Animal expert Jim Fowler died on Wednesday. He was 89.

Fowler, who was known for his appearances on

In addition to his close friendship he shared with Johnny Carson and his scores of appearances on the host’s show, Fowler also made appearances on

While he studied zoology at Earlham College, Fowler also gained considerable attention for his skills on the baseball diamond as a star athlete.

In fact, the animal advocate turned down offers from both the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees to pursue his career and passion for wildlife, according to his website.

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A naturalist, Fowler made a point throughout his career to educate the public about wildlife species and raise awareness about preserving environments.

“Fowler’s memory will remain through the work he did on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, as well as through the many parks, wildlife centers and nature preserves to which he lent his design and consultant expertise,” Wild Kingdom’s website’s statement about his passing reads. “But perhaps his most important legacy will be the role he played in inspiring the next generation of naturalists and wildlife experts.”

Fowler not only developed a friendship with Carson, the two even traveled together.

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“Johnny was a quiet, private man,” the late wildlife expert told

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In addition to his 100-plus appearances on the

“I got a call in 1997 from the producer of

Since his passing, the director of the Bronx Zoo, Jim Breheny, paid tribute to the late animal expert on Twitter.

“We were saddened to learn of the death of our friend Jim Fowler,” Breheny wrote. “Growing up this kid from the Bronx and millions of others spent every Sunday night w/ him and

Fowler is survived by his wife Betsey and two children.

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