September 29th 2013 | Director

Gordon Hubbell

When Dr. Hubble graduated in 1959, there were only six full-time veterinarians in the country in zoo work. He began communicating with other zoo veterinarians around the country, and starting the Zoo Veterinary Association. He moved to Miami and began working for the Crandon Park Zoo as a full-time veterinarian and then director.

00:00:00 - 00:00:46

Okay, I’m Dr. Gordon Hubblle. I was born and raised in the west side of Cleveland suburbs, born in Lakewood, raised in Fairview Park. And I went to college at Ohio State studied veterinary medicine. Actually I got my interest in wild animals I guess, back in junior high school. ‘Cause I was the kid on the block that took care of all the injured wildlife. And then when I was in junior in high school, we were assigned to write a theme about what we wanted to become someday. And I had no idea actually back then. And my dad suggested that I interview a friend of his in Rotary who was a veterinarian.

00:00:46 - 00:01:12

And so I went down and interviewed him and quite by coincidence, he was also the part-time vet at the Cleveland Zoo. And so after I interviewed him I thought that’s pretty neat. I wrote my theme. I wanted to be a veterinarian. And then I went back and volunteered at his animal hospital. And the dogs and cats mainly, but occasionally a zoo animal. Well, let me back you up just a minute.

00:01:12 - 00:01:15

What was your birthday?

00:01:15 - 00:01:19

Oh, I was born February 28th, 1935.

00:01:19 - 00:01:28

And when you said you were doing animals or taking care of them in the neighborhood, were you collecting animals when they were sick or people were bringing them to you?

00:01:28 - 00:01:30

How’d you get that interest?

00:01:30 - 00:01:50

People just brought them in to me. It was usually a bird with a broken wing or something like that. And quite often the animals that we got were not salvageable. They just were so far gone that they didn’t survive. But it was interesting anyway, taking care of these animals and tried to pull them through their ailments.

00:01:52 - 00:01:55

Were you a kid who brought snakes home?

00:01:55 - 00:02:38

Yeah, and bats too. I loved bats when I was a kid, and we knew an area where there was a big tunnel under the road that big brown bats used to hibernate in the winter time. So I would go down there and pull a couple off the wall and bring them home, warm them up. Let them fly around the house, and feed them ground beef and cheese for a few days, and then take them back and let them go back into hibernation again. Snakes have always been an interest of mine. I used to collect snakes up there. Of course we didn’t have to worry about poisonous snakes ’cause there weren’t any in that particular area. But yeah, I think they’re interesting animals.

00:02:38 - 00:02:40

What’d your parents do?

00:02:40 - 00:03:37

My father was a commercial artist, a rather famous one. He painted aviation pictures. He was commissioned each year to go out to Cleveland National Air Races and take pictures of the planes that were qualifying and then paint a painting of the winner. And during that time we got to know the pilots and the planes and I’ve seen several planes crash out there. In fact, one time we were out there when a P-38 was qualifying, and we noticed that he didn’t come around the second time, ’cause the course was fairly large. We could only see part of it. And then all of a sudden there’s a whoosh over our heads and this P-38 sailed over our heads, and out over the Cleveland Airport. And he couldn’t put his laps down.

00:03:38 - 00:04:43

This one engine was on fire and so he couldn’t slow down. So he flew around the entire airport, probably about 10 feet off the runway trying to slow down. And finally belly landed right in front of us. And the airplane slid across the runway into a fence and he jumped out, ran down the wing and the thing blew up. Wow! Saw P-40 crash out there, in the middle of the railroad station on west side Cleveland and also an experimental plane. They had a research plan out that the federal government did at the airport, and they experimented with different kinds of planes. And this one plane had the engine behind the pilot and they’d had problems with them before and they just happened to be looking out the window, and this thing flew over and it was on fire and it blew up.

00:04:46 - 00:04:52

So you were exposed to airplanes at a young age. Oh yeah, we used to go out and fly almost every weekend.

00:04:52 - 00:04:55

Did that peak your interest that you wanted to be a flyer?

00:04:55 - 00:05:49

No, not at all. And today I really don’t enjoy flying that much (chuckles). Now you indicated you had to write a paper and you interviewed veterinarian. That was the spark that you thought, wait a minute, this is something I’m interested in. That was the spark that got me interested in veterinary medicine. And then as I got into college, I got a part-time job as a keeper at the Columbus Zoo, working weekends. And that’s really what solidified my interest in zoo animal medicine. And when I graduated in 1959, of course there were only, I think six full-time veterinarians in the country in zoo work.

00:05:49 - 00:06:27

And I rode around to different zoos and they all said, no (indistinct). The second year, well, I went off into practicing in smaller practice in Cincinnati, but I worked for the fellow who was the part-time veterinarian for the Cincinnati Zoo. And he was an alcoholic, and didn’t show up for days and in at work. So when the Cincinnati zoo called, then I got to do the work there and I enjoyed that. Well again, let me back up. You were a part-time keeper and you were going to school.

00:06:27 - 00:06:33

And so on the weekends, how’d you get this job as a part-time keeper at the Columbus Zoo?

00:06:33 - 00:07:06

I think mainly through Warren Thomas, who was working there. Had worked there for several years. And I can’t recall exactly, I know I went out and applied for it. Talked to Earl Davis, the director of the zoo. And Earl was an interesting guy too. A politician, he was really not interested in the zoo or the animals at all. Spent every afternoon or the neighborhood bar drinking. But anyway, he had the good sense to hire me as a part-time keeper.

00:07:06 - 00:07:08

And what did you do as a part-time keeper?

00:07:08 - 00:07:59

Well, (chuckles) the first day I came in, I was told to report at six o’clock in the morning and it was pitch dark. It was March, 1960. Let’s see, no 1957. And the head keep there, gave me the keys to the birdhouse and he said go over to the birdhouse, and the keys will unlock the back door and just go and wait till the keepers arrive. And so I did. A cold, windy and I went over unlocked the back door. It was pitch dark, and opened the back door and a voice yelled out, “Shut the door bub.” And I thought, wow, somebody here. So I fumbled around, reached around, finally found the light switch, turned it on.

00:07:59 - 00:08:27

There was nobody there. So I walked all through the building and there was nobody in the building (chuckles). And I came back and I noticed there was an African gray parrot sitting on a perch right by the back door. And he apparently was the one that said that. I worked at the birdhouse there for two years. And that bird never said that again. He said a lot of other things, but he never uttered those words again. Which was kind of amusing.

00:08:28 - 00:08:39

I also did little work in the reptile house, and some of the other parts of the zoo, but mainly the birdhouse. So you had a relationship with (indistinct).

00:08:39 - 00:08:40

Warren Thomas was the veterinarian?

00:08:40 - 00:08:52

No. He was a student. He was in my class, and he had worked there as a part-time keeper. So you’re both there as part-time keepers. Yeah. Okay.

00:08:52 - 00:08:57

And then how long did this part-time job last?

00:08:57 - 00:09:06

Well, it lasted a couple years until I graduated and then went down to Cincinnati to work in a small animal practice, doing the zoo work part-time.

00:09:06 - 00:09:08

Now was this your own practice or you were working for someone?

00:09:08 - 00:09:45

No, I was working for somebody else. Yeah, I remember one of my first escapades out in the zoo. We got a call one morning at I think… Well I went into work at nine o’clock in the morning, started treating the dogs and cats. And we got a call from the zoo at 9:15. The head keeper there stated that their new snow leopard was sick, had eaten some rotten meat, looked like it was dying. Would I please come out and save its life. Well, (chuckles) I was just fresh outta college.

00:09:45 - 00:10:30

I didn’t know a whole lot about zoo work, and the snow leopard was the most expensive animal in the zoo. At that time, it cost $3,500. More than an elephant. Three times as much as an elephant, as a matter of fact. So I packed up a little kit of instruments and drugs and went out there and drove in the service road, and out on the main road and pulled up in front of the cat house, and the animal was inside. So I went inside. Well, since it was such a rare animal, not only was I zoo director there, the head keeper, several curators, but most of the zoo board was there and the president too. They all wanted to see me work on this animal.

00:10:31 - 00:11:20

I went into the public walkway and the snow leopard was sitting near the back of the cage. And he was paralyzed in his back quarters, but could move his front quarters and lift his head and snarl. So I went around the back at service road there, and reached through the bars and grabbed him by the tail and pulled this 125, 140 pound, I don’t know what it was. Cat right up to the bars, gave him a shot, I think of antibiotics. And another one of course, and I thought, well, I gotta do something to get this, whatever he ate through him. So I thought I’ll give him an enema. And I brought a little enema can, which is a little can maybe a little cord of water. And it had a tube running out from a spout in the bottom of it.

00:11:20 - 00:12:14

Something that we used to give enemas to dogs, but it was just too small for this big cat. So I looked around and I noticed that they used high pressure nozzles to clean out the cages, which had small (indistinct) on them. And I thought, okay, I’ll just use this thing to give the enema and greased it up with KY jelly and inserted in the back of the cat. And I told the keeper to turn on the water very slowly. Well, all went well for about a minute and quarter of a minute and a half, something like that. And all of a sudden there was this explosion (chuckles) of the most awful smelling fecal matter you could imagine from out the back of that cat. Just covered me from head to foot. Well, this was also the day that I had to go to the hospital to pick up my wife, and newborn son (chuckles).

00:12:15 - 00:13:00

And I had to be there at 10 o’clock, and it was now quarter to 10. Fortunately the hospital was not far away, but I was a mess. And of course everybody was got a big charge out of me getting covered. All the board members and everybody. But anyway, I went to the back of that cat house and took out my shirt, and washed up as best I could quickly. Remembered I had a grey plastic rain coat in the car. So I went out to the car, got the grey plastic rain coat on, and this hot June day in Cincinnati, and drove over to the hospital. And I’m thinking, well, I can still pull this off, ’cause I’d just go up to the emergency room door and they’ll bring my wife down.

00:13:00 - 00:13:33

But there was a rule at the hospital, that I had to go up to the floor to get her (chuckles). So I did, and I remember the shock look on her face and she says, “What’s the matter?” And I said, don’t say anything (chuckles). Let’s just get outta here. So we left and went home and I got cleaned up for good. But the good thing was that the cat survived, the snow leopard did well. And this was when you were part-time vet- Part-time vet, yeah.

00:13:33 - 00:13:41

And you were part-time veterinarian because the- The guy- They got full-time or they didn’t?

00:13:41 - 00:13:55

No, they didn’t have a full-time. There were only six in the country at that time as I recall. Pat O’Connor, Les Fisher, I forget where else the other ones were, but there weren’t many.

00:13:55 - 00:13:58

So the Cincinnati Zoo approached you to be the part-time vet?

00:13:58 - 00:14:15

No, the guy I worked for was contracted to be a part-time vet at the zoo. And I was working for him, but he didn’t show up for work. So it was up to me. In spite of all that I still was interested in zoo work (chuckles).

00:14:15 - 00:14:20

So did you become kind of the go to guy that they would call, or that you only filled in when he wasn’t?

00:14:20 - 00:14:34

I filled him when he wasn’t, but it got to be that I did just about all the work. If he got a call and he’d send me out, or if they had something that needed to be necropsy they’d bring it over, and I’d do the necropsy on it.

00:14:35 - 00:14:43

Were you able to then communicate with these other part-time veterinarians, or other veterinarians in zoos?

00:14:43 - 00:15:28

Yes. What we did was, I remember coming to Chicago to meet with Les Fisher and I think Pat O’Connor was there. I don’t know if anybody was there at the time, but we decided that we had to communicate with each other so that it would help us in treating these animals. And so when we would get a case that was interesting, we’d write it up and mimeograph it back then and send it out to each other. So we sent packets of case reports out to each other on a routine basis. And if we had a problem, then I’d call Les or Pat Connor or somebody. And I’d say, this is what I’m faced with.

00:15:28 - 00:15:30

What would you do in this situation?

00:15:30 - 00:15:31

What have you done?

00:15:31 - 00:16:22

And that was really the beginning of the zoo veterinary association. So when you were doing this, were you thinking, I want to get out of my dog and cat practice and I want to do full time at the zoo, or were you happy with what you were doing with this part-time. Okay, I was not happy working in some animal practice because it was too routine. Fecal exams, dermatitis, (indistinct) where almost all the surgery we did. Diarrheas and things like that. It just got to be too routine. And I didn’t like the routine nature of it so much. With zoo animal practice, when I came in the morning, I didn’t know whether I’d be working on a python or an ostrich, or a giraffe, or an elephant or whatever.

00:16:22 - 00:16:59

And to me that was challenging. I enjoyed that kind of work. And so you were kind of thinking, I need to figure out how to do this full time. Yes, and I rode zoos around the country for two years in a row. I actually got a call from George Vierheller out to St. Louis Zoo and I went out there and interviewed him. And then he decided at the time that he wasn’t gonna hire a vet. I don’t think he liked vets anyway (laughs). And then I finally got a call back from Crandon Park Zoo in Miami.

00:16:59 - 00:17:34

And they said they were ready to hire veterinarian. So I flew down for an interview and we decided we would move down there. And moving from Cincinnati to Miami, Florida was like moving to a different country. It was quite a change, quite an adjustment, but we really enjoyed it down there. So was it a difficult decision, or the minute they said, we’re interested, we want to hire you. There was no thinking. It wasn’t difficult at all, no. Tell us a little about this zoo that you arrived at.

00:17:34 - 00:17:38

Maybe a little bit of the history, and what was it like when you got there?

00:17:38 - 00:17:43

What were your first impressions of who was the director?

00:17:43 - 00:18:25

Some general impressions. Okay, well, the Crandon Park Zoo is located on Key Biscayne, in the Southern end of Grandon Park. 25 acres of zoo. It started back in 1947 when a traveling road show, animal show, disbanded and they sold their animals to Dade County. Metro-Dade County. There were a couple monkeys, a green monkey, a rhesus monkey, two black bears. There was one other animal there too. But they put up some temporary cages on the beach and kind on park.

00:18:25 - 00:19:04

And then in 1948, they built a causeway across to Key Biscayne. Up until then, the only way you could get over there was by boat. I don’t think they had a ferry even. And they opened a zoo there. Now the first zoo director that they hired, her name was Julie Allen and she eventually married Henry Field. So she was Julie Allen Field. She was a lion tamer in a circus. And so she brought her lion and tiger act to the zoo and built a mound of where she could do her tricks and things.

00:19:04 - 00:19:43

And that was the way Crandon Park Zoo started. And it kind of grew like topsy, it just once they got a little money, they’d add another exhibit. There was no rhyme, no reason the way that it was laid out. But then Julie Allen Field left, I guess under questionable circumstances. And Bob Matlin was hired. And Bob eventually went out to Phoenix as the first director of that zoo when it was built. But Bob was a good guy to work with. And we did fine together, but he was there six months and then he quit and went out to Phoenix.

00:19:43 - 00:20:24

So at the ripe age of 26, I was appointed zoo director. And this was a different ball game. I’d been in private practice. And the method of operation is all together different when you’re in private practice. If you want something, need a instrument or something, you go out and buy it. But with county government, you requisition it, it may or may not get approved, and it may be six months to a year before you get it. And that was one difficult thing. Personnel was another thing.

00:20:24 - 00:20:56

I really didn’t have too much say over the keepers that we hired, as they were sent to us by the parks department, were a division of the parks department. And that was frustrating too. So it took a while for me to adjust to the whole operation out there. Well, now you were hired as a full-time- Full-time veterinarian. Right. You were practicing six months approximately as the veterinarian under the director, and all of a sudden he leaves.

00:20:56 - 00:21:00

Did they automatically say, you’re our guy?

00:21:00 - 00:21:01

Did you apply for it?

00:21:01 - 00:21:03

Was this something you aspired to?

00:21:03 - 00:21:44

How did that- Okay, they automatically said… They came along and said, you’re the man. We had a head keeper at the time Wayne Homan. Wayne eventually went out to Phoenix too with Bob Matlin. And he was good about… I mean, he was really in line to become the director, but the parks department director thought otherwise. But he was good and we worked together fine. So when they come to you and say, you’re the zoo director, is this something you say, oh my or you say, great.

00:21:44 - 00:22:03

Yeah, no. I said, yeah, I’ll do it. I wasn’t really prepared to do it emotionally I guess, at the time. But yeah, I’ll do it. I didn’t jump up and down and yell and scream or anything. But yeah, it was an interesting challenge and I like challenges.

00:22:04 - 00:22:08

And what was your biggest surprise?

00:22:08 - 00:22:48

Was it the bureaucracy that was your biggest surprise, or other things when you first got into the job. The biggest surprise, well, the biggest frustration, I guess, was the bureaucracy. I had never been thrust into a political situation like that before, and it was political for sure. But we got along well. You know, back in those days… The word zoo starts with Z and it’s the letter in the alphabet. And it’s the last thing in the budget. And so to get any money at all for the zoo was really tough.

