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How Big Cats Brought Peter Gros to Wild Kingdom

May 16, 2022
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Peter Gros has been a recognizable face alongside fellow Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom hosts Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler. But how did he land this gig?

From Upstate New York to Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom host Peter Gros grew up discovering wildlife in his New York Hudson Valley home. This curiosity eventually led him to a career in wildlife and television, all of which began because of his work with big cats. Here’s what Peter had to say on how he came to join Wild Kingdom:

peter with tiger and holding tiger cub

I’ve always been interested in all wild animals, even those pollinators that frequently stung me as a child. I became more interested in preserving wildlife and wilderness as I spent more time in the great outdoors. My backyard playground was 3,600 acres full of wildlife and wild flora that my grandfather had forested. This is where I spent many hours of my young life in and around the lakes, streams and forests. Inevitably my mom would suggest, “Peter, you can leave those clothes outside.”

After attending school for animal husbandry and training, I became acutely interested in endangered cats. Many years later I was responsible for designing endangered species breeding programs for large and small cats at our conservation park.

I was involved with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) species survival program and able to share valuable information with other credited parks and zoos.

At that time all spotted and striped cats were on the endangered species list. When the parent to one of our Bengal tigers produced seven cubs rather than the usual two to three, we were elated.

peter gros and jim fowler on johnny carson show

Once the cubs spent the first 24 hours with their mother receiving the necessary colostrum (this delivers the antibodies to the cubs), it became apparent she would not be able to care for all of them. So, we started bottle feeding them. As the news traveled about the world’s largest litter of tiger cubs, we were contacted by the people from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. We knew it would be a good platform for literally millions of people who could be influenced by seeing these healthy young cubs up close on camera. We knew this was an opportunity to educate the viewing public of the importance of preserving these magnificent, endangered cats and their habitant.

And who was there when I arrived? Jim Fowler! Our educational segment went very well that night and soon thereafter I was offered what I knew to be the best job in the world, cohost of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom … and the rest is history ….

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