Stephanie Arne, a Honolulu wildlife educator and global explorer, is the new Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Wild Guide, Mutual of Omaha announced Monday.
Arne competed in a nationwide contest to win $10,000 and the chance to host all-new Wild Kingdom webisodes premiering this fall on the Wild Kingdom TV YouTube channel.
A South Dakota native with infectious humor and a dynamic personality, Arne said hosting a wildlife TV show has been a lifelong dream.
She serves as a wildlife educator for the Honolulu Zoological Society and coordinates outreach programs for more than 7,000 children each year. From conducting marine biology snorkeling tours in Australia to directing youth adventure camps in Japan, she’s spent the past decade exploring the world to experience wildlife and spread her conservation message.
"The Wild Kingdom Wild Guide process has been mind blowing. I've realized that so many of my life experiences have prepared me for the role of Wild Guide," Arne said. "I’m so grateful to everyone who helped me get to this point. I was made to teach people about wildlife and show how they can help protect the planet that we share. I'm ready!"
As the Wild Guide, Arne will take viewers on fun, exciting adventures in the modern-day Wild Kingdom. The webisodes will be a high impact, mini-episode version of the classic Wild Kingdom program, redefined for today’s generation of viewers and broadcast online. The series is slated to premiere this October.
"Stephanie is exactly what we were looking for to host the new series – her energy, passion and excitement about wildlife and nature is contagious," said John Hildenbiddle, senior vice president of brand management, Mutual of Omaha. "Each finalist was outstanding, but Stephanie really exceeded our expectations and brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to carry the message of Wild Kingdom to the next generation of viewers."
Arne will also interact with viewers through social media and personal appearances.
Mutual of Omaha launched the search for a new Wild Guide in March with a contest to find someone energetic, adventurous and excited to learn about wildlife alongside viewers. Contestants submitted short videos illustrating why they should be the next Wild Guide. Twelve semi-finalists were chosen, and an online vote narrowed the field to the three finalists: Arne; Reggie Busse of Omaha, Neb.; and Thiago Silva of El Paso, Texas. The finalists traveled to Omaha to participate in interviews with show producers, an on-camera screen test and other activities to win the title of Wild Guide.
Mutual of Omaha is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. As part of the celebration, a first-of-its-kind mobile adventure iPhone app, My Wild Kingdom, which enables users to add virtual animals to any photo or video and share instantly with friends, is now available for free through the Apple App Store. Favourite Website Awards (FWA) recently named the app Mobile of the Day.
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which premiered on network television on Jan. 6, 1963, pioneered the format of wildlife TV and remains one of the most loved and respected wildlife programs in TV history. Wild Kingdom received 41 major awards including four Emmys and an endorsement by the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for television recommended for family viewing. To learn more about Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, visit www.wildkingdom.com.