I actually got inspired to work with wildlife as a little kid because I used to love watching nature shows. In fact, this show, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom was one of my favorites when I was a kid.

And when I was a kid, I lived in a big city and I didn't know that nature was super accessible to this city, so I thought in order to be in nature, you had to be a nature show host! And as I grew up, I went to college and learned that there are other ways to be in nature and that one was being a scientist. And that's when I discovered wildlife ecology.

And as soon as I discovered that in science, it has been a pretty straightforward path ever since. I've always been interested in carnivores I think that there's something so special about top predators and how they really control entire ecosystems.

So when I had the opportunity to study bears, I was so excited to do that. It allowed me to actually come back to my home state of California and learn more about the nature that was always right outside of my door.

The best and easiest way for humans and bears to peacefully coexist together is for humans to take responsibility for our food. Bears are hungry all the time just like me and they really just want to eat whatever we're eating. So dispose of your garbage the right way in a bear-proof garbage can. Make sure that your pet's food stays indoors, and if you have a grill in your backyard, make sure you clean it off.

Whatever you do, don't attract bears to your space. Man oh man people in general are pretty fearful of bears. They think that bears are going to hurt them and really bears especially black bears are super peaceful. They really like to stay by themselves and they don't want trouble.

So the main misperception people have is that bears are dangerous wild animals. They are wild animals and they can really hurt you but in general they just want to be left alone.

For any adults out there who have kids that might be interested in nature, I would say make sure that they know that there are so many different ways to be a wildlife conservationist. You can be like me and be outside all the time taking data and following these animals around, but you can also be a writer, you can be an educator, you could be an artist, you could be a computer scientist. There's so many different skills that are really important for nature conservation.

Everywhere I go people, want to know, well how can I, just a normal person, help with nature conservation? Listen, the main way you can help is vote. Every election, every opportunity, every ballot, every elected official has some kind of stance on nature and the environment. There's always some legislation to be passed so if you can do anything, make sure to vote and vote in favor of the environment.

Being on Wild Kingdom today is an example of how my life has really come full circle. I used to be a little kid in the city watching this show on my grandparents living room floor and now I'm appearing on the show as a wildlife ecologist as an expert. In this really making a difference in the world and being able to appear on this tv show, I hope that my role on this show can show all kinds of city kids like me that they too can be a part of this work and a part of this movement.

Updated on November 22, 2023

Introducing Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant! She’s a wildlife ecologist, conservationist, equity and justice advocate and storyteller. Dr. Wynn-Grant is active in scientific research studying the behavior and ecology of North American bears and African lions. She’s currently a research faculty member at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara, as well as a National Geographic fellow, and a visiting scientist at the American Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Wynn-Grant joined the Wild Kingdom crew in Washington state to film the black bears episode of Protecting the Wild.

Check out the video to learn more about Dr. Wynn-Grant.

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An image from a classic Wild Kingdom episode, featuring Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler. An image from a classic Wild Kingdom episode, featuring Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler.

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