Brookfield Zoo has partnered with NBC to promote the institution and its conservation mission by featuring the Chicago Zoological Society’s president/CEO, Dr. Michael Adkesson, and animals from the zoo’s collection on a weekly wildlife/nature series “Earth Odyssey,” which airs in the Chicago area on Saturday mornings on NBC-Channel 5.
“Earth Odyssey,” now in its fifth season, is part of NBC’s “The More You Know” block of educational programming and is hosted by Dylan Dreyer, a meteorologist who also appears on the “Today” show.
In addition to the network broadcasts on NBC network affiliates across the country, “Earth Odyssey” is also available on the networks Peacock streaming platform, something very attractive to Brookfield Zoo in terms of promoting the park and its mission to educate and promote wildlife conservation.
“We’re very excited about this partnership; we’ve had some great sessions,” said Adkesson in a phone interview. “I hope through this partnership we’ll be able to build on this to share what we’re doing at Brookfield Zoo and it lets us reach a very wide market.”
According to Adkesson, Hearst Media Production Group, which produces the show for NBC, reached out to Brookfield Zoo about the partnership. Dreyer and a film crew came to Brookfield Zoo earlier this spring to shoot short interviews with Adkesson that also showcase one of the zoo’s “ambassador” animals.
The first show in the new series, which aired June 24, included a brief segment where Dreyer interviewed Adkesson about the zoo’s focus on conservation. The animal ambassador featured during that segment was Kiinaq (pronounced key-nack), a gray seal that arrived at Brookfield Zoo in 2018 after being found stranded in the wild and considered unreleasable.
Kiinaq was not a perfect match for that episode’s star attraction – crustaceans — but was chosen because the first show had an “ocean conservation” message.
“Hopefully as we progress, the storylines and animals align more closely,” Adkesson said.
There are eight episodes in the new series, which is geared toward a younger audience and families. That audience was also of interest to Brookfield Zoo in their decision to invest in the partnership.
“It’s a great opportunity to reach kids and families,” Adkesson. “Our hope is that it will translate into them visiting the zoo to see the animals and hear our conservation stories.”
It’s also possible that the zoo may continue its partnership with “Earth Odyssey” beyond this season.
“We’re hoping to get a decision on that shortly,” Adkesson said.