to you to work with Wild Kingdom?

It’s an amazing opportunity to showcase the lifesaving and important work our team gets to do every day. I felt proud to be a part of these incredible stories, and it’s a really wonderful way to show my friends and family what work looks like for me.


If you could tell the Wild Kingdom viewers one thing, what would it be?

I would encourage viewers to take the time to slow down and appreciate the natural world. There are so many remarkable things happening with the plants, animals and insects just in our own backyards and we so often miss them or don’t appreciate them because we don’t take the time to just sit, watch and learn. Being in nature is a fantastic way to reduce stress and ignite curiosity and imagination while hopefully fostering some new respect for our wild neighbors.


How can other women who are interested in conservation get involved in their community and beyond?

Volunteering is an excellent way to start — especially because it provides an opportunity to “try on” a career path or opportunity while simultaneously giving back to the community. It’s how I started in this field in earnest, and it completely changed my life.


Beth Pratt

Featured in “Crossing Cougar Countrywoman sitting on chair in park

Current job: California regional executive director, National Wildlife Federation

Education: University of Massachusetts at Boston, Regis University

First conservation job: At age six, I started fundraising to save a property from development.

Favorite animal: I have so many favorites, but I might have to go with pika. But also, mountain lions, wolves, elephant seals, butterflies and frogs.


If you could tell the Wild Kingdom viewers one thing, what would it be?

Wildlife needs us. It is facing so many challenges like climate change and habitat loss. And we also need wildlife — we are all inextricably linked in this world. As National Wildlife Federation’s president Collin O’Mara said, “When we save wildlife, we save ourselves.”


How can others who are interested in conservation get involved in their community and beyond?

I think one the best ways to start is to check out the National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program. You can make a difference for wildlife in your own backyard!


Beth Firchau

Featured in “Lost Coral of Key Westwoman smiling with ocean behind her

Current job: Independent contractor for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Florida Reef Tract project

Education: Ohio State University and Old Dominion University

First wildlife job: Conservation educator for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Favorite animal: Sharks, though you can find something special about just about any creature or plant in the world.


What does it mean to you to work with Wild Kingdom?

I used to watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom along with the Jacques Cousteau series as a kid. Those shows helped frame my appreciation and sense of responsibility for wild things and wild places. Doing the shoot with the Wild Kingdom crew was a great experience. I’m proud to be able to bring that type of programming to a new generation and hope that it inspires their future investment in nature.


If you could tell the Wild Kingdom viewers one thing, what would it be?

Nature is fragile but resilient. Good planet stewardship is not hard, but it is an everyday activity to which we all should to commit.


How can other women who are interested in conservation get involved in their community and beyond?

Conservation starts at home. What you do in your own backyard can and does impact the world around you. Your actions can and do influence others. So first, be the change you want to see in the world. Second, look for ways that your interests and strengths can collaborate with others. Seek out those opportunities to serve with others to make a difference in your community.  And lastly, knowledge and experience are gifts that you must sometimes work to receive. Make good choices that build your path to your goals, seek to learn from every failure and success, and gather the resources (education and support networks) that will fortify you in your journey.


We’re proud to feature these amazing women in recent Wild Kingdom videos! Be sure to tune in to the episodes to see each of these women to see their work in action.

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