There won't be lions, tigers and bears, but there will be other exotic animals from all over the world when The Ridgefield Playhouse brings Peter Gros, legendary wildlife expert, environmental conservationist and host of The Original Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” to the stage on Sunday, January 29 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. as part of the Ridgefield Academy Family Series.  The New Canaan Land Trust will host a VIP brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with Peter Gros and past host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Jim Fowler.

An exhibit of work by wildlife artist Betsey Fowler will be in the lobby.  Proceeds from the brunch will benefit The New Canaan Land Trust which helps preserve and protect open space in New Canaan.  Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which premiered in 1963, took viewers to the far corners of the world and studied wild animals in their natural habitats.

The Emmy Award winning hit show has since broken out of the television screen and has hit the road with longtime host Peter Gros.  In his popular live shows, Gros shares his wildlife adventures through a mix of storytelling and entertaining video clips and bloopers. As he introduces audiences of all ages to some of his exotic animal friends, he brings awareness to issues of conservation, travel and wildlife filming.  Some of the many animals that have appeared with Peter Gros at past performances include a Eurasian eagle owl, an Australian kookaburra that sings with the audience, a 17-foot Burmese python named “Julius Squeezer” that the audience can help hold, a giant African crested porcupine, a lemur and much more!

As a special treat, Scooby Doo, mascot of South Salem Animal Hospital, will be in the lobby for photo ops. Dimitri’s Diner (16 Prospect St., Ridgefield) is offering 10% off the bill before or after the show when tickets are presented.  This event is partially underwritten by Books on the Common, South Salem Animal Hospital/Noah’s Ark Animal Hospital with media sponsor 98Q.

Peter Gros is a frequent lecturer on conservation and preservation at universities, zoos, theaters and nature and science centers around the nation. His goal is to share his passion for the natural world with young people across the planet, inspiring them to protect animals both locally and globally. “We need to continue to deliver a powerful message about how each of us can make a daily difference in preserving our natural world,” Gros says. “It is possible to use our natural resources in a sustainable manner. We simply need to educate our nation’s youth about the importance of wildlife conservation.” Peter’s life is dedicated to inspiring young people to care about wildlife and wild places. He continues to be a Champion for the natural world, traveling and speaking around the United States.

As part of The Ridgefield Playhouse Arts for Everyone program, which helps make the performing arts available to economically disadvantaged residents of Fairfield County who cannot afford the cost of admission, even at reduced rates, the Union Savings Bank Arts for Everyone recipient is Family and Children’s Aid.  The Playhouse was founded in the belief that arts can and do make a difference in the lives of people, and that accessibility to the arts should not be limited by one’s ability to pay.  Arts for Everyone works with a wide range of non-profit organizations including ABC, Ability Beyond Disability, Danbury Youth Services, Family and Children’s Aid, Grassroots Tennis, Mental Health Associates of CT and the Out and About Club. Your donation helps provide tickets and transportation to the Playhouse.

For tickets ($40 VIP Meet and Greet, $25 Adults, $20 Children, VIP Brunch $50 per person and includes a ticket to the 1pm show) call the box office at 203-438-5795, or visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.  The Ridgefield Playhouse is a non-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT.