April 20th 2013 | Director

Paul Breese

Paul's WWII experiences fostered his confidence and strengthened his passion to pursue a career of displaying, conserving, and protecting animals in captivity. In 1947 Paul was appointed the first Director of the Honolulu Zoo. He developed the facility's master plan, which defined its boundaries in Waikiki with fences and a single entrance. He also designed and constructed many of the animal enclosures.
© Caravette Productions Ltd.

00:00:00 - 00:01:11

Yeah, Paul Breeze, and I was born on October 16th, 1922, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And my dad was a bond salesman, and my mom was a college graduate, which very few women were in those days. And after being a school teacher for a time, my dad died when I was a baby, and my mom then moved over to work at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. And one of the things that she did there was to be an assistant to a guy, a doctor named Kendall, who received a Nobel Prize for medicine to do with some endocrine thing. And then, I fortunately left the coal country, I’ve never enjoyed coal, Mark.

00:01:11 - 00:01:13

How long were you in Minnesota?

00:01:16 - 00:02:32

Only seven years. My mom grew up in a little town on the low country of South Carolina, north of Charleston, little town called Georgetown. And her father was the owner of a hardware store. I don’t know whether you’ve been to Georgetown or not, it’s near present day booming Myrtle Beach. However, in that time, Georgetown was famous as a port city, and as a little kid, I would go and stay with my grandparents and my mom. My mom had a big family. And I can remember the sailing ships from Scandinavia, that would line up the harbor and into the little port of Georgetown. And Georgetown was famous for two things, seafood for one thing, a lot of oysters, the streets are paved with oyster shells genuinely.

00:02:32 - 00:03:37

And for a little kid walking barefooted when you’re 10 years old, you learnt quickly to toughen your feet. But at any rate, my mom then moved back when she left of the Coal North in Minnesota, moved down, there were no jobs at that time in Georgetown that she wanted to pursue, so she went to live in Atlanta. So I lived in Atlanta from the time I was seven until 1935, and she worked at the Coca-Cola Company, which is a world headquarters in Atlanta. And they export barrels, open barrels of concentrated Coke all over the world. And she was an executive secretary to one of the ranking executives in the Coke company.

00:03:39 - 00:03:43

Were you a child who would bring animals home?

00:03:45 - 00:05:30

Yes. Some of the most fond memories and some of the earliest memories that I have of my childhood, is probably the single most prophetic thing, Mark, was two things, two activities simultaneously that at the age of perhaps 10, maybe nine, would be pursuits that I followed my entire life. And I remember this particular event, my mother and my aunt, her sister, who was a trained nurse, were in the bathroom. And we had a little foot and a half long alligator in the bathtub, about six inches of water, and it was one of my first reptilian creatures that we held, that I held as a kid. And I can almost recall, I don’t know whether this is from them telling me or me remembering what happened, but I recall telling them, right, this is the way the alligator moves. Actually, you will see, this is telling my mom that it moves ahead by wagging its tail and it steers with its feet. And then I can recall that, and that was one of the first events there.

00:05:30 - 00:05:39

When you were growing up, what is the first, obviously you had a love of animals, what is the first zoo that you can remember seeing?

00:05:40 - 00:07:00

I have a very vague recollection of Grants Park in Atlanta. And despite the fact that all of us who folks know in the ’20s, Grant Park would not pass AGA accreditation or any accreditation. I thought my recollection of it was wonderful, and I can remember Anne elephant, and that’s when I think of that visit, it was Anne elephant at Grants Park. But I was always… My interests were primarily in reptiles. And I don’t know whether that’s entirely because of convenience. It’s a lot easier to keep an alligator in the bathroom than it is a pelican or mink. But the wild reptilians was something that I look back on now, and I shudder to think because we’d spent, it was difficult for my mom raising me, I had no siblings and she never remarried.

00:07:03 - 00:08:46

So I was essentially raised by my mom and her sister. And for summers, I can recall going to St. Simon’s Island down off the Southeastern, just north of the Florida line in Southern Georgia, at a little beach house with neighbors. And there was a boy my same age that was my playmate. And the family for some reason, agreed to take me along in their car, and they drove down to their beach house. And I didn’t really feel very social with this, I didn’t particularly like this guy. And so they permitted me to wander freely, most of the days by myself in the wonderful low country of the sea islands. And I can recall wandering, wandering, and turning over logs, finding particularly copperheads and water moccasins. And the fact that there was no system, if I had accidentally stepped on one of those enormous eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, which are exceedingly abundant in that area.

00:08:46 - 00:09:04

And if I received a bite, I would not be sitting here today. And there was no backup system, who to call, no 911. And I was just very, very lucky.

00:09:04 - 00:09:06

What kind of schooling did you have?

00:09:08 - 00:09:09

Did you go to college?

00:09:09 - 00:10:42

I did, and that goes back to in Georgia, before I left Georgia, they had a statement, a saying, thank God for Mississippi. And the reason for that, I suspect you might know, that in the then 48 states, Georgia was 47th and Mississippi was 48th and such standards as education and per capita income and that sort of thing. So when I was 13, just turned 13, my mom got sick with a very rapid form of pneumonia. She died within a very few days. It was just before Christmas in ’35. And I was put on a train with a pet turtle to go to the West Coast and live with my dad’s brother, my uncle, and his wife who had no kids, and I’d never met him before. He and my dad had sold bonds together. And in terms of schooling, it was night and day because Southern California, where they had an Orange Grove had good schools, far superior to Georgia schools.