00:22:49 - 00:23:05

Anything for capital improvements, they’re almost nonexistent. And that was difficult. We had to fight for everything we got (chuckles). Let me ask a question about your time as a veterinarian, the short time.

00:23:05 - 00:23:11

When you were veterinarian, how did the keepers receive you your full time now?

00:23:11 - 00:23:16

How did they receive this new person and what was your relationship with them?

00:23:16 - 00:23:45

Well, the keeper crew was interesting. Of course, back in those days, they were not professional by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of them were farmers and they just simply did their job, and came in at eight o’clock in the morning did their job and left at five, or even a few minutes before if they could get away with it. So there was just somebody else to work for. Really didn’t have too much problem with them.

00:23:45 - 00:23:50

Were there curators at the time running the collection when you started this veterinarian?

00:23:50 - 00:24:33

No, we had one head keep and that was it. We had a bird man who was very good, an older fellow. He had a green thumb when it came to raising waterfowl. And for that reason, the feds sent us a pair of trumpeter swans to set up in a captive breeding situation. The only problem is they sent us a pair of females and that didn’t work out. So we badged the feds for a couple years after that. And finally, they sent us a male and we sent the female back to them. But the trumpeter swan being a big bird and requiring a lot of room to take off.

00:24:33 - 00:25:07

We put them in a pen that was a chain link pen, went out to the water and back along the backside of the water. But we didn’t feather clip them ’cause we knew he couldn’t take off from that pen. But trumpeter swan being a big, powerful bird, he tore a hole in the fence. Worked his way over a couple of exhibits. So there was enough for him to take off. And he took off one afternoon. One Saturday afternoon. Well, we knew we had to notify the feds, but it was a weekend.

00:25:07 - 00:25:43

So we decided we’d wait till Monday ’cause we didn’t know how to get ahold of him. And that evening we found that the trumpeter swan was roosting over in a dump on the other side of Key Biscayne. So we had the bright idea that, okay, we’ll sneak up on him at night. You know, he can’t be very awake at night, and they don’t fly around at night well. We snuck around two AM and we didn’t even get close to him. He took off and flew away. We didn’t hear from him on Sunday. And then Monday we got a call in the morning from a lady in South Miami.

00:25:43 - 00:26:25

She says, “I’ve got this big, beautiful white bird in my backyard “and what is it?” So she described the trumpeter swan perfectly. So we said, don’t do anything, just leave him there. She boarded on a canal. So we could land in the canal and walked up into her backyard. So I took my head keeper and we went down there, pulled into a front yard, and walked into her house and looked out the picture window in the back. And there was our beautiful swan. So we decided what we would do, would each run around the house one side and I’d take the other side, and jump on him before he could take off. And while we were there, he stuck his head under his wing, went to sleep.

00:26:25 - 00:26:55

So we ran around the house and caught him and held him down. So we didn’t have to make that embarrassing call to the feds about their swan getting loose. First thing we did was clip his feathers and we never were successful at breeding him because we really didn’t have enough space to breed swans. We breed a lot of waterfall, lot of ducks and geese, but not swans. Now you mentioned Bob Matlin was director, when you first started this veterinarian.

00:26:55 - 00:26:56

What was your relationship?

00:26:56 - 00:27:31

Did he say do your thing or was he- He was very supportive. Interested. Yeah, do your thing. But he was interested in things, and we talk about different problems. Yeah, he was very good. One of the first problems that we had, and that leads into another interesting story. We got a chimpanzee from West Africa, a young one. And we had her, I think three or four months.

00:27:31 - 00:28:17

We actually would quarantined her. But then we had a couple people come down with hepatitis, and it ended up that five people came down with hepatitis. So we called the CDC and they sent a fellow down two fellows down actually. And anesthetized the chimp and took a biopsy, liver biopsy, and sure enough that’s where the hepatitis had come from. And the five people, the four of them had a very mild case. The fifth one was in the hospital for a couple days, but no lasting effects. But the interesting thing that did come out of that is when they anesthetized that chimpanzee, they used a product called sertraline (chuckles). And sertraline was fantastic.

00:28:17 - 00:29:02

I mean, you could give a shot intramuscularly. There was no excitement period. They just simply got sleepy and laid down, went to sleep. The one thing we did notice is that they would do a little yelling and screaming now and then while they were under. Well, sertraline had been a drug that had been experimented within people and prisoners, and they found it was hallucinogenic. So they stopped using it on people, but Parke Davis kept producing it. And we used it in zoo work, and we got all the sertraline that we could use to experiment on animals. And we used it over a thousand times, and never had a death from it.

00:29:02 - 00:29:44

Never had any problems with it. And we used it on everything from big cats to primates. We even used it on hoofstock crocodile. It was wonderful for crocodile. Never had any problems with it. But of course, sertraline is PCP angel dust, and became a controlled substance and they finally stopped making it. But it was one of the best anesthetic agents that we ever had to use in zoo animal medicine. They put a derivative called ketamine on the market and it was all right, but not like sertraline.

00:29:44 - 00:29:50

It was good. We used it up until the time I retired.

00:29:50 - 00:29:53

How were you administering these drugs?

00:29:53 - 00:30:39

Intramuscularly. And that was the beautiful thing about it. ‘Cause the only way you could give it to some of these animals was with a capture gun and the projectile syringe. And the capture gun of course was developed by chemist by the name of Red Palmer in Georgia. And we got one that was in the mid 1950s. We got one of his first ones probably around 1960, 61. Just about the time I got to the zoo. Was a unique device, ’cause it was just more than a air pistol that had an enlarged bore barrel put on the top of it.

00:30:39 - 00:31:42

And it fired a projectile syringe, which was an aluminum tube thread on each end. Had a needle on it, screwed on one end and the size of the needle depending on what kind of animal you’re gonna use it on. And then on the middle we put a rubber plunger, and there was a little powder charge slipped in the rubber plunger. And then we screwed a TL piece on that. So the theory was that when the thing hit the animal that the hammer in the powder charge would overcome the spring that held it back and it would hit the powder and explode, and inject whatever was in front of it, into the animal. This worked pretty well except sometimes it’d blow the end off the syringe, and it’d come flying back past my head. So they started making the syringes outta heavier material. The first syringes they made, they used a chemical reaction and it just didn’t inject fast enough.

00:31:42 - 00:32:35

If you shot a chimpanzee, for instance, with it, the chimpanzee would rip it out, and throw it back at you before the thing even discharged. But with the powder charge, it got the dose right now and it worked well, and we used it on a few escaped animals (laughs). So you were really on the pioneering end of using this delivery system for animals. Yeah, we were. And sertraline, ketamine were the drugs of choice that we used. They had experimented with the paralytic agents like succinylcholine, even nicotine sulfate before that. But the problem with them is that the dose varied from animal to animal, from situation to situation. You could inject an animal in the morning and in the afternoon it would take half the dose, or maybe twice a dose.

00:32:35 - 00:33:05

And so you just kept injecting until you got the right dose. And there were a lot of deaths with it. It just didn’t work out that well. And of course the animals were paralyzed. They could still feel all the pain, they just couldn’t react to it. So it was not a satisfactory method to use anesthetic agents. We didn’t have any intramuscular agents up until thiamine came along. ‘Cause what we were using barbiturates and they had to be injected intravenously.

00:33:07 - 00:33:17

If you injected intramuscularly, they caused too much tissue damage. So now you are a new zoo director, looking for a challenge.

00:33:17 - 00:33:20

And what was your day like?

00:33:20 - 00:33:22

Were you still the veterinarian?

00:33:22 - 00:34:01

Yeah, in the first year I worked 364 days (chuckles). It tells you what my life was like. And we did manage to start taking a couple weeks off now to go to Sanabei Island. But it was work all the time. Fortunately, we lived about a half a mile from the zoo. I either walked there or rode my bike there. Rode my bike there, but it got to be embarrassing. Sometimes people would stop and ask me if I wanted a ride, if I was walking or even if I was riding a bike.

00:34:01 - 00:34:54

And my neighbors all felt sorry for me, I guess, but it was a good exercise. And what surprised you about the job as you were doing that on a day-to-day basis. Oh, nothing really surprised me. I mean every day was a kind of a surprise ’cause I never knew what animal I’d be working on. But nothing too surprising there, I guess. I’ve always believed in a lot of public relations things. I always kept a collection of small animals to take out to schools, and we had the children’s zoo and we had animals there. Tame animals that we let the kids touch.

00:34:59 - 00:35:48

Well, way back in Cincinnati, for instance, we got a call from a local station, a local TV station. That was the educational TV station. And they wanted somebody representing the zoo to bring an animal out for their children’s program. So they called my boss and he said, “Well you do it.” And so I said, okay fine. So at the time we had a few skulls of animals and I thought, okay, I’ll take these skulls out and we’ll show them to the kids. Let them touch the teeth, tell them how they chew, and what they feed on, and all that. And so it was a half hour live show, and I went to the studio and there was a lady moderator there. And it went real well.

00:35:48 - 00:36:41

The kids were… Young kids that age are a joy to work with. They would ask all kinds of questions, and everything was ooh and on about, oh this eats that or look at the teeth on that. Well, after the show, the station manager came down and he said, “Hey, you did so well, I’d like you to come back next week.” So I said, okay, reptiles have kind of been an interest of mine, a hobby of mine. And I knew the guy who was a reptile curator at the Cincinnati Zoo. And I felt I could be easy enough to borrow some reptiles and bring them to the show. And the lady moderator said fine, that’d be fine. So the next week I went to the zoo and I picked up some animals.

00:36:41 - 00:36:57

I had a small crocodile, couple lizards, a couple of snakes, a turtle. And went into the station and walked into the room. and there were no kids.

00:36:58 - 00:37:02

And I said to the lady moderator, what happened?

00:37:02 - 00:37:45

She said, well, we couldn’t get the bus to bring them out today. I said, oh my gosh. You know, I know something about reptiles, but I haven’t studied about these individual animals. I was relying on the kids to touch them and see that the turtle had a hard shell, and the snake skin was smooth and dry. And I said, you’re gonna have to do that then for the kids so we can carry on a conversation. She said, fine. Well, I opened the first bag and pulled out a six foot boa and she let out a scream and went running outta the studio. So I had a half hour show to do by myself, that I was not prepared to do.

00:37:45 - 00:37:57

And it was a disaster. But in spite of that, I still later on kept doing them anyway (chuckles). Oh my, that was my introduction to doing live animal shows.

00:37:57 - 00:38:02

And were you doing things like this in Miami when you were director?

00:38:02 - 00:38:19

Oh yeah, we did a lot. In fact, I was doing two regular children’s television shows weekly shows at the same time. And then did annual shows for the Ottoman society, all using live animals, all on television.

00:38:20 - 00:38:26

Now, did you have a vision of what education would be like at the zoo when you took over?

00:38:26 - 00:39:14

Well, I felt that education was the main thing for zoos. Sure, they were entertaining, and sure some of the bigger zoos could do research. Conservation, yeah. But back in those days, conservation wasn’t a big topic in zoos because animals were readily available. If lion died you just ordered another one. There were animal dealers in this country that could supply them, and there was just no problem getting animals. And I knew all the animal dealers in Miami being a major point of entry. We had animals readily available to us, and I got to go down and pick what I wanted actually.

00:39:15 - 00:39:55

So there was no problem getting animals for the zoo. And we didn’t really think about education or about conservation. Education, yeah. I’ve always felt strongly about that. And we did develop an education curator position, and had him go out to the schools. I had been doing it up until that time, and take live animals out there and talk about them. So education has always been my main focus, I guess, in zoos. Let me follow up on a couple of things.

00:39:55 - 00:39:58

Were you able… You said you hired an education curator.

00:39:58 - 00:40:07

When you came in, were you able to hire other curators or people that would assist you other than a senior or a zoo manager?

00:40:07 - 00:40:42

The zoo was small. Back then it was 25 acres, and we didn’t have that many animals. Now we did increase the collection and increase the exhibits. So it got to the point where we did have to hire a education curator. And we developed a curator, mammals curator, birds. They were not PhDs or anything in zoology, but they were management people, that could manage animal collections. You mentioned animal dealers and Florida was a hub of animal dealers.

00:40:42 - 00:40:44

Can you talk a little more about that?

00:40:44 - 00:40:50

I mean, who were some of the names that you had to deal with and how did they operate?

00:40:50 - 00:41:23

And you were right at the epicenter. Yeah, Bill Chase was the first one that we dealt with. Charles B. Chase was the name, but he went by Bill. Bill did mainly zoo animals. And was a good honest person to deal with. I liked him very much. And I think his company was called Charles B. Chase. But then we had the pet farm, which was Norman Crowley.

00:41:23 - 00:41:51

And they did mainly importation of animals for pets. Ralph Curtiss worked for him for a while. And then Ralph went off on his own. He couldn’t stand the pet trade part of it. And we dealt with Ralph. Ralph was a very honest, very good person. He really took care of his animals. But the pet part of it, oh my god, it was awful.

00:41:51 - 00:42:25

I’d go down there at times when they import a couple thousand monkeys, and a thousand would be dead. It was just… Really it was depressing. And one of the things that got AAZPA and the endangered species mode was the orangutans problem. And I saw orangutans come in there. And again, you get three or four orangutans, half of them would be dead. And the others who would die within a few weeks. And we finally in the zoo profession said that’s enough.

00:42:26 - 00:43:10

We shouldn’t be bringing these animals in for pets, and maybe not even for zoos anymore because we could breed them in zoos. But especially the pet trade. And we developed our own restricted list, our own endangered species list back in 1962. And the orangutans was the first thing on that list. And we asked the federal government, if they would develop an endangered species list and institute regulations to control the importation mistake. Don’t ever get to federal government involved in anything, ’cause they’re gonna screw it up. And they did. They really messed this up.

00:43:10 - 00:43:36

We went after them for 11 years, to pass an endangered species act. Finally in 1973, they passed it. And the way it was written, it would’ve put almost every zoo in the country out of business. They listed endangered species. And I swear they must have had kids right outta high school, to write up these lists. But things like tigers, for instance. Tigers were common in zoos. Sure, they were diminishing in the wild.

00:43:36 - 00:44:12

But the way the endangered species act was written, we could not move a tiger. We could not sell or send off on a breeding loan captive bred tigers to other zoos. If we had an old tiger was dying, we couldn’t euthanize it, without a permit from the federal government. The permits back then took an average of nine months to get. Any place from six months to a year, I guess. But nine months, well. Nine months is suffering for an animal that’s old. I mean, that’s ridiculous.

00:44:12 - 00:45:23

And of course the cubs in nine months were pretty good size. So it was unworkable, and the AAZPA and their wisdom hired George Steele, who was a lobbyist. Worked for (indistinct) and also an attorney. And he was stationed in Washington. And he worked with the feds and it took two years to get that straightened out so that we indeed could send the captive bred, endangered species off to other zoos, not to private breeders or as pets or anything like that. But it changed the whole philosophy in the zoo world. Because now we realized that we had to start breeding these animals and not rely on them being caught in the wild and imported for us. And that’s when we got into the captive breeding programs and geez, we did everything eventually in the embryo transfers, and artificial insemination and everything.

00:45:24 - 00:46:11

And eventually we did such a good job of it. We didn’t know what to do with all the surplus animals. So when I left the zoo field, 22 years ago, half of our animals were on some kind of birth control. Either they were all male herds, or we kept the males, female separate, or we implanted hormone in some of the animals stopping from cycling. But we had to do something. We didn’t know what to do with all the animals. Now you’d indicated that you hired an education curator. Were you able to hire a veterinarian to replace you and- We did.

00:46:11 - 00:46:55

Yeah, I had been zoo director and veterinarian for three years and then we hired another fellow as the zoo veterinarian. And that took a lot of burden off me, although I was being cut off from what I really liked to do and into the political part of it still it had to be done. He was with us, three or four years. And finally he went down to Venezuela to work a private animal farm down there. Wild animal farm. And once he got down there, he was there for a couple years and wanted to leave. They wouldn’t let him leave. And he was essentially held captive in Venezuela.

00:46:55 - 00:47:27

His wife and kids were able to come back, but he snuck out of there in the of dead night one time and made it back to this country. But, (chuckles) he had a wild time down there. Now we were talking about tranquilizers and doses and so forth. And you were on the cutting edge. Can you tell us the story about the gorilla named Colonel. That’s a chimpanzee. Oh a chimpanzee. And the Jaguar.

00:47:27 - 00:47:52

And the Jaguar. Colonel was a chimpanzee that somebody raised as a pet. And so he was totally screwed up psychologically. We’d try introducing females with him and he was just scared to death of them. And he’d run and hide, and scream and all that. But he was a big animal. Weighed 146 pounds. That’s a huge male.

