Once upon a time, there were animal advocates such as Jack Hanna, Joan Embery, Jacques Cousteau and the recently passed Jim Fowler. They made consistent rounds amongst both daytime television and late-night talk shows. They had their own television specials as well as regular television shows.
We were all enthralled.
Perhaps it was due in part to the limited networks available. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was just good quality television that allowed the public to see and experience nature in a way that they usually could not.
Before MTV and ESPN converted the nation to cable television, Sunday nights belonged to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. In fact, that Mutual of Omaha’s sponsorship of the television series has to be one of the best investments ever in media purchasing, as anyone in their mid to late 40s or older invariably will associate the insurance company with Wild Kingdom as well as the play the old jingle in their mind whenever they see Mutual of Omaha’s name.
As mentioned in the leading paragraph, we recently lost on the Wild Kingdom’s hosts, the late and great Jim Fowler. Just as happened with the late Steve Irwin, PETA has come out with a statement against the ones that helped a nation, if not the world, fall in love with animals that otherwise may not have.
PETA refers to them as “wildlife warriors” and accuses them of “showboating egos and titillating audiences at the expense of animals” rather than educating.
I am not sure I agree. In fact, I am sure I don’t agree.
People such as Jim Fowler did gain celebrity status during their times. But it wasn’t because of their infectious personalities. It wasn’t because of their beauty. It certainly wasn’t because of their Instagram accounts or advertising campaigns with them laying mostly naked in a studio advocating an extreme opinion.
No, that is saved for PETA and its celebrity advocates.
The real showboating and harassment seems to stem from that organization whose relevancy is based on shock tactics and half or no-truths to stir emotion and develop an income of patrons either guilted in repentance through monetary donations or harbor extreme views on nature and the world that are masked and misled.
Even something like a column on Steve Irwin can result in action from PETA ranging from a letter to the editor, to threatening newspapers or magazines to cut ties with the columnist or writer, to going after anyone associated with the columnist or writer.
Obviously, I am not a fan of PETA. I am a fan of nature and wild animals. I advocate for conservation and protection in ethical means. My thoughts of what is ethical and what PETA deems ethical are worlds apart, though.
And for the “wildlife warriors” that the majority of my generation grew up admiring in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I applaud for introducing that love of our natural world to all who many have been tuned in.
Rest in peace Mr. Fowler.