00:10:43 - 00:12:28

And I finished high school there, grade school, high school in Ontario, California, Chaffey High, and San Diego State was only, and still is only 100 miles away. And San Diego Zoo existed, and was not only thriving, but a form of zoo in the west, in the ’30s as you folks well know. So I would go down there either hitchhiking. It’s hard to believe that a 14-year old kid could hitchhike. No problem out on the road, picked up by truck drivers, hay truck drivers, and anyone going into San Diego. So my uncle and aunt urged me to attend college down there, which I did, and which was a glorious time because I did not realize, as kids don’t realize the bigger picture, and the bigger picture then. I graduated from high school in 1940 and was active in boy scouts. And the war clouds on the horizon were evident in the hindsight that war had already engulfed, begun in Europe, but it seemed far away, particularly when you’re a teenager.

00:12:30 - 00:14:11

And we did not realize that, of course, that we were going to war with Japan soon. However, in San Diego, my primary objective of selecting San Diego State College as the place to go to college was the presence of the San Diego Zoo. And what had happened, what kept occurring in the city of San Diego, there were four big aircraft companies building airplanes. They built the Spirit of St. Louis that Colonel Lindberg flew across the Atlantic in ’27, even though it’s named the Spirit of St. Louis, because the funding for it came from financiers in St. Louis, it was built in San Diego. And in San Diego, there was this huge transformation just at the time I began college there in ’40. There were more people working in consolidated aircraft, building B-24 bombers, and Catalina’s flying boats to observe submarines. More people working in that one aircraft factory Within the first year after I started college in ’40, ’41, then lived in the entire city limits of San Diego. San Diego just mushroomed in that time, even though the War of Pearl Harbor was a year and a half away, the war effort was extreme.

00:14:13 - 00:15:40

And so all of a sudden, here I am, 18 years old, working at the San Diego Zoo as an assistant reptile curator, not reptile curator, reptile keeper. Kind of back me up now. You’re in San Diego, you’ve started college. Yes, now what happened then- How did you, you were visiting the zoo, but get me to how you started your association with the zoo. Like all of us in the zoo business come to realize, the most effective way to accomplish anything is person-to-person relationships. Not on paper, not letters of introduction, they all feel a need, but the important thing is getting to know people that realize you are real, you are authentic, you care, you have credibility, and you’ll come to work on time. It’s much more important to come to work on time than it is to be a brilliant grasshopper that comes to work or doesn’t come to work. At any rate, the person that was my first link with the San Diego Zoo was a guy that later became, he was a classmate at San Diego State.

00:15:40 - 00:17:15

He lived there in San Diego, in the city, a guy named Chuck Shaw. Now Chuck Shaw was a year older than me, and Chuck later became the reptile curator at San Diego for many years. And then at his later years at San Diego Zoo, he became assistant director. Well, Chuck was deeply interested in reptiles and keeping reptiles, and he had been encouraged by, and worked at the San Diego Zoo. And by both Cy Perkins, Cy Perkins was a banker turned reptile curator. And there was a little mixed up there because Cy was a full-time employee at the zoo in charge of the reptile building that had just been built with WPA, federal Roosevelt sponsored government, WPA money that was to help bring us out of the great depression. And so it was a brand new reptile building that was only what four years old at the time. And Chuck worked there as a keeper on weekends for Cy Perkins.

00:17:16 - 00:19:00

And Cy, essentially, back to the war time and how that affected the zoo. It affected the zoo because a person that could be a keeper in the zoo could go two miles away, worked for consolidated aircraft, know nothing about building airplanes, but get to work on time, learn to be a riveter in one day, rivet these airplanes together and make way a lot more money. So the zoo staff was drawn from the zoo down to the aircraft factories and other war industries, but primarily the aircraft factories. So two things were happening simultaneously. As San Diego exploded in population, the zoo staff was depleted, and at the same time, the zoo visitor count rapidly exploded. So the war workers that had moved from Arizona and Oklahoma into San Diego frequently, the wife and the husband were employed. They’d bring their kids during the summer when there was no school to the zoo in the morning and say, “Okay, kid, we’ll pick you up at the end of the day.” So the zoo was overrun by unsupervised young people, but at any rate, so it was, they needed dedicated people. And my concern, of course, was not money.

00:19:00 - 00:20:37

My concern was my interest in reptiles and what a marvelous, marvelous opportunity, Mark, it was to work there. So Chuck got you in. Chuck got me into the zoo and Cy Perkins, I can remember to this day, the most important information he ever imparted, because he’d gone through a series of eager young teenagers that had kept her ups at home, and once the animals thrived, many of the kids developed an attitude, I now know the answers, and practically a know-it-all attitude. Thank God I never had that. I just wanted to keep learning, but Cy said, “Okay, Paul, here’s the message I give all new employees. I wanna hear your ideas, don’t have a closed mind, but first find out what we do, what our procedures are. And once you know what we do, then find out why we do them this way. And once you know those two things, then give me any ideas you have on changing the procedures, feeding, cleaning, handling, whatever ideas of reptile keeping you might have.

00:20:37 - 00:20:55

And that’s the way it is here. And I’ve never forgotten those, what simple, easy, clear cut, and truly valuable, meaningful. Find out what we do, why we do it, and then gimme your ideas.

