Host of Wild Kingdom, a long-running syndicated US TV show, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha insurance. Perkins, long past his hands-on years, mainly coordinated and narrated these adventures of filming wild aminals. The dirty work was done by people like Jim Fowler. Much parodied:

"My assistant Jim is now approaching the bear and will proceed to wrestle him to a standstill, while our crew gets a closeup view of the bear's unique incisors..."

Marlin Perkins (1905-1986)

Marlin Richard Perkins was born in Carthage, Missouri on March 28, 1905.

After attending the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri without graduating, Perkins began a 60 year career in Zoo management and curatorship in 1926:

Years        Position
1926-1938    St. Louis Zoo - Sweeper; Curator of Reptiles
1938-1944    Buffalo Zoological Gardens - Curator
1944-1962    Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago - Director
1962-1970    St. Louis Zoo - Director
1970-1986    St. Louis Zoo - Director Emeritus

In his initial position at the St. Louis Zoo as a lowly sweeper, Perkins donated a personal collection of reptiles and was promoted to the position of Curator of Reptiles. Under his Directorship, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago gained international recognition. He eventually returned to his beloved St. Louis Zoo where he remained until his death on June 16, 1986. A life size statue of Marlin Perkins adorns the grounds of the Zoo. (Note of Interest to Visitors: The St. Louis Zoo charges no entrance fee. It is comparable in size and collection to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C..)

It was during his years at the Lincoln Park Zoo that Perkins began his television career. His award winning Zooparade (4 Emmies; 1 Peabody; 1 Look) ran from 1949 until 1957. Between 1962 and 1986 he hosted the better known Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (4 Emmies) often sending hapless assistant Jim Fowler into the water to wrestle with anacondas.

One of his most enduring legacies was the helping to establish The Wild Canid Survival and Research Center (WCSRC) in 1971. This wolf sanctuary located about 20 miles southwest from St. Louis, Missouri has been instrumental in breeding wolves for eventual re-placement in to their natural habitats.

Selected Bibliography:

Perkins, Marlin. Animal Faces. Buffalo, N.Y., Foster and Stewart, 1944

Perkins, Marlin; Perkins, Carol Morse. "I saw you from afar" : a Visit to the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert. New York : Atheneum, 1966

Perkins, Marlin. My Wild Kingdom : an Autobiography. Thorndike, Me. : Thorndike Press, 1982

Perkins, Marlin. Zooparade.Chicago, Rand McNally, 1954


Who Was Who in America with World Notables Volume IX 1985-1989. Chicago : Marquis Who's Who

Western Historical Manuscript Collection / University of Missouri-St. Louis. Papers (Perkins, Marlin) 1873-1991

Wild Canid Survival and Research Center web site

Note: Who Was Who in America with World Notables erroneously lists Perkins as receiving a "DsC" degree in 1926. In fact, though he attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, he did not receive a diploma from them until 1971 when he was presented an honorary "Doctor of Science" degree. - Courtesy University of Missouri Archives Alumni Database.

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