00:47:53 - 00:48:33

And, (chuckles) one day I was sitting in the office and our head keeper came running into the office this Friday afternoon. He said, “Colonel’s out.” And it took a few minutes for me to figure out what Colonel was. And then I realized it was a big male chimp. So I said, okay, you watch him see where he goes, and I’ll get the capture equipment ready. And we’ll see where we can catch him. Well, at the time we had the other full-time vet and he was off that day. So I didn’t know where he kept all the equipment. I went in there and fumbled around, found the darts, the syringes and the drugs.

00:48:33 - 00:49:17

And by that time we were using ketamine. We weren’t using sertraline. I wasn’t familiar with it. So I did a quick brush up on dosages, and I loaded up three darts figuring I could miss him a couple times, but the third time I better get him (chuckles). So I got into zoo station wagon, and I asked the head keeper where he’d been. He said he went over to the front gate, and he was sitting up on top of the stanchion of the gate, a seven foot high fence. So I drove over there and I drove off so that the driver’s side of the station wagon was facing him, but I hid the capture gun. ‘Cause I knew the minute he saw that he’s gonna take off and run.

00:49:17 - 00:49:44

So we did a stair off for a few minutes. He was trying to figure out what I was doing there. And I was trying to figure out how I get a shot at him. So finally I told my head keeper to go over in the parking lot. Behind him, well, not directly behind him, but off to the side and yell at him. See if he could get him to look that way. But don’t get behind him, ’cause I didn’t want to hurt hit with the dart. So he did and Colonel snapped his head around, looked to see what was going on over there.

00:49:44 - 00:50:14

And I shot him and hit him right in the thigh. And he of course pulled the syringe out immediately and threw it back at me. But he didn’t run. He stayed up there, which surprised me. And after three or four minutes, he started getting a little groggy, and it was a call. A small (indistinct) palm that was right next to the fence. And he grabbed a hold of that thing and twirled on down to the bottom of the ground easily. So we picked him up, and put him in the back of the station wagon.

00:50:14 - 00:50:21

And I drove back over to the exhibit. In the meantime, our secretary had gotten a hold of our vet, our full-time vet.

00:50:21 - 00:50:24

And he came out, met me at the exhibit and he said, “What happened?

00:50:24 - 00:50:29

“I thought somebody apparently left a lock off, “or he broke it, I don’t know which.

00:50:30 - 00:50:33

“What did you use?” And I told him how much?

00:50:33 - 00:51:18

And he told me… He says, “Oh my gosh.” He says, “That’s not enough.” So we turned around and looking here was Colonel sitting up in the back of the station wagon (chuckles) looking around, trying to see what was going on. So we made the decision that he was probably still groggy enough that he wasn’t gonna come after us. So we opened up the cage door, we opened up the back of the station wagon each grabbed an arm and kind of threw him up into the cage. And he got up and walked around, kind of nonchalant at least, still pretty tranquil from the effects of the ketamine. But at least he didn’t go after us. And of course we made sure the thing was locked up after that. One day Colonel was in the back and…

00:51:18 - 00:51:51

He’s a big, powerful animal. And he could open those night house doors, if he wanted to. He’d break them open. One day, we had a painter in there painting, and he flung open the door and came walking by the painter. And of course he scared the daylights outta the painter, but he walked past him into the next cage, and we locked him up. Also one day we had jaguars over there, and we had a Jaguar that he got into the cage with that. But they didn’t interact. They were fine.

00:51:51 - 00:52:25

We got them separated. But those were the days where the old cage type exhibits and the totally unsatisfactory way of keeping animals. The only thing I’d say about those days, is they got people interested in animals. And if you’re gonna get people interested in conserving animals, you gotta get them interested in product first. And that would be the animal itself. And so they were successful in that way. But captive breeding was not a big program back in those days. And it was mainly just educational experience, I guess.

00:52:25 - 00:52:32

Did you ever consider, or did you ever use regular medical doctors or hospitals to help you?

00:52:32 - 00:53:30

We did if we had a primate, and then we were also called upon ones too, with a kidney transplant. One of the first kidney transplants that was done, they used two baboons to transplant the kidneys into young a boy. And I was responsible for anesthetizing the baboons, and then they took the kidneys out. But we did call physicians in. In fact the medical examiner down was a good friend of mine. If we had an animal die, that we were really puzzled by what caused the death, I’d take it down to him. And it was a good break in his day, and he loved necropsing into the animals. But if we had a primate that had a problem, we quite often would call a medical doctor, and they were very good about coming and helping us.

00:53:30 - 00:54:04

And as our collection grew and we got more big apes, gorillas for instance. At the new zoo, we would anesthetize them once a year to give them a physical exam. And we always had a team of doctors there do the exam. EKG and examine them from head to foot. And it was a good break in their day, and it was a good help for us. So we worked together well. Just to remind you to incorporate his question with your answer. Yeah.

00:54:04 - 00:54:09

What was- What would you say was the favorite part of your job being director?

00:54:11 - 00:55:07

The favorite part of my job as director, I guess over the years was the planning and developing a new zoo. One that had natural habitat. It was a long process, a very frustrating process. And eventually I think that the product, the new zoo was a very nice thing, but it sure wasn’t an easy thing to do. And I guess that would be the best thing. It was always fun to give lectures to kids and see their reaction. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of taking a kid to zoo for the first time, and seeing his reaction. It’s interesting, boy, they just…

00:55:07 - 00:55:37

They can’t believe it, you know. Their eyes pop up, and say, oh, well, this is wonderful. And that’s a very rewarding experience. What type of… When you first became a director, were there certain things that you thought, I’m gonna try and implement here, projects for exhibits. This is before you moved.

00:55:37 - 00:55:40

Were there things that were non zoo director?

00:55:42 - 00:56:18

I wanna do these. Well we wanted to build natural habitat exhibits for one thing. And we did do one mode exhibit, an elephant exhibit. And the mode was actually the natural ground water because we were only a few feet above sea level there in Crandon Park Zoo. And it worked out well. We built an elephant night house, that consisted of very, very heavy steel bars spaced so that a person could run between them if you had to get away from an elephant. And they worked out very, very well. It was a very nice exhibit.

00:56:19 - 00:57:15

We built a couple other, I guess you’d call them pit type exhibits for things like aardvark, for instance. Peccaries, small animals like that. And they worked out well, but I wanted to develop a professional staff. And so we tried that as best we could with the funds we had and the personnel we had. We did have some good people there, and they fell into those roles. But as far as having say, a teacher as our education director, we just couldn’t afford it. And we didn’t, but we had somebody that did a good job anyway. Was willing to learn as much as he could about animals and take them out and handle them and show them to the kids.

00:57:16 - 00:57:18

What’d you love about being zoo director?

00:57:20 - 00:58:03

Well, one of the things I enjoyed most, I guess, about being a zoo director was getting to know other people in the zoo field. Marlin Perkins, the Bill Conways, whatever. Those people had just been kind of legends up until the time got a chance to meet them and visit with them. And it was fun getting to know them, and seeing their ideas and their outlooks on things. Because you mentioned him, what type of person was Marlin. What kind of outlook did he and Bill Conway.

00:58:03 - 00:58:08

What was their outlook on the zoo field, or did it stress certain things?

00:58:08 - 00:59:17

Well, Marlin was kind of a hero of mine ’cause of a zoo parade thing. And I had visions of being something like that one day until I had that disaster television show in Cincinnati. And that kind of tame me down a bit. But he was laid back very sweet guy to work with. I’d say Bill Conway was aloof friendly enough, but maybe not the easiest person to get to know. Did they impart philosophies to you that you kind of gleaned from them or- Well- Yeah, of course Bill Conway was full of philosophies and particular ones I can’t remember except the natural habitat themes, and the things like their exhibit at night animals. And things like that they were always intriguing. And I guess all their they’re talking together kind of melded into one big philosophy.

00:59:17 - 00:59:22

Were there certain zoo directors that you sought advice from?

00:59:22 - 00:59:57

Yes, Len Goss was one. Being veterinarian and then the director of then Cleveland zoo. Len was a nice guy, I liked him. And yes, he was one that I contacted. Warren Thomas was a character. Occasionally I’d talk to him, but (chuckles) he was a character. As far as other people, I can’t recall. I talked to different people at different times.

00:59:58 - 00:59:58

Yeah.

00:59:58 - 01:00:01

That Warren was a classmate of yours?

01:00:01 - 01:00:39

Warren Thomas was a classmate of mine. He actually got part of a veterinary degree, I guess, in Peru. And then got accepted to Ohio state. And he was in my class, yeah. He was an interesting guy. When I first talked to Warren Thomas, I’d ask him a question about an exotic animal and he’d always have an answer. Well, after about a year of this, I began to realize that some of his answers weren’t right (laughs). And I started researching and studying these things and then called him on some of this stuff.

01:00:39 - 01:01:03

But he was a interesting guy to work with. He went to Brownsville, Texas, as a director there. I remember he had one horrible experience there. He used LSD on an elephant. The elephant went crazy, killed himself. But he was Warren Thomas. That was the thing he would do. Crazy things like that.

01:01:07 - 01:01:09

You mentioned the elephant house that you put together.

01:01:10 - 01:01:14

Did you do anything with small mammals, or the Africa wild scene?

01:01:14 - 01:01:17

What were you trying to do there?

01:01:17 - 01:01:51

With the African… Well, the small animals, the African exhibit area we had porcupines, big crested porcupines. Aardvark. Aardvark were interesting. We came in one day in 1967, September 67. And we found this baby aardvark in the exhibit. And so we didn’t know what to do. And we tried looking at literature, and there’d never been one born and hand raised in captivity before.

01:01:52 - 01:02:50

So I’ll have to give our veterinarian at the time, Ron Samson all the credit. ‘Cause he developed a formula using (indistinct) which was a formula use for big cats primarily. And he adjusted it as he thought need be and hand raised this aardvark. And we went way out on a limb and announced that the aardvark had been born and all the news media came out, and oh my (chuckle) have we made a mistake here, because that thing could die in a few days. And we didn’t know whether we’d done the right thing, but fortunately everything went well. We had a county wide contest to name the aardvark and things like that. And gave us a lot of publicity. We got other aardvark then after that, we had I think total of 17 aardvark born, yeah.

01:02:50 - 01:03:17

Did that first public relations surprise you the amount. No, we knew a strange looking animal. If it it’d been a mouse or something we would’ve never gotten it. But it was such a strange looking animal, and an animal that’s one species representing an entire order. So I guess we weren’t surprised by the whole thing. But it worked out well. Thank goodness.

01:03:18 - 01:03:20

How was the zoo funded?

01:03:20 - 01:03:24

Was it just a public zoo that was funded by the parks department?

01:03:24 - 01:03:27

Or how did that work?

01:03:27 - 01:04:04

Okay, the zoo was funded by the county. It was a county zoo. We occasionally got a little help from the zoological society, if we needed money for an animal. For instance, we got an Indian rhino, and they paid to have it transported. And paid whatever costs were necessary. And more of our zoological society board members was actually the one that got the Indian rhino forest. He was also the one that got the white tiger forest too. Ours was the second white tiger in zoo in this country.

01:04:05 - 01:04:21

And so we did get a little help from our zoological society, but not a whole lot. But I always felt that the future of the zoo depended upon the zoological society. How well they could develop it, and whether they could eventually take over management of the zoo.

01:04:23 - 01:04:27

Was the zoo society there, when you started this veterinarian?

01:04:27 - 01:05:06

The zoo society was there when I started and it had monthly meetings. And I think they had been in existence for four or five years before I got there. We tried to change the character of the board so that we would have a few prominent politicians on there. A few prominent scientists, a couple millionaires. And so we could begin to get things done and that it took a while to get the character of the zoology society board changed so that we could eventually get into developing a new zoo.

01:05:08 - 01:05:13

What was your part in trying to change the character?

01:05:13 - 01:05:17

Did you have a role to play or was it beyond you?

01:05:17 - 01:06:19

No, I was on the zoological society board and the people were good friends. And when their terms expired or whatever, I would urge them to put certain people on the board. And I think that they were professional enough to realize what we had to get done, as far as the makeup of the board goes. We’d been talking about a new zoo since Hurricane Betsy came through there in 1965, and put three feet of water over the zoo killed 250 animals. We knew we had to move the zoo inland. And so we talked about it for five years, and in the meantime, we tried to get our board straightened out, so they could put more pressure on our politicians. And 1970, they passed what they call a decade of progress bond issue in Metro-Dean County. And they put a part of it in the parks department.

01:06:19 - 01:06:48

$10 million for a new zoo. Well, this was later reduced $8 million (chuckles). But we did get $8 million for a new zoo. I convinced the zoological society board to hire T.A. Strawser as our zoo designer. I had known Terry Strawser since I worked at the Columbus Zoo. He was originally from Columbus. A commercial artist, very good artist. He was a keeper there.

01:06:48 - 01:07:24

And then he eventually became curator of birds. And so he had zoo experience. Had, I dunno, six, seven years zoo experience. But being a good artist, he decided he would get out of the zoo field. He moved to San Diego and started doing art shows all around the country. Well, he would come to Miami and maybe once every two years. And we would talk about new zoo, and how we would design it if we could. So when the time came to hire a zoo designer, to me he was a natural.

01:07:24 - 01:08:09

And the zoological society hired him for nine months. His goal was to develop a master plan. I worked with him. And to build a model,. Was seven feet square, as I recall, of the zoo. And he finished this in nine months, and we presented this before the county commission, And of course he did renderings of the exhibits, and it passed the commission’s approval. And then he was hired back again, the following January as our permanent zoo designer. And we got an opportunity to work together again, developing the zoo.

01:08:12 - 01:08:43

And the county hired a firm. They wanted to hire an architectural firm, to design a new zoo. We said, no. We’re the designers. What we need is an engineering firm to make it work. And they did listen to us, and we did hire an engineering firm, not the one that Strawser and I had wanted. But then I think there was probably political reasons, or maybe financial reasons why this other firm was hired. I don’t know.

01:08:45 - 01:09:13

And their engineer that worked with us, was a really nice guy, really sharp guy. And he and I, and Strawser took a trip around the United States to visit nine different zoos. One in Canada actually, Toronto Zoo. And we took our plans with us, and we sat down with the zoo directors or the designers and said, this is what we got planned.

01:09:13 - 01:09:13

What do you think?

01:09:13 - 01:09:14

You think these will work?

01:09:14 - 01:09:16

What are our problems?

01:09:16 - 01:10:08

And I’d have to say that everybody was very helpful. San Diego, Los Angeles, I’m trying to remember Milwaukee, I think St. Louis, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Bronx Zoo, Toronto Zoo. Toronto was an absolute disaster. That was a new zoo, had just opened. I don’t know who designed that zoo, but they really didn’t know what they were doing. They had a lion exhibit that the lions jumped out of. They had an elephant exhibit, that I’m surprised nobody was killed, and the elephants were housed in solid concrete wall pens. So that if you got in that pen in front of an elephant, there was no way of escaping.

01:10:08 - 01:10:45

And he could crush against the wall, or against the floor or whatever. And it was just a disaster waiting to happen. We were horrified when we saw it, we told him. They must have changed him since the (indistinct). ‘Cause I haven’t heard of anybody gotten killed up there but it was amazing. And we came back with some really wonderful ideas. We also took one of our African Safari’s. We took the zoo designer with us, to look at habitat since we were gonna develop the African habitat as one of the first areas, Asia and Africa together.

01:10:46 - 01:11:03

And I think that all gave us a new perspective on things too. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about those particular subjects. But let me go back to the zoo society for a minute. You mentioned a white tiger, and you mentioned rhinoceros, Indian rhinoceros.

01:11:05 - 01:11:13

Was that animals that you as you’re director were soliciting an interest in or did they just arrive in your doorstep?

01:11:13 - 01:11:51

Oh no. We solicited an interest in them. Actually this millionaire, Ralph Scott was very active in the zoo society and with the zoo. Had mentioned that he might be able to get these animals. And we said, sure by all means. And of course then the white tiger was the first thing he got and that brought us all kinds of publicity. The tiger unfortunately died suddenly two years after we had gotten it. It fed in the afternoon, the next morning we came in, it was dead.

01:11:51 - 01:12:37

So that was when I did take on the medical examiner and we looked through it and sent tissues off the CDC and they finally decided it died from a distemper virus. But it just very suddenly overcame it and killed it. It had been vaccinated, so it was a puzzle. But when he mentioned Indian rhinos, of course we had black rhinos, and we were very interested in Indian rhinos. We knew there endangered status and we felt it was important to get new blood into this country somehow, and eventually made him up with a female. And we did get this male very nice animal.

01:12:38 - 01:12:42

Did you make daily rounds as zoo director?