00:20:55 - 00:20:59

So you were hired as a part-time keeper or Full-time keeper?

00:21:01 - 00:23:29

Just part-time weekends, school holidays. But even with those school holidays, I had a Model A Ford, that when I was a junior in high school, I’d worked as a firefighter to earn money, which was a frequent thing at where I’d gone to high school there and summer jobs. And I earned the money to acquire a Model A, I don’t remember the cost of any of my other cars of which I’ve been many, but that Model A, Mark, was a 1931 Model A Ford, that year was ’38, so that made it only seven years old, but it was in perfect shape, and I paid $47 and 50 cents for it. And ran beautifully, I could take it apart, learnt to put it back together. And it was to be a teenager interested in reptiles in San Diego, to have a Model A Ford, that in two hours could be in the Bargo Desert, it’s fantastic, or straight south in the Baja, south of Tijuana, down into Lower California. So in addition to working in the zoo on the days off or weekends and vacations, I squeezed trips with Chuck primarily, and Chuck’s then girlfriend, who later became his wife and mother to his three kids. We would, four of us and my girlfriend, would travel to Lake Sabino Canyon in Tucson, and collect all those wonderful Arizona rattlesnakes, bring them back to San Diego, and San Diego County rattlesnakes. Which the rattlesnakes were one of the biggest trading items, rattlesnakes as the reptiles to trade for the San Diego Zoo with the other zoos.

00:23:29 - 00:24:48

And of course, sea lions was the standard mammal thing. That they bought the sea lions from the Portuguese fishermen and developed those. But at any rate, very soon, the man that operated, there were two sight seeing buses in San Diego Zoo at the time. They were a long bed, not the fancy double deckers that they have the huge fleet of now. These were single deck trucks, long bodies, flatbed trucks, and across were pews like church pews, the seats going across. And we did have the technological abilities to have a loud speaker around our neck that we could talk into the mic. And it was basically, there were just two vehicles then. And very often, only one of them was functioning because of the shortage of staffs.

00:24:48 - 00:26:12

So I got to know Ms. Benchley, who was in the… They called her executive secretary, but she essentially was later, she did the same duty, but she was named the director. Dr. Harry Wegeforth was still alive at that time, he died in the middle of the war. But she somehow, or other had met me as an employee, even though my direct boss was Cy Perkins. She walked around the zoo and kept up, she and Cy were close friends. And so she’d gotten to know me and I was fresh and enthusiastic, and I had a driver’s license. So commercial license was unnecessary in those days, so I’d just been able to drive less than a year and she named me as one of the drivers, promoted me. I remember the salary, it was $5 a day, which if I had to pay to do the job, I would’ve been happy to have done it, but that was the salary at that time of a bus driver.

00:26:14 - 00:27:31

And in those days, Mark, the zoo was so small and the duties were so concentrated that she and her secretary were at the zoo’s entrance, which was long been destroyed. A tiny little building near where the bus drivers, where the bus began to pick up on the tour. At the end of each day, I would take my little cash box down with the cash I’d, I think it was 25 cents, for each passenger on the sighting tour that lasted, I believe an hour. And I remember buses just leaving for a two mile tour of the a hundred acres San Diego Zoo. That was the speed. And then people would climb aboard and we’d do the bus ride. And at the end of the day, I’d take the money down to Mrs. Benchley in her office. And she took a shine to me.

00:27:33 - 00:28:57

And I remember specifically an event that I had did not come in at the end of the day, ’cause I was talking to, and I believe, teenage female passengers that were interested in chatting further after the last bus ride. So I was maybe 20 minutes behind schedule taking the cash box in to her. And I recall that she really chewed me out, but in a very friendly way explaining, “Hey, I have to go home at the end of the day, I have to make a talk tonight and I can’t leave here until I get your cash box.” And that was the beginning. She was my primary mentor in the zoo field. And it was through Mrs. Benchley, I never called her Bell, even though our friendship went from then until she retired in ’54. And then after she retired, we’d visit her when we’d go to San Diego, which most people after she retired pretty well forgot about her.

00:28:57 - 00:29:00

When you were the bus driver, was that a full-time or part-time job?

00:29:00 - 00:29:18

Again, weekends, it was full-time, but it was all day Saturdays and Sundays and holidays. And then I was still going to San Diego State the whole time, full-time student and full-time bus driver on the days off.

00:29:18 - 00:29:21

Did you ever work at the San Diego Zoo as a full-time employee?

00:29:21 - 00:30:46

No, never. Because the war came very soon, and when that occurred, then there was a real exodus of employees. But they not only left to go to work at consolidated aircraft, they were drafted and they joined up. So I joined up with the Naval Reserve as a Navy officer training. And in so doing for some reason or other, even though we were eager to do our part and fight the war, there weren’t enough places, positions in the Navy Training School for the officers. So the Navy Reserve guys said, “Okay, you stay in college, we review your courses to make sure that they have some application, and appropriate to you becoming a Naval officer, which was essentially the standard courses. And then you remain here, you won’t be drafted, you will be called as soon as we have classrooms available for you. So that went on some months.

