‘Wild Kingdom’ host Jim Fowler dies at 87

Photo of Tara O'Neill

Jim Fowler, known for his role as the longtime host of the wildlife television series “Wild Kingdom,” died Wednesday at his home in Connecticut at the age of 87.

Fowler started with the show as a co-host with Marlon Perkins, then took over as host when Perkins retired in 1985. On the show, Fowler would make the necessary moves to get close to wildlife — even if it meant wading into crocodile-infested waters.

Other than the television show, Fowler was also known for his time as a wildlife correspondent for the “Today” show and made frequent appearances on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight” show and “Conan.” He even had a cameo role in an episode of “Seinfeld.”

Fowler was a major advocate for wildlife conservation. In his hometown of Albany, Ga., he designed Chehaw Park, a wildlife animal park.

“Today, we celebrate the amazing life and legacy of Jungle Jim Fowler. Host of the Emmy Award winning Mutual of Omaha’s ‘Wild Kingdom,’ he has inspired millions to care about wildlife and the natural world,” said a statement from Chehaw Park. “A pioneer in education and conservation, his vision for a wildlife park without concrete, bars, and cages proved he was ahead of his time.”

In 2015, Fowler had homes in New Canaan and Rowayton, a coastal village in Norwalk.

Back in 2017, the Trust for Public Land announced the creation of the Silvermine Fowler Preserve, a six-acre nature sanctuary in New Canaan — a place Fowler and his wife Betsey called home for more than 30 years. The area is open for the public to roam and explore.

“The Silvermine Fowler Preserve protects acres of serene woodlands and a freshwater pond from the threat of development and creates new public access to the neighboring New Canaan Land Trust 41-acre Kelley Upland Sanctuary,” the announcement from the Trust of Public Land said.