Wildlife enthusiast and host of “Wild Kingdom” Jim Fowler has passed away. He died May 8, at the age of 89.
Fowler will forever be remembered for his passion both for animals and for educating others about them. It was important to him that people know how crucial it was to protect all animals.
The “Wild Kingdom” website states that whether he was presenting his message to schoolchildren or educating adults while making a guest appearance on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” he always had the same underlying message:
“What we have to do is ask ourselves, ‘What’s in it for me?’” he would say. “Only then will we realize that the continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is ultimately important to the quality of life of humans.”
Fowler got his start on “Wild Kingdom,” and was there at the very beginning, for its 1963 pilot episode. But his love of animals began long before that. He fell in love with wildlife while growing up on a farm in Georgia and went on to study zoology at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, before ever making his way to show business.
The “Wild Kingdom” series ran for over 20 years, ending in 1988.
The “Wild Kingdom” website states that Fowler will be remembered, “through the work he did on ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,’ as well as through the many parks, wildlife centers and nature preserves to which he lent his design and consultant expertise.”
Since Fowler’s passing, many fans have taken to Twitter, proving that the wildlife lover would not soon be forgotten. Among them was Jim Breheny, the director of the Bronx Zoo.
“We were saddened to learn of the death of our friend Jim Fowler,” wrote Breheny. “Growing up this kid from the Bronx & millions of others spent every Sunday night w/ him & @WildKingdom He was a force & role model in my career choice. As a kid I could not have imagined becoming his friend.”
We were saddened to learn of the death of our friend Jim Fowler. Growing up this kid from the Bronx & millions of others spent every Sunday night w/ him & @WildKingdom He was a force & role model in my career choice. As a kid I could not have imagined becoming his friend pic.twitter.com/HACfT0uE9e
— Jim Breheny (@JimBreheny) May 9, 2019
Whether people were lucky enough to call him a friend or they just met him briefly, he left a lasting impression, as one journalist who interviewed him recalled on Twitter.
“I’ll always cherish our unforgettable trip with wildlife legend @RonMagill, to reconnect him with his mentor,
#JimFowler,” wrote Rudabeh Shahbazi. “We had an amazing time on his ranch, where exotic animals roamed he told us stories — and what stories they were. RIP, Jim.”
I'll always cherish our unforgettable trip with wildlife legend @RonMagill, to reconnect him with his mentor, #JimFowler. We had an amazing time on his ranch, where exotic animals roamed he told us stories– and what stories they were. RIP, Jim.https://t.co/y11EIW600h
— Rudabeh Shahbazi (@RudabehShahbazi) May 9, 2019
Fans also remember him from his TV series, as well as his public outreach. Twitter user @Ichnologist went so far as to call Fowler an “inspiration.”
Sad to hear this news about Jim Fowler, but also makes me feel even luckier to have met him in NYC at the 2015 annual meeting of @ExplorersClub. Like many natural scientists of a certain age, he inspired me via 'Wild Kingdom' & his public outreach. Thanks for everything, Jim. https://t.co/CGvicHilrX
— Anthony J. Martin, Fully Vaxxed: Thanks, Science! (@Ichnologist) May 9, 2019
Although he may be gone, it’s clear that his impact on animal education and preservation is lasting.
Rest in peace, Fowler.