00:30:46 - 00:32:30

So I continued to at San Diego State, where same pattern, full-time student, full-time full time days off and summers as bus driver at the zoo, and then squeeze time for trips with Chuck Shaw. Chuck signed up in the Marine Corps, he was a born leader, he became sergeant in his Marine Corps unit and was assigned Pearl Harbor. I then went to Navy school when they had space for Naval officers in ’43, as I recall. I went three months up in Flagstaff, Arizona, Old State Teachers College up there was our first Navy school. And then next was Columbia, right here in this city, as another three months. And I graduated from Columbia here as a Naval officer, an ensign. And then went down and had invaluable training as a Navy officer in the South Pacific, running landing craft. And that was just a perfect training program for a future zoo official, because it taught both leadership, flexibility, you had to be very adaptable.

00:32:30 - 00:34:13

And it provided this opportunity that I, at the time, I had enough of, I think from my mother. My mom taught me to take advantage of your opportunities. And this day is only never gonna reoccur, this is it. And when our ship went to places for weeks at a time like New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and even though we participated our landing craft in five different campaigns in the Philippines, two times, Leyte, Lausanne, Carolyn Islands, Palau, and another Carolyn island. And then the final landing was in February of ’45 just four months before the war ended in Iwo Jima. And that was a marvelous, as I say, training under critical conditions and everything in Glen Eastwood’s movies about landing in Iwo Jima was true. It was a messy, difficult, cold time in February, but it was marvelous training. And that brings us to Hawaii, Mark.

00:34:13 - 00:34:24

So when- Before you start, I wanna just get a couple of things here. You said Belle Benchley you had kind of a mentor, she was kind of a mentor to you. She was my most important mentor.

00:34:24 - 00:34:31

What kind of things was she saying to you that in later years you remembered and helped you?

00:34:31 - 00:36:23

Okay, the way it came about, when I first came to Hawaii in the Navy, I went around Diamond Head in a Navy troop ship or a Navy, going to be assigned as a landing craft officer on on a ship that carried both the troops and the landing craft. I went around diamond head in early one February morning, and I looked up there in those green hills. And even though I’d left one of the prettiest places in the nation, San Diego, I said at that time, I’m going to live here. So after the war in ’46, I got married and I went back, well, went back with my bride or bride to be. And we went to, we got married in my hometown there, headed in where I’d went to high school with my uncle and his wife, my aunt. And then we went down to see Mrs. Benchley with my new wife. And we had this conversation, as I recall. She said, “Well, Paul, now that the war’s over, are you gonna come back and work with us?” And I said, “Ms. Benchley, I sure appreciate that you’re feeling that way, but there’s an opportunity to build a zoo in Hawaii.

00:36:25 - 00:39:13

We wanna live in Hawaii. I wanna get out of the Navy in Hawaii. As I worked toward rebuilding, there was a zoo here in Hawaii many years ago, it’s essentially withered away even before the war. I’d like to have it, to help rebuild it and to be in charge of it. And will you help me?” And she said, “Sure, of course.” She said, “If I can’t lure you back here, I’ll help in any way I can.” She said, “You know that.” And I said, “Sure.” And then she said, I had enough perception, Mark, to say, “Is there anything in Hawaii, that we can do, that I can do for you while I’m working toward building a zoo?” And she said, “Yes.” She said, “Now that the war is over, we’re going to be exchanging animals with zoos in Australia and in Japan, probably, but particularly in Australia. And we’ll be purchasing animals in Southeast Asia.” So I said, “Great, you let me know when they’re coming through and I’ll do whatever I can to either care for your animals, going to these zoos or any animals that you acquire, either on ships or through the air freighters, that are gonna increase more and more.” And I asked, “What suggestions would you have?” And she said, “Gee, that’s a big bite. But the one thing I can recommend most strongly to you, Paul, is get to know the newspaper people. Get to know them as individuals or reporters and the editors, because if you’re gonna build a zoo and renovate a zoo, you’re going to need the help of the newspaper people.” And I said, “Gee, I’ve not dealt with the newspaper people before except college papers.” And she said, “Well, I can give you these three things.

00:39:14 - 00:41:14

Always tell the truth, never promise them anything that you can’t deliver, and be friends and always keep your word.” And, okay. My biggest, probably biggest ally, Mark, biggest group of allies were the media people. That was, of course, pre-TV, TV came into Hawaii in the 50s, early 50s. But my best allies were just what Ms. Benchley said, the newspaper people, because when my then wife, Mary Lou, and I went back to Hawaii, I had just gotten out of the Navy there, I finished three years in San Diego State, accumulated credits. And then I finished the last year at University of Hawaii in Honolulu. And I got my degree there in biology. And while I was doing that, we were organizing a group of friends that I’d gotten to know during the war, at the end of the war. You see, after World War II, Mark, you can’t just say, “Everybody go home,” because you had to have a way to get them home.

00:41:14 - 00:42:56

And as a people were released from the Navy duties based on their appoint system and the people that were unmarried with no dependence were the ones that were retained the longest. Married folks and particularly those with kids got out sooner. So somebody had to run the ship to bring our troops back from the south Pacific, from the Marianna’s, from the Philippines, from New Guinea. So I was still, during the tail end of the time in the Navy, I was assigned to the Dock Master’s Office at Pearl Harbor to help dock the ships that were, they had called it Operation Magic Carpet, to bring the troops back to the US. And they turned the ship that carried the most people were aircraft carriers, and their whole decks were laden with returning servicemen. So during my time there in the Peace Time Navy, I got to know certain Navy officers that were resident there in Honolulu. And then, of course, I got to know the university people in the year that I attended the university of Hawaii. And naturally I took biology and zoology and botany courses up there.