01:12:42 - 01:13:06

I made daily rounds to all exhibits and talked to as many of the keepers as I could find. And I tried to keep track of everything that was going on. I think it’s important that if you’re gonna manage something, you gotta get out there and see what’s going on. Yeah.

01:13:06 - 01:13:09

How would you describe your management style?

01:13:11 - 01:14:01

Well, I think there are two basic ways of managing an institution or managing a group of people. One is to be a good old boy, be a friend with all of them and slap them on the back and go out drinking with them, and whatever. The other one is to not socialize with them and maybe only at a yearly party or something. But be a bit apart from… And that was really my way of doing it. Not that I tried to be aloof or anything, but just they weren’t a part of my life. I’ll put it that way. Whereas I had an instructor in veterinary college once who was one of these guys that was everybody’s buddy and it just didn’t work out too well.

01:14:01 - 01:14:11

And so I saw that wasn’t working and I think maybe it’s a little better if you’re a little bit separated from the employees you work with.

01:14:13 - 01:14:17

How involved was your family in your profession?

01:14:17 - 01:15:19

Well, my family was involved in one way in that the animals I brought home to bottle raise for instance, like a lion, and a tiger, and cheetah, puma. We had a marmoset. One of the problems I faced, veterinary problems I faced was a gelada baboon that we had gotten a pair of them. They’d been there I think five years, had never bred, but the female started getting a big belly on her and we thought maybe she was pregnant. But she started laying around on the cage on her back and pushing her feet against the wall. And obviously in some discomfort, she did this for a couple days, and I thought she’s gotta be in labor and having problems delivering. So we anesthetize her and delivered her baby. It a was healthy baby.

01:15:19 - 01:15:53

And then sewed her back up, put her back in the exhibit again with the male. But we took the baby home and hand raise it. And our kids especially were involved with hand raising it. They named it David Crockett (chuckles). I guess, partly because of the funny way the hair stood up on the top of the head. But they were involved in taking care of some of the animals and they were very good at it. And of course all the neighborhood kids could come over and see them. So they were involved in that way.

01:15:53 - 01:16:22

And then almost every evening we rode our bikes and we were so close to zoo. We just ride off to the zoo, ride around the zoo at night. That gave me another way to look at the animals out there. And of course there were little lakes and ponds all through the zoo. And so I used to fish out there too. Get some big fish in those lakes (laughs). Now you mentioned the Hurricane Betsy in 1965. Yeah.

01:16:24 - 01:16:26

What happened?

01:16:26 - 01:17:32

1965, that was an interesting experience because I had a gallbladder attack in the summer of 1965 in fact two of them. And I went to see my physician and he said that… They did some tests and he said, “You’ve got gall bladder disease “and you’re gonna have to have it taken out.” So I had the surgery, but unfortunately I had it done the old fashioned way with a big incision across my belly. You know, they’d reach in and pluck it out, and tie it off and cut it out. But unfortunately, Hurricane Betsy was coming at us from the Atlantic. Now she was coming north of the Bahamas and usually those hurricanes curb around to the north and the Gulf stream, which flows past Miami, usually carries them back up north. So we weren’t really too concerned about it. But towards the end of the week, we could see it was coming at Miami.

01:17:33 - 01:18:24

So my wife got the kids together and the dog, and she went into town and got a motel room. And then the thing curved north. So she packed up the kids, went back home again, and that afternoon, the thing turned around and came back south. So it came right square through Miami. And she was unfortunate, got another motel room. But we were in the top floor, the surgical ward of Cedars Hospital, and boy, the building shook so badly that the nurses got frightened, went downstairs and left all the surgical patients up there alone. We were pushed out into the hallway. So we’d be away from the windows in case the glass started flying.

01:18:25 - 01:19:17

But then the next day they came and got us. Now that storm also broke loose, a barge that broke one of the bridges out at Key Biscayne so we couldn’t get home. Couldn’t get to the zoo. The army corps engineers came in and built a temporary bridge, a Bailey bridge across that span that was missing. And they let us out there. Of course, we lived out there, and then we found that we could find the watermarks in the buildings where it’d come up three feet over the walkways. And they made a mistake when they evacuated the zoo, bagging all the reptiles, but leaving them on the floor of the reptile building. And they were all drowned, and we lost a few big animals.

01:19:17 - 01:19:33

But mainly they were small and mainly reptiles. And then we had to regroup and get everything cleaned up. And that was really what started us seriously thinking about building a new zoo away from the ocean.

01:19:34 - 01:19:45

Did you have a hurricane plan before this occurred or emergency plan for fire and different things and were hurricanes part of it?

01:19:45 - 01:20:10

Yes. We had an emergency plan for… We really wouldn’t have any fires out there. Everything was kind of isolated. But for hurricanes, yes. We had a plan. We went through who did what when, and where we went, and we listened to the different hurricane alerts. So we could tell how much time we had left to get things organized.

01:20:12 - 01:20:21

And afterward, were there adjustments to the plan, as you looked at the devastation and what had occurred?

01:20:22 - 01:21:02

The only adjustments we made to that plan after the Hurricane Betsy was we didn’t put the reptiles on the floor anymore. We put them up in the exhibits. We bagged them all. We only had a few poisonous snakes ’cause I really didn’t like keeping poisonous snakes. We just didn’t have the antivenom in there to treat people. But we had the Miami Serpentarium and Bill Haast right down the street from us. I didn’t feel comfortable keeping poisoning the snakes. I think you really have to have specialized people and specialized exhibits to keep things like that.

01:21:02 - 01:21:37

That are that dangerous. And did other zoos… You lost a number of animals. We lost a lot of animals during that hurricane and the other zoos, some of them offered to keep some of the animals. And it seems like we did ship some of them out to other zoos. Everybody was concerned. We got a lot of calls from different people and wanting to know how things were going. What was the…

01:21:37 - 01:21:55

So in the aftermath, you lost animals. Were your thoughts, let’s build a new zoo. Were your thoughts we need to replace the zoo, was the city government coming to your assistance to say, okay, we have to rebuild and we’ll do it right here.

01:21:55 - 01:21:57

How do those things start to evolve?

01:21:58 - 01:22:51

After the Hurricane Betsy problem, we knew we had to refurbish the zoo as best we could without getting into a lot of big expense. And we knew we had to build a new zoo. One thing the county did was they instituted an admission charge to the zoo, to build up a reserve for funds. Up until that time it had been a free zoo. We averaged over a million people a year in that zoo. (indistinct) it instigated mission why it went down a bit, I think 800,000 or something. But there was still enough money coming in, that they could provide us with more money for doing what we had to fix the zoo up. But our goal, our focus was to develop a new zoo.

01:22:53 - 01:22:58

Were the animal dealers helpful?

01:22:58 - 01:23:29

Were you looking to replenish your specimens. The animal dealers after the hurricane, I wouldn’t say that they donated animals to us or anything like that. They helped us in securing what animals we needed, but mainly again, they were reptiles, ’cause the male did pretty well. There was a couple mammals that we lost. I can’t remember what species they were right off hand.

01:23:30 - 01:23:35

Did you notice any behavioral differences with the animals after the hurricane?

01:23:35 - 01:23:44

We didn’t notice any behavioral differences with the animals after the hurricane. No. Things went pretty well back to normal again.

01:23:44 - 01:23:46

How long did it take to reopen the zoo after this devastation?

01:23:48 - 01:24:27

It probably took us two weeks to reopen the zoo again. And then of course all exhibits weren’t there, but there’s construction out there, was basically chain link fences, concrete buildings with outside exhibits so that water didn’t hurt them at all. Few trees fell down, maybe tore down a fence here or there, but that was easily rebuilt and replaced. So we were able to get things back together, fairly rapidly after the storm.

01:24:27 - 01:24:30

Was there any major hurdles in doing this?

01:24:31 - 01:25:29

I wouldn’t say there were any major hurdles in getting the zoo opened. The major hurdle of course, was trying to get a new zoo built. And that was an interesting proposition. That is a lot complicated experience. Playing the political game again, we knew that we should get the designer from the (indistinct) department involved in our design, whether we paid any attention to him or not, at least say, that he had input (laughs). And he was a strange guy. Fred Boragair was his name. So we made arrangements with Disney, to tour Disney World before it was open, while they were still developing it.

01:25:29 - 01:26:37

And we took Fred with us up there, and were able to go through the haunted house, a lot of the attractions. And they showed us behind the scenes, how everything worked. I mean, it was quite a fantastic trip. We knew a guy that was one of the designers up there. And so he got us into these different areas and we presented the master plan we had finally to the parks department, to the whole personnel. Well, Fred, all of a sudden from being a friend and helpful became our enemy. And he was really critical. And finally, after we had explained how all this stuff was gonna work in spite his objections, he said in his classic comment was, “It won’t work, it’s too logical.” And I thought, wow, Fred, that’s a nice compliment I appreciate it (laughs).

01:26:41 - 01:27:16

Then of course, we got things well along. Well we had some problems with the architectural firm, engineering firm. Because they ran into over costs on overruns. And instead of… I think they had a $450,000 contract. It ran it up to around 600,000. Well, about that time, we got a new parks department director. Fellow used to work in a parks department today, had known years before.

01:27:17 - 01:28:15

And he came in and he hired a fellow who kind of a strange duck, in that he didn’t get along with anybody. But he put him in charge of the project. So he essentially took the design thing out of our hands out of Strawser’s hands and my hands, and put it in his hands. And our objective was just to come up with suggestions on how the thing was to be designed. Well, he didn’t know anything about zoos, so he almost had to take our suggestions. But then we got into this thing, and he was in charge of it for a of couple years. And we ran into these tremendous over runs, and over costs and the architectural thing. And newspapers got a hold of it, and they made a big scandal out of it.

01:28:15 - 01:28:59

Oh, this is gonna cost so much more, where’s all this money going and all that. Well at that time Strawser and I breathe the sigh of relief ’cause it wasn’t our responsibility anymore (chuckles). It was his, and he’d been handling for the past couple years. Well, at that time I was president of the NZPA, and my term was up in September. I think it was 77. And the dust began to settle and went in and went in and talked to our new parks department director. And I said, you know… And by that time they had fired the project manager who turned out was a fraud.

01:28:59 - 01:29:13

Nobody had bothered to look into his credentials and it rearranged the staff a little bit. But I went in and talked to our parks department director and I said, look, this guy is really responsible for the whole screw up.

01:29:14 - 01:29:15

Why is he still working here?

01:29:16 - 01:29:52

And couldn’t get an answer. Well, couple months later I was removed as zoo director. And that guy was put in as a zoo director, Bob Yokel. Who knew nothing about zoos, had no experience with zoos, and had reputation for being a horrible person to get along with. Well, I found out a little later that his relationship with the parks department director went back years before he used to be his bartender (chuckles). So it was literally a conversation. And then you were just given…

01:29:52 - 01:29:54

You’re no longer zoo director?

01:29:54 - 01:30:22

Right. I was assigned to be the education director. And I worked with Bob. You know, he’d get a call on the phone about an animal, and I could tell he was talking about an animal and my desk was right next to his. So I’d write out something for him to say about the animal. Found in Africa, lives on the (indistinct). And then he’d recite over the phone. He knew nothing about animals.

01:30:22 - 01:31:08

Absolutely nothing. And after he became zoo director, he used to go to the zoo conferences, and instead of going to the scientific meetings, he’d go off and play golf, or go out and party. And was several years after that, my colleagues in the zoo profession thought I was still the zoo director down there. I kept saying no, no, it’s Bob Yokel. “Who’s he?” You’ve been coming here for two years, you guys don’t know him yet (laughs). Well, let me jump back while you were zoo director, you and maybe this works beyond. You had stated that you have to have a sense of humor when working at a zoo. Were there any funny situations that you could share with us that demonstrate that.

01:31:09 - 01:31:10

Funny situations?

01:31:10 - 01:31:23

Well, let me think on that a second. We had some interesting things come up, fortunately that we could resolve.

01:31:23 - 01:31:25

Where your sense of humor came in handy?

01:31:26 - 01:32:04

Yeah and a little bit of courage too I guess. One night of that, we had a night watchman who was in his early seventies and essentially deaf. I mean, you’d have to yell at him to make him hear you. And I used to go out at night at the zoo. I walk out there and come in the back gate and close it. And I’d stand behind a tree, just to check and see if he was checking and he’d come along and walk right by me. Never knew I was there. But he had a bad habit of checking every lock and he’d shake every lock.

01:32:04 - 01:32:26

And he did this for a couple years, and they started to break. He’d just wore them out (chuckles). But one night he called me, it was 11 o’clock at night and I’d just gone to bed. And he says, “Doc.” He says, “The hyenas got out and they chased me “back to the office, come out, do something.” So I got in the car and drove out there and I kept thinking, I was only five minutes away.

01:32:26 - 01:32:29

I kept thinking all the time, what am I gonna do?

01:32:29 - 01:32:32

How am I gonna catch three hyenas in the middle of the night?

01:32:32 - 01:33:00

So I figured the only thing I could do would be to try and shoot them with a capture gun, and tranquilize them. So I drove up to the hospital, I (indistinct) up six darts, figuring I could miss each animal one time. But I had three of them. I had to make a connection. It’s fortunate they were hyenas. If it had been wolves, or coyotes, or something else they’d have been gone. But hyenas are funny animal. Very curious animal.

01:33:01 - 01:33:41

I got in the pickup truck and I drove around the zoo and there was no lights in the zoo. It was perfectly dark. Couldn’t find the hyenas. So I figured, okay, I’m gonna have to walk around. So I got outta the truck, and I started walking around the zoo went back through the children zoo, back to the very back of the zoo. And there behold, there were the three hyenas sitting in the walkway looking at me, boobing there heads the way they do and letting out who hoot here and there. So finally one of them came running up, maybe 10 feet from me bobbing around like this. And he turned around, I shot him right in the butt (chuckles).

01:33:41 - 01:34:14

He ran back there with that dart and the other two were sniffing around what’s going on, what’s going on. So I went up while they were there, walked right up to them and shot the other two. Had all three of them knocked out within well, 45 minutes after they’d escaped. Thank goodness. Then we had to figure out what to do with them. And they weighed 95 pounds a piece. So I had to go back and get the night watcher and to help me lift these things into the truck. And we went over to the lion exhibit and emptied out.

01:34:15 - 01:34:54

We put all the lions in the night house, and drug these things into the outside exhibit. But they had gotten out of a giraffe exhibit that had rock base to it. I mean, they were big boulders in there, and how they dug out, I don’t know. But they digged and hyenas can sure dig. But you almost have to have a sense of humor when you do things like that. We had another situation out there, We got in… We had two cape buffalo in the old zoo. We got in a trio of forest buffalo.

01:34:54 - 01:34:55

Oh, forest buffalo weighs what?

01:34:55 - 01:35:40

600 pounds, 700 maybe for the male. Cape buffalo weighs 1200 pounds. So they’re half the size. But we did not cut down on the amount of food. So they got really fat and we just didn’t keep on top of the whole thing. Well, one day the keeper came over and he said, “You know, there is one female is walking around “with her tail stuck straight out, “and she’s kind of waddling around.” And I went overlooked it and I said, oh my god, it looks like she’s in labor (chuckles). She so damn fat, we can’t tell whether she’s pregnant or not. So I told him the night keeper, I said to keep an eye on her.

01:35:40 - 01:36:26

I came home in middle of supper, six o’clock or so he called and he said, “She’s down, she won’t get up.” Said, oh god, we gotta do a cesarean section now. So everybody had gone home. We had the night keeper and we had a friend of ours, a Mexican fellow who had just gotten his veterinary license. It was a neighbor of ours. So I got him, I got the guy that worked up at the gas station a night keeper called in one of his buddies. So there were five of us there, and we went over to the exhibit and there was no light in the exhibit. So we rigged up a cube beam light on the fence, hooked it up to the battery in the car. And I went, gave her a dose of rompine anesthetizer.

01:36:29 - 01:37:21

And I had all the instruments there, and we tied her front legs to one palm tree back legs to another palm tree and shaved her side, left side and got ready. In fact, I started the incision and it started to pour down rain. So we covered up the instruments and the incision with the sterile gowns we had there, until the rain passed. Well, then I cut into the fatty layer, which was extensive on this animal. And of course it bleeds a lot when you cut it in the fat and the guy that was holding the flashlight passed out, fell over in the sand (chuckles). So the night keeper grabbed him, held him up with the flashlight. And we went in, we cut open the animal and got into the uterus, got the calf. It was 65 pound calf.

01:37:21 - 01:37:53

Probably about 15 or 20 pounds overweight, dead and pulled it up. And then we had to suture her up. And of course it only takes about 15 or 20 minutes to make all the incisions. It takes a couple hours to sew her up. And I sewed up the uterus and then the muscles the abdominal muscles, and we got just about sewed up and started pouring down rain again. And we covered everything up. And then the shower passed and we finished sewing her up. Well, she did fine.

