Santa Barbara County Woman Hosts Iconic Show About Nature, "Wild Kingdom"

Oct 24, 2019

It’s a iconic television show which helped generations of people over more than half a century learn about nature. A Santa Barbara County woman who shares that passion for nature was the first female host in the history of Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.”

Stephanie Arne has loved animals as long as she can remember. She says watching TV shows about animals while growing up in South Dakota inspired her. Arne says by the time she was in college in South Dakota, she was studying for a traditional career, in psychology. But, a trip to Africa while she was in school revived her dream of somehow working with animals.

She decided she wanted to learn everything she could about animals. So, for a decade Arne worked for zoos, and wildlife programs around the world. While working in Hawaii, she started hosting a television show, and discovered she had a knack at storytelling in front of a camera. It led to Arne’s dream job.

In 2013, Mutual of Omaha decided to revive its iconic show with new webisodes. They held a nationwide contest to find a host, and Arne won. It was a dream come true, hosting the show for five seasons. Arne believes getting people interested and excited about animals is critical to helping to save them and their habitats.

Production on the web version of “Wild Kingdom” ended after five seasons, and now Arne is one of the faces of a new online nature and science streaming service, CuriosityStream.com. It features documentaries about things like science and nature.

She and her husband are also wrapping up production on a new documentary about some endangered penguins. Arne says while some researchers are helping struggling species around the world through their studies, she can help by sharing the stories of these creatures with the public.