00:42:56 - 00:44:41

So I mustered through a human person-to-person contact developed kind of a base core group. We didn’t ever organize ourselves as a zoo society or zoo supporters or anything. We just set up, they were friends of friends, that we’d meet for dinner or picnics on the beach. And I deliberately selected, went ahead with her idea, with Ms. Benchley suggestions of getting like-minded people that were interested in this building, rebuilding the zoo in Honolulu. And one of the most important of those was the head of the Zoology Department at U of H. He was all for it, a guy named Harvey Fisher. And then, so we did some letter writing campaigns, and simultaneously with my interest in rebuilding the zoo, getting out of the Navy, and then in a short time, graduating from University of Hawaii, all of these things were happening simultaneously. There was a small group of animals at a local dairy.

00:44:43 - 00:46:36

Far fetched, as that may seem at a local dairy, which is located right now on the grounds of one of the classiest hotels in Hawaii, out of town, about five miles, resided an elephant and the Bactrian camel, and two chimpanzees, adult, very large Chimpanzees. And these animals were, as to do with pet animals that are at the level of elephants and chimpanzees, you have to have a bit of a bizarre background. And the bizarre background, Mark, in this situation, was one of the wealthiest men, he was a player in this. I never met him, I wish I had. One of the wealthiest men in the nation. He was the heir of the Fleischmann Yeast and Fleischmann Yeast. Fleischmann Yeast and Fleischmann Gin organization, manufacturing company, and his name was Chris Holmes. Now Chris Holmes was many times married, and was essentially what you would probably call a jet setter, and the joke was that he, a bad joke, utilized, not just the money of his Fleischmann Gin heir, but he drank a fair amount of it.

00:46:37 - 00:48:31

So as a consequence, he lived a life of multiple marriages, and he had this interest in zoos. He had a zoo in Santa Barbara, California, well, animal collection, at his property in Santa Barbara. And then in about ’36, he moved to Hawaii as a second home. And he bought an island in Kane’ohe Bay on the opposite side of the mountains from Honolulu on the island of Oahu. And he put up a massive dredging operation and he increased size of the island from about four acres to about seven acres with dredging the coral, which would not be permitted at the present time, scooping the coral in. He built a show place Where movie stars, Amelia Earhart stayed there. He entertained lavishly, presidents, President Truman, leader, stayed there after… Chris Holmes became an active member in the community, became a member of The Parks Board, and he inherited, he purchased this small elephant from probably Hagenbeck, had her shipped over, pictures of her when she’s maybe six, seven years old, he brought chimpanzees in when they were babies.

00:48:33 - 00:50:33

And then right in the middle of the war time in ’45, 1945, Chris Holmes committed suicide. So in his will, he had left these animals in this island and they were residing on this island in Kane’ohe Bay. He left these animals to the owner of a dairy, a guy named Frank Losi, that owned this dairy outside of Honolulu, and he’d had, it was his camel that he bought from a traveling circus. It was a hybrid, I think, between… which is not very important, but one of the few hybrids I’ve seen between the dromedary and the Bactrian. So he got this young elephant who was well trained, its a female, and the two chimpanzees, and had them at the dairy. And after the war, a national firm purchased the dairy, the privately-owned dairy. And the owners when they came out from the mainland, they observed that this elephant and the two chimpanzees and the camel not only resided in the dairy, but they were open access to a side road that any visitor could go right next to these animals, 24 hours a day.

00:50:34 - 00:53:44

And so the dairy owners were very aware of the liabilities and concern, and there were gassed when they saw carloads of kids climbing out and pulling grass and weeds, and feeding it to the animals, and throwing lighted cigars in at the, now very adult, very large chimpanzees that were housed in sort of a converted garage situation, or converted cow shed, it really was, with chain link and then heavy bars. And so we had realized these animals, when I’d gone to San Diego, I mean to University of Hawaii, I was aware of the animals that were there and I’d go inspect them. And as a matter of fact, when my wife and I talked to Mrs. Benchley on our first visit there in ’46, back to see her, we mentioned, “Hey, not only, Mrs. Benchley, is the zoo pretty well gone, there’s this great bunch of fine animals that are owned by the dairy, which the rumor is that the dairy owner is gonna sell out, and maybe they could be in nucleus if the new owner, he could be persuaded to offer them to the city as sort of a nucleus to rebuild the zoo.” So we had not only the interest in our small group, but we had a specific goal of an event that could occur. And we were delighted when the new owners purchased, after they just purchased the dairy, they immediately saw they didn’t want the liability of these animals, so they did offer them to the city. And the rumor is that the PR guy that was employed by the dairy said, “Hey, here’s what I’d suggest to the dairy new owners. Offer them to the city, they had a zoo before, the elephant killed the keeper back in the middle of the depression. People are down on the zoo, the humane society is down on the zoo. They urged the zoo at that time to get rid of the mammals, stick to birds and just go through the gesture of offering these animals to the city and the city will turn them down or either take them or turn them down.

