This is a paid piece from the Great Plains Zoo and Butterfly House and Aquarium.

Simplified: Stephanie Arne has worked as an underwater tour guide, hosted a wildlife show, helped conserve endangered wolves and toured the country in a tiny house. Now, as conservation director for the Great Plains Zoo, Arne is bringing her animal expertise to daytime television with an appearance on the Drew Barrymore show this week.

How did that happen?

In February 2020, Arne found out Drew Barrymore would be hosting a daytime television show, and while on vacation in Hawaii, Arne filmed several videos of herself as clips to send to the show – knowing that she wanted to be a guest.

She never sent the videos.

Fast-forward four years, and a producer Arne had been connected with on her days hosting Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" reached out to see if Arne would be able to come on the Drew Barrymore show.

Tell me more about Arne

Arne grew up in South Dakota and Iowa, and her obsession with animals started at a young age.

  • She went on to receive a bachelor of science from South Dakota State University, and after college got an internship and later a job at the Omaha Zoo, where she worked in every animal department.

For the next seven years, she traveled anywhere and everywhere around the world, working different jobs that allowed her to be close to animals – including diving with sharks.

"I did everything from working with researchers, doing surveys, and satellite tagging, to ecotourism and taking people diving on the Great Barrier Reef, looking for Nemo," Arne said.

How'd she end up on TV?

In 2013, Arne entered a contest to be a one-time host of "Wild Kingdom."

  • Not only did she win – and meet her husband (another contest entry) in the process – but she also went on to host until 2018.

During that time, she got connected to the television industry and made regular appearances on Harry Connick Jr.'s talk show. One of the producers on that show later went on to work for Drew Barrymore, and she reached out to Arne about making an appearance on an upcoming episode.

How'd she end up in Sioux Falls?

During the pandemic, Arne and her husband decided to leave their home base in California and move to Missouri where Arne worked at the Endangered Wolf Center in St. Louis.

  • Not long after she started there, Arne came through Sioux Falls, where she met with zoo and aquarium directors. They mentioned a merger was coming soon, and suggested that Arne could be the conservation director of the new, combined Butterfly House and Aquarium and Great Plains Zoo.
  • She started her role on an interim basis in 2022, and as of January is officially the zoo and butterfly house's conservation director.

Now, Arne is working to refine the organization's conservation programs. She's putting more focus on native species like Dakota skipper and black-footed ferret, while continuing to support the zoo's global partners working with rhino and snow leopard populations.

Tell me more about the Drew Barrymore appearance

Arne will be on the show Thursday, Feb. 15 bringing a surprise animal to "Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams.

Arne's message will be to share that, while exotic animals may seem like a fun pet, by adopting them as pets people could be harming conservation efforts.

Arne also hopes that if Sioux Fallsians tune in and share clips of her Drew Barrymore Show appearance on social media, she'll be invited back again.

How to watch

The show will air at 10 a.m. Thursday on FOX (KDLT2). It's also available with a subscription on Paramount+, YouTubeTV, Sling TV, Pluto TV, the Roku Channel and Amazon Prime Video.