The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 20, 2013

Noted zoologist Marlin Perkins’ ashes returning home to Carthage

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Mo. — After traveling the world to promote wildlife conservation, the final resting place for Marlin Perkins will be his hometown of Carthage.

The ashes of the famous zoologist and Carol, his wife, will be returned to Carthage for burial next to Perkins’ parents in Park Cemetery.

A public service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Park Cemetery. Frank Stine, cemetery administrator, said the Perkins family is planning “a simple ceremony” and that members of the public “are welcome to attend and honor him and his life.”

Perkins was born in Carthage on March 28, 1905, and died June 14, 1986, in St. Louis. His wife Carol, a one-time kindergarten teacher, became an author, TV commentator and lecturer on wildlife and endangered species after marrying Perkins. When she died in October, news reports noted the family would plan a public memorial service where the two could be buried together in Carthage.

Perkins was the recipient of many national and international honors. He was recognized in his hometown by a statue in Central Park, and last year became a part of the new Carthage Hall of Heroes erected in the Fair Acres Family Y.

“People in Carthage treasure Marlin Perkins,” said Sue Vandergriff, a Carthage historian who did the research and writing for the heroes display.

“I tried to write more about his youth, because that’s when he started studying animals and keeping bugs and snakes in his room, which is something his mother, and later his aunt, didn’t like very much.”

Perkins attended Carthage schools, then Wentworth Military Academy. He briefly attended the University of Missouri but quit school to work in the St. Louis Zoo. He rose from maintenance worker to reptile curator in 1928. He was hired as curator, then director, of the Buffalo (N.Y.) Zoological Park, then served as director of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago before returning to the St. Louis Zoo as director.

After hosting “Zoo Parade,” a Chicago-based television program, he was offered the job as host of the nature show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” Until he retired in 1985, he used the show to promote wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species.

100th anniversary

Carthage celebrated the 100th anniversary of Perkins’ birth in 2005 with a series of exhibits and special events sponsored by the Carthage Public Library and the Powers Museum.