Jim Simon was born in North Platte, Nebraska, in 1908 and moved  to  Riverton, Wyoming, with his family when he was ten. He became an amateur naturalist wh ile in his teens and decided to pursue a
degree in zoology. Studying under Dr. John Scott at the University of Wyoming, he obtained a master's degree, then stayed on to teach zoology for two years.

In 1936, Jim took an assignment as a ranger and naturalist in Yellowstone National Park where he studied distribution of fish species in the park and published his book, Yellowstone Fishes.

In 1937, Dr. Scott appointed Jim as Wyoming state fish commissioner and state fish warden. Jim undertook a complete inventory of Wyoming fishes and disposed of several obsolete hatcheries.

With the outbreak of World War II, Jim joined the Navy and served in the Pacific Theater, leaving naval service with the rank of lieutenant commander. After the war, he returned to Wyoming and the Game and  Fish Department where he published his definitive Wyoming Fishes 1946.

Jim  had  honed his skills with both still and motion-picture equipment, and upon his return to Wyoming, he began filming wildlife. One of his first film productions, Wyoming's Big Game, revealed his artistic talent and his eye for photographing wildlife.

In 1947, he became director of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park and the New York Zoological Society's Field  Station near Moran where he perfected his filmmaking skills, and his work soon came to the attention of Walt Disney. Disney later offered Jim a contract as field director and cinematographer.

His Vanishing Prairie and The Living Desert both won academy awards, as did Bear Country, Water Birds, and White Wilderness. His jaguar documentary, Jungle Cat, won filmdom's Famous Fives Award.

Following an African expedition to produce documentary for the New York Zoological Society, Jim brought  his family back to Wyoming. He was  hired as special projects director by the Wyoming Travel Commission and immediately created a series of publications and  television spots promoting Wyoming's outdoors. In  1971, Jim received the prestigious National Press Photographers Association Television News  Film Award.

Jim Simon's life would be cut short by lung cancer in 1973. In a personal note a year before his death, Wyoming Senator Clifford Hansen wrote to Jim, Few people have done more unusual things than you, and fewer still  have contributed so much to a state and nation. -Jay Lawson

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