00:53:44 - 00:55:01

But that way, you, as the new owners moving to this community will look good either way that happens.” So they did offer them to the city and one of the, again, it all goes back, Mark, to people and people and people. And in this campaign, and I think that’s a good word, campaign, that I’d had to build the zoo, I’d gotten to know the PR lady for the park department, and the park department was operated by a park’s board. It was quasi separated from the municipal government. It was part of the city and county of Honolulu. However, it was not a department under the Mayor’s Office. It had separately been established as appointed part board of dedicated, interested citizens.

00:55:03 - 00:55:31

So this PR lady who was a friend of mine, who I had developed a relationship with her in terms of getting her interested in the idea of let’s do a zoo said, “Okay.” We basically asked her, “Okay, Lorraine, what do we do?

00:55:32 - 00:55:55

How do we develop, advance this idea of urging the city, the park department, the park’s board to accept these gift animals as the nucleus of a new zoo?” Now you’re doing this as a private citizen?

00:55:55 - 00:57:44

Oh, sure. I was not only a private citizen, I was only 24-years old, and I’d only lived in Hawaii for a matter of months. I was very green, but I had in the time I’d been there back and forth when our ship went back during the campaigns and then we’d come back and the ship would be worked on because it was very tired and worn, I’d gotten to know essentially a childhood sweetheart that I’d known since we worked together in the seventh grade in Southern California, and her dad was assigned a job at the University of Hawaii with the ag extension because in Southern California, he was working with citrus, oranges and lemons, and he was offered a job with the University of Hawaii doing the same thing. So I followed. Now during the time, there is a zoo in Hawaii. Okay, let’s go back on the zoo. Here’s the way the zoo worked in Hawaii. At the time, we can go backward. At the time I got there, the only mammals at the zoo, the location is probably the finest location of any zoo in the world.

00:57:46 - 00:59:52

It’s on the slopes of Diamond Head Crater on White Key Beach. Essentially, it’s a diamond in the rough. When I moved there or lived, was in the Navy there, the mammals in the zoo, total mammal population was about six domestic goats and about the same number of reeses and capuchin monkeys, though that is the total mammal population that zoo had dropped down to. There were 12 Galapagos tortoises that had been collected in the Galapagos by Dr. Townson here at the New York Zoological Society, he was director of the aquarium here. And in the ’20s, he collected the tortoises and distributed them to a number of zoo facilities throughout the mainland. And Honolulu Zoo in the ’20s received 13 of these animals. So when I got there, there were 12 of them and they were now adults, and then a large bird collection and that was it. And the history, to go back a bit, the zoo began in 1914, which was only seven years after the city and county of Honolulu was established.

00:59:53 - 01:02:19

And I’ll go back a minute more. Well, a tiny bit earlier than that. Historically, Hawaii was a actively operative monarchy, Hawaiian islands were until 1893, when then queen, Liliuokalani, was essentially disposed from her… She was urged out, forced out, and many books have been written about this, by a group of descendants of missionaries, primarily Americans and other businessmen, but mostly Americans, that with the encouragement of a group of marines, US marines, that happened to be on a ship in the Honolulu Harbor at that time in 1893. From 1893, the businessmen, the American businessmen, of course, urged their congressmen to make Hawaii a territory. Hawaii, the first American real interests in Hawaii were acquiring the rights to Pearl Harbor, because Pearl Harbor, of course, economic, from the military standpoint was an enormous advantageous position for our Navy fleet, being almost halfway to Asia, stopping point. So we negotiated, the US negotiated to get the rights to Pearl Harbor. Then the US, for seven years, between 1893 and 1899, no, 99.

01:02:20 - 01:04:27

For that period of time, it was called a republic, because between the monarchy, when the monarchy was overthrown in ’83, the hope was by the men that overthrew the monarchy, that Hawaii would become a territory immediately, and it didn’t. That was huge amount of political intrigue. Year after year, the queen would go back, attempt to deal with the politicians in Washington, please don’t take the islands as a territory, we wanna go back to the monarchy. That went on for a number of years. Finally, at the time of the Spanish War, Spanish American War, when we acquired Cuba, we also, the United States acquired the, they adopted action in Congress to declare Hawaii a territory of the United States. So it had only been a territory for a very short time, and then during that brief time functioning as a territory with the territory legislature, the city was established. So the City in Honolulu was established, it was, I believe, in 1907. So less than seven years, the zoo began after the City of Honolulu was established, really early, not early from the standpoint of Philadelphia, but early from the standpoint of being an American city.

01:04:29 - 01:06:04

So the first zoo director essentially was not called zoo director in Honolulu. He was a politician and he happened to have been the same age as I was when he started. He was 24, he was a part Hawaiian, a very forceful, effective person named Ben Hollinger. And in those days, he was named the chairman of the parks and recreation, parks and playgrounds they called it, committee. In those days, the political committee chairman, Honolulu was such a small city, were essentially also the administrators. And so he had a deep interest in the zoo. Ships would come through Honolulu with animals, and the key ship that was, he made the most, that was mostly to his advantage, Mark, was an animal dealer that lived in Australia, that collected animals, not only from Australia, but from Africa across Indian ocean. And the guy’s name was Eli Joseph.

