Peter Gros, the co-host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, made a return visit to The Saturday Early Show along with some animal friends, including bear cubs, an eagle and a giant snapping turtle.
Also making an appearance on Saturday was 9-year-old Catie Ricca who assisted Gros, thanks to a wish she made to the Starlight Foundation. Catie, who loves animals, is the proud owner of Babie, a 14-pound, black-haired Cockapoo dog who came along with her to the show.
Gros has been the co-host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom since 1985. The program has been honored with 41 major awards, including four Emmy Awards and an endorsement by the National PTA for television programming recommended for family viewing.
The Wild Kingdom co-host has more than 22 years of field experience with captive wildlife. In his former position as Director of Land Animals and vice president at Marine World/Africa USA, he established breeding programs for 377 endangered animals.
He also developed a rehabilitation program for birds of prey, as well as the largest captive breeding colony of ostriches in the United States. He is a licensed Exhibition & Animal Educator for the USDA and an active member of the American Zoo and Aquariums Association. Gros is on the Board of Directors of the Suisun Marsh Natural History Association and the Children's Environmental Trust Foundation, International.
Gros brought the following animals with him to The Saturday Early Show:
- North American Alligators: These reptile may look dangerous but they are fine if left alone. The difference between alligators and crocodiles is that alligators are not as aggressive. They eat fish, snakes, etc. Crocs eat large prey. Also, crocodiles have long narrow snouts with protruding teeth, and they often whip their tails around. Alligators are much more sedate. The underside of an alligator is very soft. If an alligator is turned on its back, blood runs out of its head and it passes out.
- Giant Alligator Snapping Turtle: It is the largest American fresh water turtle, reaching 200 pounds in weight. The turtle's coloring matches its home river in the Southeastern United States. Its name describes the turtle accurately. It has a strong alligator-like tail and powerful jaws, that are capable of hundreds of pounds of pressure per square inch. They may look mean but the turtles are not aggressive towards people. To eat, they lay at the bottom of the river with their mouth open and wiggle their worm-looking tongue to attract fish. If you see a giant alligator snapping turtle, just remember he or she may be generations old because they live to be over 200.
- Corn snake: This 4-1/2 foot long snake is the color of Indian corn (orange and red), which is how it got its name. The snake eats rats, mice and other small animals. Gros says snakes are nature's way of helping to control disease because they prey on disease-carrying vermin.
- North American Black Bear: Gros brought to The Saturday Early Show some black bear cubs that weigh about 5 pounds each. He says there are over 600,000 North American Black Bear in America. The bears eat nuts, berries, acorns, roots and insects. Black bears are shy and usually avoid contact with humans. Gros says problems occur when people try to feed them.
- Golden Eagle: This proud symbol of America weighs about 12 pounds and has a 6 1/2 foot wingspan. The eagle eats small mammals, coyotes, snakes, etc.
Gros says it once was on the endangered species list, but it is making a comeback. Golden eagles are almost entirely located in western mountain regions of the U.S., and are considered one of the most powerful birds in the world. They build their nest of large sticks strong enough to support a human being. Gros says eagles are beneficial since they keep unwanted rodents, squirrels and rabbits in check. Contrary to old tales, they do not attack dogs, children or cattle.
- Dumeril Boa Constrictor: The other snake Gros brought to The Saturday Early Show studio hails from Madagascar. It is 5-1/2 feet long and weighs 45 pounds. The Dumeril boa has brown, orange and tan colors varying from snake to snake. Dumeril boas occur naturally in the south and southwestern part of Madagascar. They can grow to about 1.8 to 2 meters in length. The snake's litter sizes range from two to more than two dozen.