01:37:53 - 01:38:31

We gave her a long acting penicillin, and I figured, okay, I was gonna have to give her a shot every other day, a long acting penicillin, just to make sure we didn’t get peritonitis. This whole thing. Well, the first shot wasn’t so bad. You know, she stood there and bang. I bumped her right in the butt, the second day, two days after that second shot. When she saw me coming, she ran and hid behind trees, and there was rocks in the exhibit. So we had to sneak around, try and get a view of her so we could shoot her. But by the third injection, she was almost impossible to shoot.

01:38:31 - 01:38:50

We did get it into her. She survived and she had several calves normally after that. So it was a successful procedure. Now from the crazy things that happened in 1975, there was a report that was submitted that some of the animals were being abused.

01:38:50 - 01:38:56

Was there any evidence of abuse and how did you handle that kind of situation?

01:38:58 - 01:39:00

Was it Crandon Park Zoo?

01:39:00 - 01:39:53

1975. It must have been Crandon Park Zoo then. We had keepers that… In fact, I remember the television reporter that came out to investigate animal abuse allegations. He said, “You know, here are a list “of 10 complaints or something.” And one of them was a male lion that had gotten sick and I treated, and then it died. And the time we didn’t even have a male lion, and no lions had died out there. I had treated one lioness that had been sick. And this sort of thing we had some (indistinct) that was one reason why I was hired to begin with.

01:39:53 - 01:40:11

Was because we had these people that… You know, the (indistinct) that thought they were doing something good by complaining about the way animals were kept in cages, I guess. But we pretty well dispelled that and nothing really came of that. Can you tell us… We’re talking about stories.

01:40:11 - 01:40:13

Can you tell us about the deer story?

01:40:13 - 01:41:22

Yeah, you know, one thing about working with zoo animals and wild animals in general, is that they’re unpredictable. I think people buy exotic animals as pets thinking that they’re gonna tame them down. They’re always gonna be nice animals, but they’re wild animals and they just don’t make good pets. They have some luck with things like parrots and minor birds, I suppose. But as far as ocelots and lions and things like that, no. I had an incident happen to me when I first started to work at the Crandon Park Zoo. I was sitting in the office one noon time, eating my packed brown bag lunch, and a lady came into the office and she says, “Oh, the deer is attacking the newborn fawn over there “and it’s gonna kill it.” Well, I knew what she was talking about. She’s talking about the Costa Rican deer, which is the small subspecies that are common white tail and the male weighed, maybe 110 pounds or something like that.

01:41:22 - 01:41:53

But he was very tame. When the keepers cleaned out his chain link exhibit, they’d just walk right in with him and he’d come up and stand beside him, he’s scratching behind the ear on top of the head. And he just loved it. Well, I walked over that way thinking, okay, I’ll find some keepers to help me with this animal. We’ll just separate him out anyway, what the heck, it doesn’t make any difference. To keep this woman quiet. And it was lunchtime, so they were all eating lunch. It was only one keeper.

01:41:53 - 01:42:36

So I did find him walked over to the deer exhibit and I knew there was empty pen in the next door, and this’ll be easier. I just opened up the gate and heard him right in. So I opened up the gate, walked into the exhibit my god, he stood in other end of the exhibit lowered his head and come charging at me. So I grabbed him by the antlers. Thank goodness. And we danced around that pen until finally I realized that I’m gonna have to throw him off on the side, if I’m gonna win this battle. And I spread my legs to get a better position on him. And he just went right under me, threw me over his back.

01:42:36 - 01:43:24

And I fortunately did not let go of the antlers. So I landed on my back and he landed on his side. And the keeper that I picked up ran in and he helped me subdue him and carry him into the next pen. But as I was gathering up and brushing myself off, the woman was out there and she saw the whole thing and she says, “Oh, the poor dear” (chuckles). She wasn’t talking about me either (chuckles) Well, now that brings to mind that you had mentioned you with the carnivore, you had worked with the cheetah, that was actually a very nice animal. Yes. The cheetah we had came in tame, obviously had been tamed in Africa wherever he came from. And full grown male, very nice animal.

01:43:24 - 01:43:46

We let him run loose in the office, in the hospital area. And then we took him out to schools and let the kids pet him and all that. Cheetahs are interesting animal. They’re whole different animal than a lion or a tiger. Their whole disposition’s different. They’re spooky animal really (chuckles). But you always felt comfortable. Taking the animal out- With him, yes.

01:43:47 - 01:43:59

I felt comfortable every time. We were talking about designing the zoo, and you were telling us about it. What was your… You had this opportunity.

01:43:59 - 01:44:03

In your mind what was your approach to animal exhibits and layouts?

01:44:04 - 01:44:58

When we designed the new zoo, we had of course a choice of things, we could do all the big cats in one area, all the herbivores and in another area. And do it by type of animal. Or we could do strictly natural habitats and do a rainforest area or a belt area. We could do a taxonomic area where we had animals again by their relationship to each other. Big cats in one area and apes in another area. We could do a zoogeographic area where we had the animals exhibited by continent or what I would call the popular theme, where we just get the biggest, the fastest and the most colorful. And exhibit them and not worry about anything else. But we chose those zoogeographic theme.

01:44:58 - 01:45:54

Living in South Florida, developing this in South Florida. It seemed like the natural thing to do, ’cause we could grow the vegetation that made these exhibits look realistic, and we could develop outside exhibits, motored exhibits, relatively inexpensively. So we chose a zoogeographic theme featuring Asia and Africa first. Again, the biggest, the fastest, and the most popular animals come from those areas. And then we decided we’d do South America and North America at the end and maybe a polar region too. And that was the way we decided. We decided we would have one main walkway that would go through each of these exhibit areas. Plus maybe a little walkway that you could cut back and leave if you had to, if you didn’t wanna walk any further.

01:45:54 - 01:46:26

But one main walkway. Now this walkway undulated back and forth because we put in a monorail. We knew we were gonna put in a monorail and that would have to follow a straight curve. And so we designed the walkway so that it would bulge out on one side of the monorail, and the exhibit would be on that side. So you’d never have the monorail behind the exhibit site line. And I think the theme worked out very well.

01:46:28 - 01:46:39

You had talked about people looking at your plans and even Heini Hediger, the father of zoo biology and an how did that come about?

01:46:39 - 01:47:07

He was visiting Miami and he visited the zoo I guess, because he just liked to go to zoos. I can’t remember everything that happened, ’cause that was so long ago. But he seemed to like the overall plan anyway. And just one other person just because he’s name is… You indicated that Bill Haast used to be close to the zoo.

01:47:09 - 01:47:11

What kind of individual was he?

01:47:11 - 01:48:04

Bill Haast was one of the strangest people you’d ever want to meet. He had his Miami Serpentarium and he routinely had himself bitten or injected with venom to build some kind of a resistance against it. But when he looked at you, he looked right straight through you. His eyes just were piercing hollow-eyed, and looked right straight through yours. Really a strange guy. I’ve seen him down there, catch cobras and milk them. And Claurita, his wife, she was a character too. He had a situation happen down there where the family had a little kid and they had him up on a guardrail, and he fell into the pit and a crocodile got him and killed him.

01:48:04 - 01:48:33

And that kinda was the motivation for him to get out of the Miami area. And he moved over into West Florida. I think it was Sarasota area someplace, and he’s still alive. And he has looked like he was dying or dead for the past 40 years, but he’s still alive. And he must be in this mid nineties now anyway. Oh, just was interesting.

01:48:33 - 01:48:37

When we were going back to design, did you have anything to do with designing other zoos?

01:48:37 - 01:49:08

(indistinct) Freeport, Bahamas. After we got into the design of the zoo, we had a fellow come through that had been commissioned to design the (indistinct) zoo. And he wanted to know if we would look over the plans. Well, I sat down and looked at him and I thought, well, at least he don’t make any sense. So it turns out he had somebody in a college university someplace in California, I think, designed them.

01:49:08 - 01:49:14

So I went over them with our zoo designer and I said, what do you think of these?

01:49:14 - 01:50:13

And he said, “They don’t make any sense to me either.” So I went back to the guy and I said, look, we’ve looked over these things. They don’t make any sense. I don’t want to get into trying to improve this, ’cause I think it’d be too much work, but we’ll design a whole new zoo for you if you want, if you wanna get into that much. And he said, “Fine how much would it cost?” Well, so many hundreds of thousands of dollars, fine. So we rented an office and the zoo designer and I, and one other designer he had working for him, and a couple other people that were artists. We went to work and we designed a whole new zoo. And the first thing we did was we went through the customs of the people to find out what we might need to know about them. And of course in Latin American countries, they usually have a central plaza where people meet and get together.

01:50:13 - 01:50:43

And so we put one in the middle of this zoo and made an area where people could sit down, and visit and talk. And then we designed a zoogeographic zoo and I thought it’ll be a beautiful plans. But I guess it never got built. We got paid. So that was fine. But I’d like to have seen the zoo built. We got involved in planning another zoo in the Bahamas. I think it was in Freeport.

01:50:45 - 01:51:11

A guy had a garden over there. It was not very big couple acres, and he had some birds in it. And so he hired us to design it and put some like a hummingbird exhibit and a few other things in it. And we got involved in that. But that’s all the zoos that we got involved in designing.

01:51:12 - 01:51:14

And you were director at the time?

01:51:16 - 01:51:36

Let’s see. Yeah, I was director of zoo at the time. Did you have to get permission from your bosses to do this or- Whenever we did anything outside like that, we always had to get permission from our bosses to do it. And they said yes. And how did you get involved with Disney.

01:51:36 - 01:51:37

With Disney?

01:51:38 - 01:52:34

Well, I got involved with Disney because our designer then after a few years quit and went to work for Disney as a designer. And they were going to develop this new African or this new wildlife area, animal kingdom area. And (indistinct) was working there, but they just wanted somebody to look it over and say, yeah, the plans are good and it’ll work. And so this designer, Terry Strawser suggested that I would be the one. So I met with Disney and with the powers to be there. And they said fine. And we agreed on a price. And I made trips there probably every two or three months for a couple years.

01:52:35 - 01:53:07

Looking at their exhibits, and their holding area. They had a beautiful holding area. It was north of Gainesville. It was quite away actually from Disney, about three hour drive. And we had a good working relationship. But one day now the guy I would work with, he retired actually he was dying from some kind of disease. I can’t remember what. Then they put another guy in charge, and we were talking about personnel.

01:53:08 - 01:53:44

And I said, you’ve had a lot of personnel go through here. And I said the people that work with animals are different than concession people. You just can’t treat them the same way. They have kind of an empathy towards animals and they get involved with the animals and you just can’t put them into a routine and expect them to act like a concession attendant. And that was the end of my association with Disney (chuckles). They didn’t like that, I don’t think.

01:53:45 - 01:53:47

So they didn’t ask you to come back?

01:53:47 - 01:53:49

No.

01:53:49 - 01:53:58

Now your association with the Metro Zoo, how long approximately does it take to build a brand new zoo?

01:53:59 - 01:54:51

Oh boy, we see as far as how long it takes to build the zoo. We started building that zoo in the late 1970s. We opened it in 1980 fall of 1980. I would guess we had been working there at least three years, maybe four years. And what we did, when we started building that zoo, we built the first few exhibits right away. And we opened that as a preview center, because people were hearing about this zoo and there’s nothing they could see. So we gave them a preview center to look at and that seemed to satisfy them. And then we went on and we opened the first area, which was the Asian exhibit area.

01:54:51 - 01:55:18

And then the African area after that. But it took quite a while. But it wouldn’t have taken… It didn’t take us as long as it would’ve up in the cold climate, like up in Chicago. Because all we did was we dug the moats right out of the limestone rock. It was all limestone rock, right to the surface. And if you dug down far enough, you get into the water table. You dig down about eight, 10 feet and you were in water.

01:55:18 - 01:56:10

So it was a beautiful natural moat system. And there was no need for concrete retaining walls or anything like that. And then the night house areas or the holding pen areas, we disguised behind artificial rock work. We made out a gunite wire, reinforcing gunite, and it worked beautifully. There’s a few things that we did animal management wise, for instance, in all the hoofstock exhibits, we made an area that we could get up and shoot down on them with a capture gun. ‘Cause hoofstock by and large don’t look up. And it’s an amazing experience for instance, to go into an exhibit with an impala or gazelle and climb up into a tree about five feet high, and they’ll walk right underneath you. They won’t even see you.

01:56:10 - 01:56:48

And it just worked beautifully for us because we could get on top of the rock work, or just climb up one of the trees out on the exhibit. And no problem. You could actually jump on the animal if you had enough courage, I guess. But it was easier to shoot him with a capture gun and a projectile syringe. Now you had indicated that your role changed now when you opened the zoo, had the preview center you were director. Yes. As I recall, I think that’s how it went, yeah. So you indicated that your role as director changed that you were…

01:56:48 - 01:57:27

I guess, an (indistinct) employee and were- Well, after they brought in their new political appointee as a director, I was assigned to be the educational curator and worked with the zoological society and educational programs. But also I filled in for our veterinarian, which we went through several of them back then. Scott Satino was the one I worked with the most and excellent veterinarian. And the one before him and after him were not quite as good. But if he was gone, then I would do the veterinary work. Were you being paid by the…

01:57:27 - 01:57:36

In your new role were you being as education person were you paid by the zoo society or were we being paid again by the city?

01:57:36 - 01:57:58

I was been paid in my new position by the county. It was the county. And I didn’t lose any pay. It was just a lateral transfer, I guess you’d say. But yeah, it was a different assignment. If I can ask the question, how did you handle this abrupt change in your position and authority.

01:58:03 - 01:58:09

How were you able to work with the new guy in this new position?

01:58:09 - 01:58:54

You obviously accepted it. When I found out when the (indistinct) director told me about my new role, the first thing I did was I immediately called all members of my family to tell them what happened, and all my friends so that they wouldn’t be surprised if they read something in the paper. ‘Cause God knows what they’d put in the paper. And I told Bobby Yokel, I knew he needed help. And I told him I’d help him any way I could. And did. I guess maybe some people were surprised. that I did work with him, but there was not much point in yelling and screaming and stabbing my feet.

01:58:54 - 01:59:08

It’s not gonna accomplish anything. And I wanted to stay in Miami ’cause I wanted to see this new zoo built and developed the way it should be. And I think by and large, it has been developed that way.

01:59:08 - 01:59:11

Was Bob surprised to be named director?

01:59:13 - 01:59:54

I have no idea if Bob Yokel was surprised to be named director. I really don’t know. But also after I retired, he remained director for a year or two after that. And then the parks department director retired, they put a new director in, and the first thing he did was fire Bob Yokel. Put in another fellow who had had some experience in the zoo was actually he was assistant director. He was a zoo man. Now in doing this new zoo, you’re moving a lot of animals from Crandon Park to the zoo.

01:59:54 - 01:59:59

Can you talk a little about the amount of animals you had to move?

01:59:59 - 02:00:01

How were you preparing for it?

02:00:01 - 02:00:03

It must have been a massive kind of thing.

02:00:03 - 02:00:06

What were the major obstacles?

02:00:06 - 02:00:44

When we moved the animals from the old Crandon Park Zoo to the new zoo. We felt that giraffes were gonna be the most difficult animals to move. ‘Cause we’re gonna have to take down traffic lights and take down some wires, and somehow get them under the… I think there were two overpasses that we had to go under. So we saved them till last. The small animals were not much of a problem. The hoofed animals, we had an elaborate set of holding pens at the new zoo, that was no problem. Getting a (indistinct) down there.

02:00:44 - 02:01:24

But we knocked them down and put them in crates and took them the… The rhinos I remember we anesthetized them used M-99 on them and knocked them down. Put them in the crate, took them down, woke them up. That was no problem. We did learn a very, very valuable lesson with elephants though. And we had elephant handler come in. I’m trying to remember who it was now, to move them for us. And we moved each animal individually, but we made almost disastrous mistake of separating a calf from her cow.

02:01:25 - 02:02:08

And the cow went absolutely berserk. I thought she was gonna tear that crate, that semi trailer apart, thrusting back and forth. And so we just turned the calf loose finally and let her run up into the pen with her. We weren’t gonna put her in there ’cause we were afraid she was gonna stomp her in the crate when we’re moving her, because it was kind of confined. It was a typical animal, elephant hauling thing, all reinforced and all. But as soon as that calf got up near her she settled right down. So you don’t ever want to separate a cow elephant from it’s calf. The giraffes, the last thing, no problem at all.

