TV host, naturalist Jim Fowler dies at 89

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ROWAYTON -

Tributes are pouring in today following the death of local naturalist and former TV host Jim Fowler.

Fowler died Wednesday at his home in Rowayton. He was 89.

News 12 Connecticut's Marissa Alter sat down with Fowler's son to talk about his life and legacy.

Fowler was actually a star athlete who could've played professional baseball. But his son says nature was his true passion. Fowler gave many Americans their first, up-close look at animals in the wild as host of "Wild Kingdom" for nearly 30 years. The show aired from 1963 to 1988, then was revived in 2002.

He also made more than 100 appearances on "The Tonight Show," worked as a correspondent on the "Today Show," and even had a cameo on "Seinfeld."

Fowler's son, Mark, today talked about his father's impact. Mark Fowler says there was never a boring moment as the son of Jungle Jim.

"Millions were touched and they care about the natural world and they love wildlife," he said. "Talk about the greatest legacy you could ever have! So yeah, I'm very proud and I'm just celebrating an incredible life."

Mark Fowler is also part of Jim Fowler's legacy. He's followed his dad's lead, promoting preservation and conservation.

"He said, 'You know, Mark, go for your dreams. If you really dedicate yourself, you can make a difference in the world.' I thought that was amazing," he says.

Jim Fowler was a major advocate for wildlife conservation and preservation. A couple years ago, the land where he raised his family in New Canaan was turned into a nature sanctuary now called the Silvermine Fowler Preserve. It's a place the public can go for free to connect with nature. The land also holds lots of memories from Mark Fowler's childhood.

"As a dad, he was a total wildman," says Mark Fowler. "I remember one time my sister was being picked up for a date. And Dad walked out of the front door with a lion and said have her home by midnight, and she was home at 8 o'clock. The guy never showed up again. It was--it was hilarious."

It's stories like those that the family will laugh at as they look back on an advocate, mentor, and father.

Mark Fowler says his dad spent the last two years writing his autobiography. It's called "Jim Fowler's Wild Life" and will be released soon.

 

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