An appealing, unpretentious life-story. Perkins, the longtime host of TV's ""Wild Kingdom,"" also has 40-plus years as a zoo director to report on--along with countless expeditions in furtherance of both pursuits. A boyhood enthusiasm for wild animals, snakes in particular, led Perkins to apply for a job at the ""glamorous"" Saint Louis Zoo--where he was shortly in charge of the few reptiles, tucked away in a basement. Success at Saint Louis (with much help, he insists, at each step) led to directorial stints at the Buffalo Zoo, Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, and back at Saint Louis. During those years, his variegated experiences included force-feeding a sickly 19-ft. shake named Blondie (while eight men held her down); capturing and bringing back baby gorillas from Africa; creating a wolf sanctuary in Saint Louis; and lecturing extensively on the need for both land conservation and species preservation. Perkins' first TV program, ""Zooparade,"" originated in brief studio appearances with a bullfrog and other small creatures; he suggested the in-zoo shows and, when they caught on, the showman-ly name. Much of his narrative--accounts of filming ""honeymooning"" lions in Africa's Nairobi National Park, capturing and training wild elephants in India, even searching for the Abominable Snowman--will stir memories among devoted viewers. What is most engaging, though, is Perkins' unaffected pleasure at being witness to such wonders. He's as likeable in print as on the tube.