02:02:08 - 02:02:38

When we drove up to an overpass, they lowered their heads by themselves till we got underneath it, through it and they raised them up again. And the traffic lights weren’t a problem either. We had some taken down, but they put their head under, and the others they weren’t a problem (chuckles). Well, this was obviously a very big move. I assumed that there was publicity all over the place. There was a lot of publicity about the move and pictures in the paper, and it got us some good publicity. Yes.

02:02:38 - 02:02:44

Did you record this historically, this major move or not?

02:02:44 - 02:03:05

We did not record it unfortunately, but back in those days, no, there wasn’t much to record with movie cameras I guess. But no, we didn’t. Maybe some of the TV stations still have video of it. I don’t know. But it’s unfortunate that there wasn’t a recording of it.

02:03:06 - 02:03:10

How did the animals adjust to their new home?

02:03:10 - 02:03:12

Some problems or everybody settled in?

02:03:13 - 02:04:01

When we put the animals… When we took the animals down there, we put them in a quarantine area, a holding pen area, that was constructed so we could easily load them into crates from there, and then take them over to the exhibit area. And that was no problem there. We put them in the new exhibit area, and we wondered how they would react to moats since all of them except the elephants hadn’t seen the moat before. But really there were no problems fortunately. What advancements were you able to achieve or processes. Was there anything new that you developed that you could add to other zoos. It must have been a very large move that not a lot of zoos had done.

02:04:02 - 02:04:45

This was a large move that a lot of zoos hadn’t done, but it was a slow methodical sort of a thing. It was several months it wasn’t done overnight. And I don’t know as we learned anything except for the elephant experience, that we could’ve said to other zoos, you know, this is how you do it. It just went all real smoothly and I think any zoo person would’ve figured out how to do it. You had mentioned that in the holding areas, you’d kind of designed them so you could load and unload a bit easier to move them to the new exhibits.

02:04:45 - 02:04:55

During this time, was animal care preventive medicine changing during this time that you were doing the move?

02:04:55 - 02:05:00

And were you aware of these things and trying to incorporate them.

02:05:00 - 02:05:06

Here you were building a very brand new zoo as a veterinarian were you thinking about some of these things?

02:05:06 - 02:06:08

Well, when we built the new zoo, of course, we were looking out for the welfare of the animals. And not only did we build a new animal hospital with tables that would hold even an elephant and recline or stand him up on the side. But we had huge X-ray equipment lights and everything. It was set up to do surgery on any size animal from an elephant on down to a marmoset. Beautiful facilities. And the exhibits themselves we built them in such a way that we could catch animals easily. In the exhibits like lions and tigers, we built in squeeze cages. And we built in shoots in the night houses so the holding pens of the hoofstock.

02:06:08 - 02:07:08

So we made it as easy and as safe as possible to handle the animals if we had to. We also trained the animals to react to certain things. Feed them in one area, and then if we had to we could put a crate in that area and feed them in there. And capture them so that there wasn’t a lot of grief, and a lot of discomfort for the animal. So we tried to examine all those animals all those exhibits, build all those exhibits so that they would work well. We did build one quarantine area for gorillas and big cats. And we had a kind of a standard policy when the engineer said that this exhibit will hold an elephant or the weight of an elephant. We always said double it, make it twice as strong.

02:07:09 - 02:07:55

We had a quarantine area that we built for big cats and gorillas. And we told the engineer we wanted to have lights in the area but there had to be outside the holding area, ’cause we didn’t want the animals getting into them. Well they designed it with what they called vandal-proof fixtures which were several feet outside the exhibit. However, we had two orangutans that we were holding there. Stan and Olley were their names, by the way. They weighed about 90 pounds a piece. They weren’t full grown males yet. But one day we came in and we noticed that one of these vandal-proof fixtures had been broken.

02:07:55 - 02:08:36

The light bulb was unscrewed and the orangutan promptly ate the bulb. Chewed it up and swallowed it. So we loaded him up with bread and all kinds of grains in bulk and gave him oil for a while until he passed all the pieces of glass. And he seemed nothing worse (indistinct). But that vandal-proof fixture did not hold the orangutans for sure. Now you talked about that in the beginning, from the veterinarian standpoint that you were sending mimeograph things about case reports and so forth and trying to have this association.

02:08:36 - 02:08:46

Ultimately as time progressed, how did the Zoo Veterinary Association kind of form?

02:08:46 - 02:08:52

You were obviously one of the first original members of it and it evolved.

02:08:53 - 02:08:58

How did information start to evolve with vets sharing it?

02:08:58 - 02:09:48

When we formed the Zoo Veterinary Association, we kept this process of distributing case reports among the members. But after a few years, we realized that we had to do a journal, develop a journal. And we developed this quarterly journal of case reports. I can’t remember exactly how all that came about, ’cause that was a while back. I was eventually president of that association. And as I recall, the journal part of it came about after I was president. Were there veterinarians, you alluded to people that you kind of got information from and respected.

02:09:48 - 02:09:51

Were there veterinarians who you leaned on?

02:09:53 - 02:10:43

Yeah, I contacted other vets when I had a problem. Len Goss was one, (indistinct) was another one. Charlie Schroeder at San Diego Zoo. Chuck (indistinct) at St. Louis Zoo was another one. So yeah, I had vets that were experienced and I trusted, I always called if I had a problem. During your zoo career, whether it be as a veterinarian or as a zoo director, or education person, what would you consider to be the major effects that affected animal care.

02:10:43 - 02:10:45

Major events that affected animal care?

02:10:46 - 02:11:43

Well, one of the major events was the passage of the Endangered Species Act, because that made it imperative that we breed animals. And that was an event that certainly prompted a whole different philosophy in managing animals in zoos. We had the various humane societies, and animal protective groups that always come along and challenge us. Seemed to be more of a fundraising thing for them than anything. But we would try to accommodate them as much as we could. I remember in the early AAC, it was the early zoo vet meetings. I guess there were only two women that showed up there. Well both of them were from the humane societies and the rest were all guys.

02:11:43 - 02:11:49

Now there’s a lot of women there in the Zoo Veterinary Association.

02:11:49 - 02:11:59

Were there zoos that seemed at the time reticent with this new government adoption of endangered species or were they all on board?

02:11:59 - 02:12:45

Well, as far as Endangered Species Act, we had as a zoo profession had been pushing it for so long that I think it was a relief that something was finally done. It’s just that when we realized what had been done, we were all horrified, ’cause here the government had had come up with a situation which is unworkable as far as zoos were concerned. And at the same time there was a bill that was proposed, I think in the senate, that nationalized all zoos in this country. And you know, it was just chaos there for a few years till we got that straightened out. But certainly endangered species prompted a change in the way we manage things in zoos.

02:12:46 - 02:12:50

Now you indicated that you were president of the American Zoo Association?

02:12:50 - 02:12:51

Yes.

02:12:51 - 02:12:53

How did that come about?

02:12:54 - 02:12:57

How I became president of the Zoo Veterinary Association?

02:12:57 - 02:13:00

You where the director of the zoo then, or?

02:13:00 - 02:13:22

Yeah, I think I was director of the zoo then that’s… I’m trying to remember the dates. That’s really going back. I can’t recall, but it seems like I was director of the zoo then. And I just was one of the oldest members there that hadn’t been president (chuckles). So I guess it was a natural thing.

02:13:22 - 02:13:26

So they drafted you for the job?

02:13:27 - 02:14:08

Yeah, oh yeah. They elected me to the presidency and it was funny. Joel Wallick was at St. Louis and I think. And boy, he was a thorn in everybody’s side. And he kept interrupting meetings and everything. Oh geez, he was a nightmare. But years after that, he came down to visit me to sue and I think he had just lost his job then and was really depressed. And it was kind of curious that once he was my antagonist and now he was asking for mercy (chuckles).

02:14:10 - 02:14:28

Now as president of the zoo association, during your tenure as president, were there anything, any major events that occurred that you as president had to deal with, good or bad?

02:14:29 - 02:15:29

I can’t remember any events when I was president of the Zoo Veterinary Association that had to be dealt with. When I was president of the AAZPA, our thrust that year was really public relations and getting more publicity for the zoos. And we entered into an agreement. Oh, we had Winnie-the-Pooh thing and I forget, who it was with Sears or Penny, there’s somebody. And so we had different zoos promoting that and in return they would give us a lot of publicity for doing it. So that was our main thrust really when I was president of the AAZPA, was public relations and publicity. Let’s talk about some things that have other to do than your zoo work. You have an interesting hobby for lack of a better word.

02:15:29 - 02:15:31

You put animals back together.

02:15:32 - 02:15:34

How did you get started and why do you like it?

02:15:36 - 02:16:38

Well, as far as skeletons go, I lived in west side of Cleveland, I walked the creeks in the springtime, when the floods came along and drowned a bunches of animals and pick up the pieces of them and bring them back home, put them together. And then when I was in college, I did some work for one of those zoologists there preparing skeletons. And then in zoo work, of course I prepared some of them. I used to donate a lot of specimens to the Florida Museum. They used to come down once, or once every couple of months and pick things up for me. But it was interesting to me, when I was a kid, I built model airplanes. And so this is like building something with the parts already made. The problem was of course that we got the Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Act and all the restrictions that go along with that.

02:16:38 - 02:17:19

And it wasn’t fun anymore, because there was too much regulation on it. So I gave them away, gave the collection away to University of Miami, University of Florida and (indistinct), and concentrated on sharks. Sharks had been… I started fishing for sharks 1967, I believe it was. An I enjoyed it. When I was a kid in Ohio, I used to fish for carp with light spinning tackle, or not. The spin had fly rod. Short fly rod.

02:17:19 - 02:18:09

And I catch 12, 15 pound carp on those things and fly them for a couple hours. And that was kind of sport to me. I didn’t care about eating them. But when we moved down to Miami, of course, I opened up a whole new world down there, and I started fishing for fish to eat, grouper and snapper. But then I had the gallbladder surgery during Hurricane Betsy. And that’s what got me out and walking the beaches and getting my strengths back, and collecting sea shells first. And then seeing the shark in the water and thinking that’s something I gotta find out more about. So I started fishing for them.

02:18:09 - 02:19:04

And I used a light spinning tackle, 12 pound test line, and the little sharks, and 20 pound on the big ones. And I fished, we fished all over the Bahamas and Sanibel Island all over South Florida for them. But I did that for nine years. And then I think it was Ralph Curtis actually suggested that since I was so interested in sharks that maybe I’d be interested in collecting fossil shark teeth up in the phosphate mines in Central Florida. So he put me in touch with two people that took me out and showed me how to collect fossil shark teeth. And then I was bitten by the bug. So I used to drive four hours up to Central Florida from Miami one weekend a month and spend the whole weekend collecting shark teeth. And I averaged 1000 teeth a day.

02:19:06 - 02:19:51

25 of which were two to three inches, longer, bigger teeth. And from that, I spread out in the Carolinas in Mississippi, there was a big area there where there were fossil sharks, California Sharktooth Hill. And then I started going down to Peru. We had a friend of ours from Zurich, Switzerland, who was a mineral dealer. And used to fly from Zurich into Miami and spend the night with us, and then go down to Lima, Peru buy minerals. But he kept telling me about all the fossil shark teeth down there. So he said, yeah, come down sometimes. So he came through one day and I said, I’m gonna meet you down there in a couple days.

02:19:51 - 02:20:36

Went down there, met him in Lima. And we drove no about nine, 10 hours south of Lima on the coastal desert to a place where there was a guy, a European actually. European descent living. He was married to an Indian, and of course there’s a lot of Indians down there. But he had found half of a skeleton actually, of a fossil white shark. And I bought the thing from him, had it shipped back, but he also took us out hunting and we found three other associated sets of teeth. Teeth had come from one dead shark. So there again, I was real interested in Peru.

02:20:36 - 02:21:14

So I went back seven more times collecting specimens and always took the director of the museum out with me. And we had a great time. But now the Peruvians have declared fossils, something that should be staying in their country, and won’t let you export them anymore. So I haven’t been down to Peru for quite a while. Now, let me ask you one other question though. We’re gonna get back to sharks in a minute. You had a fairly extensive skull collection.

02:21:14 - 02:21:15

How large was it?

02:21:16 - 02:21:32

Well, I had 1000 species of birds. As I recall, a couple thousand, maybe 2,500 species of mammals. And reptiles, probably seven or 800, something like that. There are quite a few.

02:21:32 - 02:21:34

This is what you dispersed?

02:21:36 - 02:21:38

Don’t have anything anymore.

02:21:38 - 02:21:40

Where did you keep all of these?

02:21:40 - 02:21:46

We built a room on our house, and I displayed them best I could.

02:21:47 - 02:21:49

How did the family feel about this hobby?

02:21:49 - 02:22:32

(laughs) Well as long as I didn’t stink up the house, and it kept me home, that’s better than me going out at night, let’s say crossing about. But no, they tolerated it. Our son actually got interested and he helped me prepare some skulls. And these came from literally around the world. I mean they- From different zoos, yeah. They they’d send me the heads packed and salted or frozen one or the other. So people got to know that this was an interest and would contact you. Now with your collection of prehistoric shark teeth, and that interest.

02:22:32 - 02:22:34

How do you acquire them?

02:22:34 - 02:22:37

And is it the same thing, people now know who you are?

02:22:37 - 02:23:08

Right. I go out to Tucson every year, to the big fossil mineral show out there. It’s one of the biggest in the world. And there are collectors and dealers that come there from Chile, Peru, Russia, United Kingdom, from all over China, from all over, and Morocco. I get a lot of things outta Morocco. And they know me, and they save special specimens for me. And I buy them from them.

02:23:10 - 02:23:14

Would you say you have the largest collection?

02:23:14 - 02:24:37

I’d say I have the largest, most comprehensive collection of fossil shark material in the United States, maybe in the world. For example, associate sets of teeth, or teeth that come from one shark that died 10 million, 50 million, 70 million years ago are extremely rare. Because a sharks skeleton is composed of cartilage, but it’s a different kind of cartilage, that is composed of little granules of hard mineral, like material held together by a collage and a connective tissue. So when the shark dies, it’s connective tissue rots and it just disintegrates. I’m sure there are many fishermen who have caught sharks, cut the jaws out, hung them out in a barn and come back in a month and find a pile of what looks like sand under the lower, or what was left at the lower jaw, or the pile of teeth on it. And those granules of sand, are just granules from the cartilage in the shark jaw. So they have a different kind of structure and when they die it disintegrates. And when the teeth are no longer connected to the jaw, then of course, if it rains, they get washed away or washed around.

02:24:38 - 02:25:16

And in the Peruvian desert, the wind blows them around. So to find a group of teeth all together in one spot from one shark is an extremely rare event. Went up to the American Museum of Natural History 15 years ago, I guess. And they didn’t have any, you’d be lucky to find any in any zoos. Kansas probably has several out there ’cause they do get associate sets of teeth. But in my collection now I have 51 associated sets of teeth from different sharks, and 70 million years old to probably about three or 4 million years old. So it’s a very valuable collection.

02:25:17 - 02:25:23

How has the collection helped the community that studies this?

02:25:23 - 02:26:11

Well, it helps them because the more specimens you get of shark teeth, the better your ability to dissect or decide let’s say what they are, and who they’re related to. Associates tell you a lot more because they tell you about the relationship of the teeth to each other in the jaw. And then you can see whether they’re related to modern sharks or not. So shark teeth, I guess, help us better to understand who’s related to who, and who evolved from who, and maybe what’s gonna happen in the future. And have the shark teeth that you have.

02:26:11 - 02:26:16

Have they added to the scientific naming of different sharks?

02:26:16 - 02:26:45

Yeah, they have. In fact, they actually named a species after me (chuckles). I guess that’s the crowning achievement for a paleontologist or somebody that’s studying paleontologist. They have something named after you. But yeah, they have. Because for example, the big tooth sharks, the megalodon shark. For years scientist said that it was related to white sharks and white sharks were evolved from it. Or it evolved from white sharks.

02:26:45 - 02:27:14

Well, in 1987, a friend of mine found some associated teeth up in the phosphate mines in Central Florida. And he called me and he eventually found 75 teeth. And then I went up there and helped him with 120 more. So we got 95 teeth to the same megalodon shark. And because of it, we were able to arrange them in order and see how they fit into the mouth.

02:27:15 - 02:27:20

People ask me, well, how do you determine where the teeth go?

02:27:21 - 02:28:02

Well, first of all, you separate the upper from the lower, because the lower teeth in sharks. Most species of sharks and certainly megalodons, are narrower. The teeth are thicker through, and there’s more of an arch to the root. So when you have a whole group of teeth like that, it’s fairly easy to separate them out. And then of course they gradate down to the small teeth in the corner of the mouth. So it’s not that difficult to arrange them. The interesting thing about that set of teeth though, I kept relating it to white shark because that’s what everybody had done up until then. The white shark, the third tooth over in the upper jaw, slants inward towards the center of the jaw.