01:06:04 - 01:08:12

And this fellow was half (indistinct), half Caucasian, and he had many ties here with the Bronx Zoo, and he brought the first koalas and the first platypus. Platypus died, I think, I believe it never got here, but the koalas did get here and not very long, here being New York back in those days. And in 1916, two years after Ben Hollinger had become, essentially established the zoo in Kapi’olani Park, the animal owner dealer, Joseph, came through with a load of animals from Sydney going to Vancouver on a ship. And on that ship was some birds that Ben Hollinger, the supervisor, essentially the first director of the zoo here in Honolulu had ordered some Australian cranes, some Australian black swans, cockatoos, but on that ship also, was a young African elephant. And Ben Hollinger was an eager, assertive young man. And he saw that African elephant, and the one day the ship was here when he went aboard her. He negotiated very rapidly and very heavily with its owner. And Joseph had trained this animal to carry people on her back.

01:08:13 - 01:09:49

She was five feet, four and a half, maybe five years old. And Joseph, they worked a price out for her. Price was $4,000, they agreed. But of course, Ben Hollinger did not have $4,000. So Ben Hollinger being the promoter he was, he said, “Okay, Mr. Joseph, I’ll accumulate that money, that $4,000 to buy your elephant. And if I let you know by cable, when you get to Vancouver, that we have the $4,000 for her on your return, will you bring her back?” And Joseph said, “Okay, you’ve got her for that.” Now the ship left the next day with the elephant. And in that week it took the ship to get to Vancouver, Ben Hollinger proved his worth as a promoter. Now 4,000 bucks, $4,000 in 1916, would’ve bought you a beach house on Waikiki, a house and a lot.

01:09:50 - 01:11:26

Cars were selling for $400 delivered in Honolulu, $400 total. So this elephant for $4,000 was the equivalent of the price of a beach house on Waikiki Beach. It was a lot of money. So he used all his persuasion with both the business people, the newspapers, the school children, although he had a very rapid timeframe, a very tight timeframe. He was able to scrounge up that money in that week. And he triumphantly, at the last minute, it was a cliff hanger, cabled Joseph in Vancouver, elephant’s name was Daisy, “Bring Daisy back, we have the money.” So Daisy was essentially the central animal in the zoo. They had, at that time, a pair of lions from San Diego, some black bears, some monkeys, a lot of birds, particularly birds from this Joseph dealer from Australia. But the elephant was the, in the public mind, this young elephant was the central important creature, identity in the zoo.

01:11:26 - 01:11:36

Let me back up just a minute here. You said he had the land, the zoo was on the land at- Kapi’olani Park.

01:11:36 - 01:11:46

How did that occur that he was able to get this prime land, because it did come with a lot of covenants?

01:11:46 - 01:11:52

Right from the get go, I assume, but how did this get to become zoo land?

01:11:52 - 01:14:14

Well. And was it good or bad in your opinion as you- Oh, it was good because therein lies a marvelous story. Hawaiian politicians were very similar to politicians all over the world. And in 1877, King Kalakaua decreed Kapi’olani Park is now the people’s park, and Kapi’olani Park was named after his wife. That is his statement when he opened the park at the July 4th celebrations in 1877. However, the reality was as dug out the details by a number of authors since that time, Kapi’olani Park, the large part of it, Mark, was actually a real estate development that the king, the royal family owned homes in parts of Kapi’olani Park and other parts of Kapi’olani Park, the king provided land for wealthy residents, British and American, who had made loans to the Government of Hawaii. So it was not unlike what we’ve read about the political structure of Chicago politicians, an area in Kapi’olani Park where the racetrack was, and part of it where the zoo was, was not occupied by these homes. But when the king offered, in 1877, this marvelous park is now for the people, only a tiny part of the park was really for the people.

01:14:14 - 01:15:44

It was for his wealthy friends and their summer homes primarily. But gradually the land was purchased from, due to this ownership situation, and now Kapi’olani Park is 170-something acres of it, of which for the zoo is 42, is all city and county of home of Honolulu. But he didn’t say bill to zoo there. No. As far as all the work that Jean and I have studied, and read every shred of evidence from the newspaper accounts, which were very complete, there were newspaper records on microfilm going way back. The very first records we can find of animals in the park, when Ben Hollinger began in 1914, up to then the only animals in the park were a few peacocks, and I think three imus. Imus that were in the backyard of caretaker and peacocks that presumably were loose. So now we have a zoo.

01:15:44 - 01:16:49

Functioning zoo. Functioning zoo that Ben Hollinger is running, and he ultimately leaves the zoo as his administrator. Ben Hollinger, like many politicians, shifted his interest from the zoo. He was very focused on the zoo for many years. He got a lot of money from 1914, up through the ’20s, he really, during the good times, he got a lot of money for the zoo. And we see in the annual records of the mayor’s office, they built lion cages, they built bear cages, they built aviaries. And then Ben Hollinger, from what we can gather, like many people’s lives, it went through a turmoil time. He got a divorce.

01:16:49 - 01:18:31

He actually, the most violent evidence we have of his behavior is when, in Honolulu City Hall, he got a fist fight on the grounds of City Hall with the then mayor, and they had to be separated. They physically were attacking each other. He was that volatile and explosive a person. So finally he lost his… he was no longer elected to public office. And both the loss of his interest, his focus, his dedication to the zoo, which shriveled when he left, plus tough economic times really were devastating. And what occurred, it’s almost unbelievable that the elephant did as well as it did. Because as money got tighter and tighter, the jobs were scarcer and scarcer, and the people taking care of the zoo, from everything we can gather, there was no civil service.

