For an animal lover like me who grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with host Peter Gros, it was a spectacular treat to see him live. Introducing himself and showing a clip of his first assignment – scuba diving with a great white shark! – the very young were introduced to his start as a wildlife expert and voice for education and conservation via Wild Kingdom. Initially a field correspondent for Wild Kingdom, Peter Gros became a co-host in 1985, but the show first premiered in 1963, and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Almost everyone has seen those nature shows showing footage of wild animals in their natural habitat, giving us a glimpse of animals most of us would never see in real life and learning about these wonderful creatures. The show also educated us about the endangered species and the importance of wildlife conservation.
So, threaded throughout Peter’s show was a message of positivity and successful revitalizations of nature and species rather than an “all is lost with no hope” downer. If there was one ‘message’ Peter Gros wanted to impart to the impressionable young audience members was that there IS hope and efforts to save endangered species and conserve nature are working and will continue to work. With a warm and inviting voice, Peter told stories of his adventures and showed several relevant video clips but the real treat that had all the kids on their feet were the live animal segments.
Peter picked volunteers from the audience for most of the animals that were brought onto the stage to help him educate us with interesting tidbits. My son had to resort to jumping up and down in the aisle to get Peter’s attention, which gave him a chance to go up on stage for the Anaconda snake presentation. But starting with the hissing cockroach, to the alligator, the Madagascar lemur, and kangaroo, and all the other animals there, every time an animal was brought out had the entire audience delighted and mesmerized.
This was my first time at The Hylton Performing Arts Center, and I would be very happy to return. It’s a beautiful space with several floors of balcony box seats along with the orchestra level seating that lent air of expansiveness that was pleasantly surprising. With an art gallery upstairs and a decent sized lobby downstairs, patrons would have plenty of space to gather for a drink or snack before heading into the performance hall. Another nice perk is that there’s plenty of free parking.
Running Time: Approximately One hour and 45 minutes, with no intermission.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Starring Peter Gros played for one day on April 21, 2013 at Hylton Performance Arts Center – 10960 George Mason Circle, in Manassas, VA. For upcoming performances at Hylton Performance Arts Center, check their website. To purchase tickets, call (888) 945-2468, or purchase them online.