02:28:02 - 02:28:36

And it’s smaller. And I could not find that tooth in this set. And I almost gave the set away, I was so frustrated with it. And finally he came to me well, that tooth isn’t there. It’s another tooth the same size. So it’s not really a white shark, or related to white sharks at all. And then we found all the rest of the teeth leading up to the evolution of the big megalodon. And we’ve got a whole series of teeth starting back from the cretaceous 65 million years ago.

02:28:36 - 02:28:57

That show how that shark has evolved over 65 million years. And now there’s no doubt about what it is, or who it is and who’s it related to. So we have made an interesting discovery there, and it’s all because that one set of teeth that was found in the phosphate mines.

02:28:57 - 02:29:02

And you have put together a museum devoted to this?

02:29:02 - 02:29:42

I have a museum, yeah. We had a smaller one in Miami, but we moved up to Gainesville, 12 years ago. And we have one now, the exhibit hall is 32 feet long and it’s about 12 feet across. And then there’s a second room, that’s slightly smaller. And I have the exhibits arranged so that they’re educational so that when we have groups of students come in, whether they be university students, or grade school, or high school students, they can learn something about shark teeth. How they’re formed. How common they are. What species exist.

02:29:42 - 02:30:12

Deformities and shark teeth which are fairly common and the evolution of the big sharks. And so I try to make educational exhibits there for the kids. This is kind of a follow through for your work at the zoo where you felt education was important. Yeah, oh yeah. Of course, I started fishing for sharks and studying sharks long before I retired from the zoo. But yeah, it’s a kind of a offshoot of that. I think it’s interesting, yeah.

02:30:12 - 02:30:16

What is the scientific name of the shark named after you?

02:30:17 - 02:30:33

It’s called Carcharodon hubbelli. It’s a species shark that existed between the present day white shark and the myosin makos. So it’s the precursor of our modern day white shark.

02:30:35 - 02:30:38

Do the people who named it ask your permission?

02:30:38 - 02:30:46

They said they wanted to do it. And I said, okay, if that thrills and delights you, that’s fine, I don’t care (chuckles).

02:30:49 - 02:30:51

And you continue this work today?

02:30:51 - 02:30:53

Yes, very much so.

02:30:54 - 02:31:01

And what are are some of the new things you’re doing with the museum and project?

02:31:01 - 02:31:48

Well, I’ve got a lot of projects that are partly done or that I have to look forward to. I’ve got enough to keep me busy for a long time. I’ve got associate sets that are still in rocks, that I have to get out. I have a special pneumatic chisel that I use and I’ve got a lot of work there to do. Plus I’ve gotten probably about 500, 600,000 teeth from one site in Morocco that we’re trying to sort out the species from it. It’s a 30 million year old site. There’s a lots of things to do. And just totally unrelated.

02:31:48 - 02:31:49

Does museum have a website?

02:31:51 - 02:32:30

No. I didn’t wanna get into that commercialized. And we don’t charge admission or anything like that. It’s just a museum when somebody wants to see it, if they call us, make an appointment and be glad to show up to anybody. I usually give them some shark teeth to take home too, 50 million year old, 60 million year old teeth, something like that (chuckles). Skipping now from sharks to some of the animals that you have worked with. What would you say was the most significant change that you implemented as director in the care of animals.

02:32:31 - 02:32:33

When you were in charge?

02:32:37 - 02:33:33

That’s a good question. I don’t know how to answer that one. Geez, I don’t know. Other than, you know- Was it in veterinary medicine that you did it or you had more of a… What you wanted to see implemented once you were able to make implementations of things. Well, of course we did all that work with sertraline or PCP, whatever you want to call it. And we thought that was gonna be something that would really help the zoo profession, and then got the rug pulled up from under us on that. No, I would guess that the way we designed our new zoo and made arrangements for all the animals, so that they’d be humanely kept, I guess, and easily taken care of.

02:33:35 - 02:33:47

‘Cause we put a lot of research into exhibits, and zoo exhibits, and animal management to build that new zoo. And you mentioned you had taken a tour of zoos.

02:33:48 - 02:34:01

Was there one zoo that as you toured, stood out, had great ideas, or things that you saw, you said I’m gonna want to transfer those ideas to my zoo?

02:34:01 - 02:34:41

Well, there are several zoos that we looked at that we thought were good. Of course San Diego Wild Animal Park was a good example of an open area, where different species were mixed together successfully. San Diego Zoo is nice with its modern exhibits. Brookfield Zoo, certainly another very top-notch zoo, Bronx zoo. They all had their good features I guess. We favored the natural habitat exhibits, rather than the plain old bars, and cages sort of thing. Put on your veterinary hat.

02:34:41 - 02:34:50

How would you say zoos are doing today, to manage their animal collections, regarding medical husbandry?

02:34:50 - 02:34:52

Are they doing enough?

02:34:52 - 02:35:35

When I went to veterinary college, the extent of my training in animal exotic animal medicine was a half a day at the zoo. Now we have internships residencies in different zoos. We have them down Miami. So we’re preparing graduate veterinarians a lot better now to take care of the animals in the zoo. And I think there’s been quite significant progress there, but not only with the veterinarians, but also with the curatorial staff. We got a top-notch curators that know animal management. Back many, many years ago that wasn’t so. And we just had animals.

02:35:35 - 02:36:12

We kept them. Didn’t pay that much attention to them, when they died, they were replaced. But it’s become much more professional. So I would say that working together, the curators, the zookeepers, the veterinarian, and of course the management staff altogether. But I still say the main… The most significant link in animal health is the zookeeper, ’cause he works with animals every day. He knows how to manage them, they’re idiosyncrasies. And that is really the most important link.

02:36:12 - 02:36:17

If you don’t have a good zookeeper, then you’re gonna have problems.

02:36:19 - 02:36:24

Do you have a particular family or of animals you prefer to work with, then if you do, why?

02:36:24 - 02:37:01

Or did you, when you were- Well, people used to ask me what the favorite animal in the zoo was. And by far it was the tigers. They were beautiful animals, impressive animals. I don’t know as I haven’t had any that are more important to me than others. But I liked working with the big cats. The elephants are one animal that I did not like working with. There been more people killed by elephants, I think, than any other animal in the zoo. And we had a person killed at our zoo by an elephant.

02:37:01 - 02:37:20

But if I had to treat an elephant, I would either let the elephant keeper give the injection or I’d shoot him with a capture gun, and a projectile syringe. I did not go near elephants. You mentioned about a keeper at the zoo being killed by an elephant.

02:37:21 - 02:37:25

Were you director at the time, veterinarian or education?

02:37:25 - 02:37:44

Thank goodness, I was not at the zoo when either the two keepers were killed. One was killed by a tiger. I think it was the year after I retired, and the other one was killed probably about 10 years later by an elephant. So I was not there. I would’ve hated to have to go through that.

02:37:46 - 02:37:53

Have you had the experiences where you lost a particular animal, that you cared for a long time?

02:37:53 - 02:37:56

Have any animals been special to you?

02:37:56 - 02:38:30

(laughs) There was a pair of gelada baboons that were kind of special to me. Well, I guess mainly because I did a cesarean section on the female. Delivered a live baby that we hand raised at home, but then she had several young naturally after that, but they were at the Crandon Park Zoo for 20, I think it was 22 years. And they just died of, I guess of old age. But they were kind of special animals. I liked this gelada baboons (chuckles).

02:38:33 - 02:38:36

What would you say made you a good veterinarian?

02:38:38 - 02:39:06

The ability to listen to people, to listen to keepers, to curators, and evaluate what they say. I think that’s one of the problems today, is that people don’t listen to people. People will come in and say, we’ve got this problem and people say, oh yeah, we know all about it. It’s this and this, no. You sit and listen to them and see what they have to say. This kind of gets into the next question.

02:39:06 - 02:39:14

What skill set qualities, does the zoo veterinarian need today as compared to when you started?

02:39:17 - 02:40:15

Well, of course they’re better trained today, but because of the better training, some of them may think that they know more, and don’t have to listen to people like the curators or the keepers. And I think they have to learn to listen to people, and to work with them. The veterinarian in the past has been kind of an odd ball because he’s better educated than many of the people that work at the zoo. Sometimes even the zoo director. And yet he’s put in a position where he’s responsible to the zoo director and kind of works together with the curators. It’s a weird arrangement. So he is gotta be able to work with people, and listen to them and talk with them and all. I’ll phrase it in two different ways.

02:40:15 - 02:40:19

Should a zoo veterinarian become a zoo director?

02:40:19 - 02:40:21

And if so, why?

02:40:21 - 02:40:29

And actually if I modified it, I’ll say, was it helpful to you to have been a veterinarian and then become a zoo director?

02:40:31 - 02:41:17

I think it was helpful to me to be a veterinarian first and then become a zoo director. But when I look at being a zoo director, I think there are two skills, two groups of knowledge that you have to know. One of them is you have to have a good knowledge of the animals. I mean, if you’re running a business, you gotta know what the business is all about. And that’s why I object to politicians running zoos, because they don’t know about the animals. They don’t know about animal husbandry. But the other thing, the other character that a zoo director must have, is he must have good management skills. He’s gotta be able to manage people.

02:41:20 - 02:41:34

We had talked about education, and you said at one point conservation wasn’t that big a deal, because you could get an animal, you don’t have to worry about replacing it. But now it’s a little different, conservation’s a big topic.

02:41:34 - 02:41:38

What should the veterinarian’s role be in conservation?

02:41:39 - 02:42:27

The veterinarian’s role in conservation it’s his responsibility to keep the animals healthy, to advise the curatorial staff on breeding, if it’s a captive breeding situation, or on keeping animals from breeding, which is now become a big problem with zoos. So he’s gotta advise on maintaining the collection, whether it’s a breeding collection, or just an exhibit collection. He’s gotta be able to advise on that, besides treating the animals when they get sick or injured. What would you say is the largest professional problem facing US zoos today, from where you sit.

02:42:28 - 02:42:33

And is there any answers to some of those things?

02:42:33 - 02:43:13

As you see some of the issues. The largest issues facing zoos today. I retired 22 years ago, so I’m not all together familiar with what problems are facing zoos today. But I’ve always felt that there’s certainly a need to get people to the zoo one way or the other, without degrading the zoo. And by that, I mean, putting a carnival act in the middle of the zoo someplace. That to me has no place in the zoo. But a monorail ride through the zoo, okay. As long as it’s done tastefully.

02:43:15 - 02:43:46

But I think you gotta get people out there. You got to get people to be interested in animals, impressed by them, thrilled by them. Then you give them your conservation message. Why habitats have to be preserved. Why individual species have to be preserved. But to do that, you first have to get them interested, and you have to do that by getting them out there. What would you say about…

02:43:46 - 02:43:51

Or how would you like to see the zoo and the future become?

02:43:52 - 02:43:56

What aspects would you think that they should have?

02:43:57 - 02:44:52

Well, let’s see the future zoo. I guess I would like to see the future zoo be much like some of the better zoos today, with natural habitats. I think the maximum educational impact, which I like a zoogeographic arrangement. ‘Cause I think that tells you more about animal life than just putting them all at lions or tigers together, all those stack together. Because people learn then, when they go to the African exhibit that tigers aren’t found in Africa. I think there’s still people today, that think tigers are found in Africa. Lions, yeah. There are some lions in Asia, but I think it makes a better exhibit to make a zoogeographic exhibit.

02:44:52 - 02:45:44

And I know there’s a big push towards computers and pushing buttons and lifting things up, and reading things and all that. I don’t know. I guess I’m too old school. I’d rather see the natural habitat exhibits have a docent there to explain the exhibit and the animal. And have things at the zoo like sleepovers, for high school kids, and grade school kids, and special tours, and take animals out to the schools and get them excited about wildlife. I guess computers are all right, but I don’t know that (laughs). I think you gain more by seeing the animal, and listening to it and smelling it. And seeing it move around.

02:45:44 - 02:45:47

Have you had the opportunity to go back to the the Miami zoo?

02:45:48 - 02:46:08

I’ve only been back there once since I left. In your career, you’ve seen unimaginable changes in veterinary medicine. Things have progressed. Aside from… We’ve talked about the tranquilizer drugs.

02:46:09 - 02:46:14

Were there other big changes that you’ve seen either in diagnosis or treatment?

02:46:14 - 02:46:23

And was there something that aside from the tranquilizer drugs that stood out to you as assisting the zoo veterinarian?

02:46:25 - 02:47:13

Well, the thing in veterinary medicine, I think that has changed is all the specialists. I mean, we didn’t have specialists that dealt with one particular phase of medicine. And when I was in school, it was either small animals or large animals. But it wasn’t somebody that specialized in nutrition. Oh god, let’s see what other specialties we have today. Heart problems, kidney problems, radiology, X-ray treatment for cancer, and chemotherapy and all that. We just didn’t have that stuff when I was in school. So certainly it is gotten more specialized and that has spilled over into the zoo too.

02:47:13 - 02:48:11

When we built our new animal hospital at the zoo, we had installed all this fancy equipment. X-rays, that we could X-ray elephants with. Tables, examining tables that would lift an elephant or (indistinct) antelope or something, and til it up on the side. And so we got lots of specialized equipment now that we didn’t have back then. You indicated you wanted to be the zoo veterinarian. Would you have any advice if I had a couple of youngsters in front of you, any (indistinct) of recommendation, or advice for that next generation of zoo veterinarians. It would be that, I would give any kids that are interested in becoming zoo veterinarians, the same advice I would give to almost anybody going into almost any profession. And that is to get to experience.

02:48:13 - 02:48:16

They say, well, how can you get experience as a zoo veterinarian?

02:48:16 - 02:49:05

Well, you can work in a zoo. If you can’t get a job there or part-time or full-time, become a volunteer. Become a docent, and just absorb as much as you can get as much experience as you can in that field. It does two things. One thing is it gives you a better chance of getting into the field, but it also tells you whether you’re really interested in it or not. I think a lot of people get into jobs because they think they’re attractive, and once they get there, they’re not as attractive anymore because they never had any experience working in that job. And I think it’s important that they get the experience. And then go after the job.

02:49:06 - 02:49:24

We’ve talked about various zoos. The Bronx Zoo or Brookfield Zoo, are considered large major zoological institutions. When you were at Crandon Park, or even Metro as it started in the beginning.

02:49:24 - 02:49:32

Would you consider that a large major zoo, or would you consider it more of a smaller or middle size zoo?

02:49:32 - 02:50:21

Crandon Park was a small zoo. We had only 22 acres. The animal collection grew, because we had a lot of reptiles, a lot of small mammals. And a tremendous bird collection. So collection wise, it was probably a medium size zoo, but size wise, it was small. Metro Zoo it was started out small, but we have 700 acres there to develop, and we’ve got probably at least half of it. Maybe two thirds of it developed now, with a significant collection of mammals and birds, and not too many reptiles as yet. But I would say that the Metro Zoo is probably one of the major zoos now in the country.

02:50:21 - 02:50:25

Can small and medium size zoos make a difference in conservation?

02:50:25 - 02:51:07

Oh, certainly. And certainly the Lincoln Parks is a good example of that. Located in the city. And it’s the only opportunity for many city folks to see animals. Many of them can’t get out where the major zoos are located and the Lincoln Park Zoo is a fantastic zoo. Beautifully done, well run. We had an occasion years ago, back in Miami, where the Rotary club was taking inner city girls out to different cultural attractions. Places they’d never seen.

02:51:07 - 02:52:05

And these were girls that lived within a mile of the ocean and they had never seen the ocean before. And it’s just fantastic to get these inner city people out, to see these things. And if you can’t take the animals into them, or bust them out, you gotta rely on zoo’s like Lincoln Park to carry that. ‘Cause those people in the city are gonna be voting on bond issues for zoo improvement, and they’re gonna be giving you support. And so you gotta get out and see them. So small zoos… Well run small zoos play a very significant role. At at times you hear complaint from zoo directors that there are too few good curators in the zoo community.

02:52:06 - 02:52:17

But as a director and veterinarian, you’ve worked with quite a few curators, hired some, what do you think are the top qualities that a curator should have today?

02:52:18 - 02:52:58

Well, I think the top qualities of a curator today, would be the same as probably the zoo director. They certainly have to have a good knowledge if they’re mammal curators, if their mammals, and birds. But they really should have a good working relationship knowledge with curators and other fields too. For instance, if you’re a mammal curator, you have to know something about the birds, that are found in that area, reptiles too. But above all, they have to be good people managers, good supervisors.

02:53:01 - 02:53:11

A little off the subject though, as a zoo director, were you ever involved in, or had to be involved in fundraising for your zoo?

