TRIBUTES: Terry Nutkins, who died aged 66, was hailed as an inspiration to generation of children. Picture: Peter Jolly/Northpix
His agent John Miles said Nutkins died at home in Scotland on Thursday. He added: "He had fought for about nine months or so with acute leukaemia."
Nutkins found fame as co-presenter of the BBC children's show Animal Magic with Johnny Morris and also featured in The Really Wild Show.
The 66-year-old Londoner, who is survived by his wife, eight children and eight grandchildren, made his home in Glenelg on the west coast of Scotland, near the Isle of Skye.
Mr Miles said: "He was an absolutely lovely guy and just loved animals, and he was never happier than when he was with animals. We will all miss him very, very much."
Nutkins grew up near Marylebone station and avoided school to help out at London Zoo, where his expertise with animals became obvious.
He was sent to Scotland at the age of 11 to work with Ring Of Bright Water author Gavin Maxwell and help care for wild otters.
It was there that he lost the tips of two fingers after he was bitten by one of his animals.
Maxwell eventually became his legal guardian and Nutkins made the west coast of Scotland his home.
In recent years, he made guest appearances on Ready Steady Cook, Celebrity Ghost Stories and a tribute documentary to Australian "crocodile hunter" Steve Irwin.
Tributes flooded in online. On Twitter, Phillip Schofield wrote: "So sad to hear of the death of Terry Nutkins. I worked with him often in my 'broom cupboard' days. A delightful man & passionate naturalist."
Ben Fogle said: "Very sad to hear the sad passing of Terry Nutkins. He was one of my childhood inspirations."
Director of children's programmes at the BBC, Joe Godwin, said: "Terry Nutkins was a natural children's presenter – warm, passionate and devoted to communicating the wonders of the natural world to his young audience.
"Like many, I grew up watching him on the BBC's first ever natural history programme made especially for children – Animal Magic.
"He went on to present The Really Wild Show for seven years. I'm sure his enthusiasm and genuine love of animals will have inspired generations of children."
Mr Miles added: "He just loved animals. He fought many causes to make sure animals were looked after, and the environment in general."
"Terry was a fun, ebullient and enthusiastic naturalist," said the wildlife film-maker Simon King. "He expressed this through his work on television and through his conservation efforts.
"He had a great love of animals and will always be remembered for that."
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