No unicorns perhaps but Dr. Lester Fisher, director of the Lincoln Park Zoo for decades, has treated and worked with every other kind of animal. Listen HERE to my conversation with this Chicago legend.
It all began after former “Zoo Parade” and later “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Host” Marlin Perkins departed the zoo in Chicago. His replacement was Dr. Fisher. And entire generation grew up watching him with Ray Raynor on a segment called “Ark in the Park.”
I reminisce about the chimpanzee tea party – which I was the last person to host, but was an institution at the zoo for decades.
Dr. Fisher says he’s glad that sort of thing isn’t done today, as times do change.
We talk about the zoo Species Survival Programs – and how zoos work with one another so animals are no longer taken from the wild.
We get into it – and talk about whether or not zoos should or shouldn’t have elephants. But moreover the future of elephants, and other species, from Amur Leopards to orangutan species….they’re really disappearing, and some really fast. For some species zoos are now their last haven.
Dr. Fisher is a friend of Betty Whites’s and at age 96, he’s the only person I know who can call her “kid.”
In his book “Dr. Fishers Life on the Ark,” he talks about Bushman the legendary Chicago gorilla, still on display at the Field Museum. He also reminisces about some of the animals who got away, including a sea lion and a flamingo. Did a bear really wander into a Lincoln Park bar?
Dr. Fisher finally reflects on his most significant contribution to the zoo.