02:53:11 - 02:53:49

Yeah, so fundraising is not fun and I’m not a fundraiser. What I would do, would be to go out and give talks about the zoo. And then somebody else would give a pitch afterwards. I would not ask for money, I can’t do that sort of thing. But I would be glad to go out and give a talk about the zoo or about animals, and then let somebody else do the fundraising part of it. And I’ll do that now for the Florida Museum of Natural History. If they need a speaker, I’ll be glad to talk, but I’m not gonna be raising money for them if they can do that (chuckles).

02:53:49 - 02:53:54

As you were zoo director, was there pressure put upon you to be the fundraiser?

02:53:54 - 02:54:37

I don’t think so. The zoological society pretty well handled that, and I think that should be their main role, is support fundraising. Moral support, whatever. And supplying funds that would be difficult to get from a municipal budget. Funds for travel, for instance, to Africa or whatever. So they did that. I didn’t feel any pressure to raise money. Sometimes veterinarians and curators or veterinarians and animal keepers, maybe at odds with one another about the collection, and how they perceive the best route to take in making sure the collection’s okay.

02:54:39 - 02:54:50

How did you resolve or were there ever these disputes between various groups, or did you have them as a veterinarian?

02:54:50 - 02:55:37

Oh, we always had the dissidents, the critics that thought they knew how to do things better. We had one situation where a newspaper came out, and they had a list. I think it was 10 complaints from a keepers. And one was about a lion that I had treated, that had supposedly died. Well, I look back through the records, and it was a male lion, and we had never had a male line in that zoo to begin with. And we didn’t have any lions die in the past 15, 20 years. So you’re always gonna have people make up stuff like that. And you’re always gonna have people that believe it too.

02:55:38 - 02:55:53

You just have to sit these people down and explain to them that what they’re doing is bad. And if they’re unhappy to leave, (chuckles). I don’t know what else you can do with them. As a veterinarian, you worked with various curators. Yes.

02:55:53 - 02:56:02

And did you have a way around the obstacle if they disagreed with what you were doing, or try and get common ground?

02:56:03 - 02:56:32

Well, when I worked with curators, I always tried to reach a common ground with them. I mean, if you have a really serious life threatening situation, then you go to the zoo director and say, you resolve this. Listen to what we have to say, and it’s your problem it’s to resolve it, ’cause you’re a director of the zoo. And then live with the decision. Did you have that come to you as zoo director between veterinarians and curators or staff.

02:56:32 - 02:56:33

Did come to you?

02:56:33 - 02:56:58

I never really did. We had one veterinarian that gave us some problems, but I think everybody realized it and he quit. He didn’t last long. The best vet that we had was Scott Satino, and he was topnotch and he still is today. He’s good.

02:57:00 - 02:57:03

Were there any issues that concerned you during your career?

02:57:03 - 02:57:14

Any major issues that concerned you during your career. Do you think they are things that still pop up today, or is there’s anything that.

02:57:16 - 02:57:19

Major issues that confronted me?

02:57:21 - 02:57:25

Or that you saw when you were president of the zoo association?

02:57:27 - 02:58:19

Oh, I guess not having enough hours in the day to do everything. It’s not too difficult to get people that work in zoo as curators, veterinarians to whatever motivated. Because they’re there to begin with ’cause they’re motivated. They could probably be working in another job and making a lot more money, and they’re doing this because they like it. So I don’t think it’s difficult to get the people working in zoos motivated. To get the local people motivated. Yeah, that’s one of the biggest jobs the best thing is to get more people motivated, more people come to the zoo. More people interested in conservation, and supplying and funds for the zoo.

02:58:23 - 02:58:28

What role do you think zoos in the future will play?

02:58:28 - 02:58:31

Will you think it’ll be heavier on education?

02:58:31 - 02:58:34

Will it be now more research?

02:58:34 - 02:58:36

Will it be more the…

02:58:36 - 02:58:38

Is conservation gonna be the future?

02:58:38 - 02:58:41

What do you feel will be the role?

02:58:41 - 02:59:23

The role futures in the future zoos, I think really education is the big thing. Conservation… Well, conservation can be broken down into two things. One captive propagation, and the other would be conservation education. As far as captive propagation and reintroducing species into the wild, that’s certainly limited. You know, all the zoos in this country, we just don’t have enough space to get into a huge program of captive breeding. We do the best we can through SSPs and things like that, but it would be difficult. Now we have saved some animals sure, through captive breeding.

02:59:24 - 03:00:15

The American bison, the Bronx who sent a group out to Oklahoma in 1907 to stock the Wichita wildlife Refuge. And they sent some later into South Dakota. So sure they were major factor in preserving the American bison. I think they were in a while they were down to 540 individuals, something like that. And the European (indistinct) was another one, was extinct in the wild. And they took captive, bred to animals, and released them back into Eastern Europe. I don’t know if they’re still in existence or not, but nene goose and in Hawaii is another one. (indistinct) is another one.

03:00:15 - 03:01:12

So there have been a few, but when you consider the number of species that are in danger, plus the habitats that are shrinking, that’s gonna be difficult. We need to educate people to the fact that we have to save habitats and save animals, animal species, and why we have to do that. And it’s difficult with something like a little mouse that’s becoming extinct. But if it’s a big thing, like an elephant, well everybody can relate to something like that. So it’s a challenge. But I think conservation, education is gonna be the way of the future. Research, we’re always doing research when you get right down to it. Some of it may not be formalized research programs, but we’re always doing research on the best way to manage animals, to feed them, to care for them, to create them, to ship them.

03:01:12 - 03:01:41

So that’s an ongoing sort of thing. And there’s specific research projects that are carried on by some of the bigger zoos, Bronx and San Diego, Brookfield. The smaller zoos can’t afford to have a big research team on their staff, but it’s the education, conservation education. That’s the big thing. What would you say is the biggest conservation success that you had.

03:01:41 - 03:01:42

That we had?

03:01:46 - 03:02:41

Well, I’d like to think it was giving people in the community interested in conservation. As far as breeding animals of course, we were very successful with art aardvarks. They’re not an endangered species, but still there’s something interesting. And we did lot towards better understanding how the animal husband involved with keeping aardvark and reproducing them in captivity. No, I would say the best thing that we had, would’ve been the impact that we made in the community. We did TV shows with live animals for the Ottoman society every year, sometimes in between. And we spread the message in the children’s TV shows. We tried to get everybody interested.

03:02:42 - 03:02:51

And you’d mentioned that at certain levels, certain things could work, and might not work in zoo settings.

03:02:51 - 03:02:58

But have you had experience with artificial insemination in zoos?

03:02:58 - 03:03:02

Have you had experience with semen sexing, or any of these things.

03:03:02 - 03:03:06

These veterinary approaches to helping reproduce?

03:03:06 - 03:03:15

I have never had any experience with artificial insemination, or embryo implants, or anything like that. No.

03:03:15 - 03:03:20

Do you see that they might be helpful or do they have limitations?

03:03:20 - 03:03:31

I think these procedures have limitations simply because we have limitations on the number of animals we can reproduce.

03:03:31 - 03:03:33

What are we gonna do with them?

03:03:33 - 03:03:35

For reproducing them then turning them loose in the wild.

03:03:35 - 03:03:39

Do we have a wild to return them to?

03:03:39 - 03:03:42

So I think that puts a limitation on it.

03:03:43 - 03:03:50

Now in your career, you’ve done a lot of things, but if I asked you for one thing, that would be your contribution, what would you tell me?

03:03:51 - 03:03:56

(laughs) You ask tough questions.

03:03:58 - 03:04:02

My biggest contribution to the zoo field?

03:04:02 - 03:04:38

Profession. Zoo profession. I think getting the new zoo off the ground in Miami and providing a decent educational exhibit for the local people in Miami. And in the profession itself, during the time I was president, we developed a moral awareness to get our message out and to get it known by people, and to get more people to the zoo.

03:04:40 - 03:04:47

Now, from a veterinarian’s point of view, what is your view regarding the maintaining of elephants in captivity?

03:04:50 - 03:05:42

The maintenance of elephants in captivity. If you’re gonna do it successfully, have a breeding program and all that, it’s gonna take a lot of space, a lot of expense in building quarters to house them. And if you’re gonna do that, you gotta make sure what you’re gonna do with them after you breed them, and maintain them in captivity. I know we went from exhibiting one elephant, just ’cause it was big and unusual, then we got into breeding them. But now maybe we’re back the other way again, taking one animal and exhibiting it just to get people interested in it, because our main problem now is having the habitats to turn them back loose in.

03:05:42 - 03:05:47

So what good does a captive breeding program do if we don’t have any place to put them?

03:05:50 - 03:06:00

Now with your work that you’ve been doing, with the sharks, has your work had any impact on the conservation of sharks?

03:06:03 - 03:06:31

Oh boy. You know, (chuckles) I am constantly, let’s say skeptical of research projects. And I guess I’m the critic when it comes to research projects. People come along and they say, well, sharks are endangered. Well, prove it.

03:06:31 - 03:06:33

How are you gonna prove it?

03:06:33 - 03:06:45

Sharks when they die sink to the bottom of the ocean, you don’t find them. You can go along and see how many sharks are being caught. But then they’re restricting the number of sharks that being caught commercially.

03:06:45 - 03:06:47

So how do you know?

03:06:50 - 03:07:33

Years ago, it’s going back in late 1990s. We’re going back 15 years ago, 18 years ago. There was this big pressure to declare some sharks as being off limits for commercial fishermen. And so the feds, they did the same thing they did with the Endangered Species Act. They developed a list of five species of sharks that couldn’t be caught on the Eastern United States. They were whale sharks, basking sharks, two species of sand tigers.

03:07:35 - 03:07:37

And what was the other one?

03:07:38 - 03:08:20

Anyway, none of them were commercial species. White sharks was the other one. None of them were commercial species. So what the feds did, is they bowed to the commercial fishermen and they developed the list all right, but wasn’t nothing was commercial. Well, I had an arrangement at the time with commercial fishermen in Florida, if they caught a white shark accidentally and they were rarely caught, that I would buy the shark from them. Save the jaw and donate the rest of the specimen to Noah or to the University of Miami to study. And it worked well. We got some interesting sharks out of the Keys.

03:08:20 - 03:09:07

And St. Petersburg, one was caught off there, Fort Myers. So when this list came along, I called up the lady that was in charge of enforcing this. And I explained to her what I’d done, that I had this arrangement with commercial fishermen when they caught a white shark was dead on the line that I’d buy the caecus from them. And what I did with it. And I’d like to get a permit to do that. And she said, well, we can’t do that. We don’t give permits out to salvage animals like that. But she said, if you wanna go out and catch white sharks and kill them, we’ll give you a permit for that.

03:09:07 - 03:09:35

And I said, I don’t wanna kill them. I wanna get the ones that are already dead and study them. Can’t do that. So few years went by and finally the feds came along and they said, okay, we’ll issue a permit, to salvage dead white sharks. But when you apply for the permit, you have to list the fishermen that is accidentally gonna catch one of these things.

03:09:35 - 03:09:42

Now of the thousands of fishermen in Florida, how are we gonna know which fishermen gonna actually accidentally catch a white shark?

03:09:43 - 03:09:57

And it goes back to the thing. If you want something really screwed up, you get the federal government involved in either regulating it or managing it or something. But just keep the feds outta your business (chuckles).

03:09:57 - 03:10:03

Now from a procedure point of view, did you literally have to go boat, to boat, to boat, to talk to the fishermen?

03:10:03 - 03:10:54

No, the word got out. The word got out that I was buying white shark jaws, and I was paying good money. A couple thousand dollars for a 15, 16 footer. So it made it worthwhile for the fishermen. And did you have anything to do, or is your work involved, the deep water sharks that are. Well, you know, as we find with shark fishing, as they are wiping out or thinning out, let’s say the shallow water species, that the fishermen are moving into deeper water. As a result we’re finding new species that are located down there 2000 feet down. There’s one species of sand tiger that was unknown from the Eastern United States, Eastern coast.

03:10:54 - 03:11:45

And say until about 20 years ago, a friend of mine happened to be fishing out in a Gulf stream and he’s a commercial fisherman, and he pulled one of these sand tigers in and he called me up and he said, “I’ve got this weird looking sand tiger. “The teeth are different looking “and it looks like a different shark to me.” So I went down and saw it and true, sure enough, it was a deep water sand tiger. Small tooth sand tiger. Was known from other places in the world, but unknown from the Eastern United States. And he was fishing deeper than you normally would. But we’re finding a lot of other kinds of small sharks, mainly occasionally a bigger shark, that we didn’t know existed because they’re fishing in deeper water. Now I don’t get that many jaws anymore from shark fishermen. In fact, there aren’t that many shark fishermen around anymore.

03:11:45 - 03:12:45

I don’t think mainly because of all the regulations that they have to satisfy. But we are turning up new animals, interesting animals in deeper water. During the time you were zoo director, and you talked about moving the zoo, and it was a big job and it was a major contribution. Were there any things that you wanted to implement, but just you weren’t able to do it for whatever reason that you would’ve wanted to have happen. There were things that I would like to implement, but they were small. Let’s say individual things. I liked to have gotten a more professional staff, better trained staff, which would’ve been nice. And certainly would’ve added to the value of the zoo, but in the big picture, the best thing was to get the new zoo.

03:12:45 - 03:12:47

And that we did succeed in doing.

03:12:51 - 03:12:55

Are you still involved in animal medicine today?

03:12:55 - 03:12:59

I haven’t been involved in animal medicine in 22 years.

03:13:01 - 03:13:09

And based on your time at the zoo, and your experience, do you feel that we still need zoos today?

03:13:10 - 03:14:19

I think zoos are very important today, because of the educational value. The zoo operation may again, evolve into more postage stamp collection of animals just simply because we don’t know what we’re gonna do with all the animals we breed. But certainly they’re important they’re the one place where people can see live animals. I mean, you can watch television, and you can look at pictures, pretty pictures and all that. And it’s nice, but it’s not like seeing the actual animal. And I think that’s the main thing that zoos bring to this civilization, I’d say. You’ve devoted a lot of your career to being a veterinarian in zoos, and being a zoo director, and working with educational aspects of zoos, in this profession after all those years that you’ve devoted to it.

03:14:19 - 03:14:21

What do you really know?

03:14:21 - 03:14:26

What can you tell me about this profession, that you’ve been involved with.

03:14:26 - 03:14:28

About the zoo profession?

03:14:28 - 03:14:59

Yeah. I’ve been impressed with the dedication of the people in it. I think we have some really topnotch people working in zoos. And again, they’re working there because they like the work. They want the work. They like working with animals, or maybe they’re educators that like educating people about animals. I think that’s the most impressive thing that I’ve seen about zoos and I hope this continues.

03:15:02 - 03:15:04

How would you like to be remembered?

03:15:04 - 03:15:10

(laughs) How would I like to be remembered in the zoo profession?

03:15:11 - 03:15:19

Well, let me go with two things. In the zoo profession, yes. What about in the industry of what you’re working now with sharks.

03:15:19 - 03:15:20

With sharks?

03:15:20 - 03:16:03

I just like to be known for the fact that, yes, I’ve accumulated the best collection of fossil shark material that people can use as reference and come to look at anytime they want, legitimate people. And to come and study. In fact, we have a scientist coming in a of couple weeks and spend a couple of days at our place measuring teeth, and all. And maybe getting a better understanding of the fossil material. Fossil sharks. In that way, a better understanding of what’s going on today, and maybe predicting what’s gonna happen in the future.

03:16:03 - 03:16:04

And in the zoo profession?

03:16:04 - 03:16:22

In the zoo profession, I guess I would like to be known for the new zoo, the Metro zoo, which I had a major hand in designing and implementing. So yeah, that would be my main thing.

About Gordon Hubbell, DVM

Gordon Hubbell, DVM
Download Curricula Vitae

Director

Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens: Miami, Florida

Director, Retired

Dr. Hubble got a part-time job as a keeper at the Columbus Zoo working week-ends, and that’s what solidified his interest in zoo animal medicine. When he graduated in 1959, there was only six full-time veterinarians in the country in zoo work. He began communicating with other zoo veterinarians around the country. When they got a case that was interesting, they’d write it up and mimeograph it and send it out to each other. Packets of case reports were sent out on a routine basis. That was the beginning of the Zoo Veterinary Association.

He moved to Miami and began working for the Crandon Park Zoo as a full-time veterinarian and then director. Dr. Hubble was on the cutting edge in the use of tranquilizers and the proper doses to use on the animals at the zoo. After Hurricane Betsy devastated the zoo, Dr. Hubble began the clean up and the zoo was opened within two weeks. A lot of the animals had died but many other zoos, animal dealers helped in bringing back some of the animal. Under Dr. Hubble’s direction the Crandon zoo was moved to a better location and became the Metro Miami Zoo.

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The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Zoo & Aquarium Video Archive or those acting under their authority.