Animals, kids and video highlight Peter Gros program at Omaha’s Holland Center

PGroswithSeinfeldRipaYou know the old saying for performers – Never work with kids or animals? Well, Peter Gros apparently missed that lesson.

Gros, one of the stars of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, led a presentation on Wild Kingdom at Omaha’s Holland Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 8th.

Gros shared some video highlights or bloopers from his time with the show (2005-07).

He started with a story about when he first joined the team. He admitted embellishing his experience with scuba diving.

For his first assignment for the show, he was assigned to see if sharks were attracted to bright colors and a new shark repellant. His scuba suit color? Yellow.

How would they check the attraction question? He was to go underwater and see if the shark was attracted. It was.

What about the new repellant? It didn’t work.

But, Gros had the pleasure of seeing great white sharks upclose.

Having survived that experience, Gros went on to other opportunities with wild animals. He participated in recording cheetahs running. They reached a speed of 72 mph. Their internal temperatures reached 105 degrees. They immediately stopped and cooled their bodies. Then, resumed the chase.

Another highlight included a baby crocodile. Jim Fowler, long time host of the show, was holding a baby croc. It grabbed Gros’ pant leg. They tried to pull it off. No luck. They used a stick to try to break the clench. Nope.

Finally, Gros pulled away, tearing a small hole in his pants. The crowd laughed over that resolution.

Gros was good at mixing the video with live animals on stage.

Among the animals we were able to see were legless lizards. They are not snakes, as the lizards have eyelashes and ears. In addition, their tail can be broken off and then grow back.

Gros brought out an alligator. He had a small boy come up on stage.

Gros looked at the gator handler said, “What do you think – 25 lbs.? That should work.” The audience laughed.

The boy got to actually touch the rock hard top of the gator. Then, he touched the underbelly, and learned where the gator was soft.

Gros brought out a honey bear from South America. The honey bear is attracted to bee hives, as it enjoys the honey. Its 4-inch tongue digs in for the honey. It will also eat ants and termites.

Gros learned the hard way about the bear’s tongue action.

“I put him on my shoulder once,” he said. “He thought my ear was a hive and stuck his tongue in it. It was the last time I put him on my shoulder.”

He brought out a serbil, a cat. The serbil was once used to make coats. It took six of the cats to make a coat, Gros said.

An audience favorite was a monkey. He was brought on stage by his handler. The monkey looked around, walking to the front of the stage and seemingly viewed each person in the first couple of rows.

Then, it turned its attention to Gros and the camera operator. It was determining if people were a threat to its handler, Gros said. It’s protective of the handler, he said.

The monkey checked out three trees on stage as props. It eventually made its way to a ledge on the stage. It grabbed a small tree and tipped it over, looking for ants.

It grabbed a leaf off the tree and started eating it.

The monkey was walking around, jumping on the table or walking to the edge of the stage. It kept going to the camera operator and checking him out.

The last animal brought out to the stage required the help of seven children.

An anaconda – half grown at about 7 feet long – was laid out in the children’s arms.

Other animals displayed during the program included: king vulture, eagle owl, cane toad and an alligator snapping turtle.

The audience loved the show. Gros did a great job interacting with the audience and the children on stage. His knowledge of the animals was amazing.

The message that he wanted to leave the audience with was a simple one: the Earth and its inhabitants are fine. One woman is credited with saving hundreds of cats in Africa by introducing herding dogs to farmers and ranchers, he said.

“I see pockets of success,” Gros said. “…We have everything we need to make the planet work…We just need to do it smarter.”