The Life Exotic

Former Honolulu Zoo educator Stephanie Arne shares her jungle fervor on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Stephanie arne’s years as the education outreach coordinator at the honolulu zoo society was just one of a slew of adventures that she has managed to pack into her 31 years. She also has guided eco tours along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, rescued penguins following an oil spill in New Zealand and searched for orangutans alongside a river in Borneo. And now, as the new Wild Guide host for Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom web series, Arne gets to continue her travels and take viewers along with her.

With her knowledge, passion and win-some enthusiasm for animals, Arne won a nationwide search for the perfect host. Last fall, the series released its first four webisodes-which include an up-close encounter with condors and a traverse alongside a herd of bison-and was set to resume filming in April for seasons two and three.

For Arne, it was a longtime dream come true. As a young child, Arne enjoyed watching animal programs, including the original Wild Kingdom. She liked the idea of being able to delve into an animal’s world and aimed to have a career where she could do the same.

As the education outreach coordinator at Honolulu Zoo Society-the Zoo’s affiliated nonprofit-Arne oversaw educational programs, fostered partnerships with local organizations, and occasionally visited local news stations to give informational snapshots on various animals. She also founded the Wildlife Conservation Fundraising program that teaches students about conservation issues and challenges that animals face, while enlisting their help in raising funds for local environmental nonprofits.

Although Arne couldn’t be happier about being a Wild Guide, she also still is very connected to the Honolulu Zoo and Hawai’i.

“There is a big group of individuals [at the Zoo] that really absolutely adores the animals and will do whatever it takes to educate the public,” Arne says. “I miss that whole atmosphere. Going into the community in Hawai’i is incredible-the people there are so in love with the ocean … and they want to do something to help [the environment].”

Nothing is set yet, but Arne is hoping to film a Wild Kingdom episode in Hawai’i to “show off all of the beautiful islands and great animals” and share stories about the struggles of animals like whales and monk seals. She also aims to highlight environmental issues that Hawai’i faces, including the pervasiveness of micro-plastics on local shores.

Arne says that next season will bring viewers even closer to the animals and hopes that her stories can promote respect and understanding about all types of creatures.

“Any way I can show people that animals are a lot more like us than we think, then I am pretty stoked,” Arne says. “These animals are trying to survive just like we are, and the decisions we make daily can impact their lives.”

“My goal is to show people how incredible these species are-ugly or cute-and how their role is just as vital in this world as ours is.”

To view Wild Kingdom‘s latest webisodes, visit For more information and to follow Arne’s journey, check out Wild Kingdom and Stephanie Arne on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram.

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