01:18:31 - 01:20:13

Ben Hollinger had hired a teamster, a person that knew horses to take care of the elephant when she was young. He did well with her, a guy named George Conrad. He would be out of office when new mayors would come in, that political spoiled system that Chicago and other mainland cities are famous for. It occurred in Hawaii also, and it reflected right on down to the zoo itself. As a result, the care of the animal got more and more irregular, new keepers, and this was simultaneously with her getting older, becoming more mature. And say she was five in 1914, by the ’20s, she was becoming more and more unmanageable. Her pavilion, it was more of a concrete stall rather than a, it was more of a sleeping quarters area rather than a real display area. As a consequence to feed her, she was chained into this small area that was covered, and people were permitted to approach and feed her.

01:20:13 - 01:21:49

And the classic results occurred, that one that knows elephants could expect, that she became more and more unmanageable by the keepers. New keepers would come, they’d be afraid of her, and she would swat them. And once the keepers are with their temporary job are swatted a couple of times, then they’d simply throw her food at her, water her with a hose and became terrified of the animal. Now, a remarkable thing happened. One of the keepers had a daughter that was 12, Dorothy was her name. And Dorothy, unlike the male keepers, Dorothy would go in With her dad when her dad would take care of the elephants, Dorothy made friends with her. And finally the father died, the keeper, one of the keepers. And the all of a sudden, the mayor and the park commissioners realized, hey, the only person that could go in with this elephant is this 12-year old kid.

01:21:52 - 01:23:04

And we have a wonderful clipping and a picture of her with Daisy, with this enormous elephant and this half-Hawaiian kid. It was really a poignant thing. So finally, to make this long saga short, I think it probably could be repeated elsewhere in the nation, but the long and the short of it was because of the fact that the elephant was declared unmanageable, the board of supervisors ordered her shot. It was a huge, as expected, public outcry. People that had ridden her as kids, Save Daisy, Save Daisy Campaign. This was in 1933. And in 1933, as you won’t remember, but it was the depths of the depression. Money was very short, jobs were very short.

01:23:06 - 01:24:13

So there was again, the campaign to get money for Daisy, and this time to build her a proper place. So the Save Daisy Campaign was alerted, was established. Her execution was delayed. And in a short two-week time, they re-employed her former keeper, this guy named George Conrad. So George Conrad, he performed a PR stunt. He invited the reporters and the photographers down, and he swung by holding the elephant’s tusks, hung beneath her head, showed he still had control of her, lay on the ground. I have wonderful photos of all this. Lay on the ground and let her put her foot over his head.

01:24:16 - 01:25:58

And four days later, the inevitable, he was walking her, and she did what every elephant person has learned or will learn, for the reasons that the newspapers indicated were inexplicable, unexpected, she hit him with her trunk when he was leading her. She then kneeled on him, impaled him with her short but very heavy tusks, and then stood up over his body and wouldn’t let anybody approach. So the police officers came and shot endless target practice into her body. So that was essentially the death now of both Daisy and the zoo. And there had been particularly due to the shortage of money. The big emphasis of let’s get rid of the mammals. And so with that opening wedge of no more Daisy, the anti-mammal people prevailed and the elephants, I mean, the lions went to Japan, there was a leopard, went to Japan. Black bears went with some show, some circus.

01:26:00 - 01:27:37

The man that owned the Colorado Springs of the Broadmore Hotel and Colorado Springs had a winter home in Hawaii, man named Spencer Penrose. Spencer Penrose was persuaded to take a grizzly bear back on a Matson passenger vessel. The only time I’ve ever heard that we’ve ever been able to find that a large, dangerous, exotic wild animal was taken on one of the Matson passenger ships. But Spencer Penrose was a multimillionaire and he enabled himself to do it. So he took this large grizzly named Bruno back, And simultaneously with this, there was a second phase of the zoo, the zoo was transformed by an incredible promoter. Unlike Ben Hollander, who was 24, this next person who I wish I had known, I’d like to have known Ben, but the next guy is even more important. The next guy is the ultimate promoter. He was a skilled agriculturist.

01:27:37 - 01:29:34

He was a Brit married to a Japanese lady from Japan, and his name, he never liked to use his real first name, his name was Edwin. He liked E.H., his last name was Lewis. E.H. Lewis had developed with the money of a man named Wrigley, who manufactured, the largest chewing gum manufacturer in the nation. Wrigley owned Catalina Island off the coast of LA. Wrigley was interested in birds. When Wrigley became the more than 50% owner of Catalina in the late ’20s, just before the crash of ’29, at the beginning of the depression, he developed Catalina into a huge tourist attraction with passenger ships, hotels, and part of it was to build a bird park. And he did that by the publications that we’ve been able to get from Catalina. He used his own private funds, which must have had a lot of co-mingling with company money, but the board of directors of the Wrigley Corporation had nothing to do with his bird park, were distinct in terms of money.

01:29:34 - 01:31:45

And he employed this fellow, E.H. Lewis who had been a gamekeeper according to the accounts, and I’m suspicious of those accounts, that his lineage was supposed to have been a long line of British professional gamekeepers, to build, in 1928, The Catalina Bird Park. So Mr. Lewis went back and forth to gather birds on Japanese ships from LA to Tokyo, to Jakarta, to Hong Kong, to Singapore. And he’d bring these birds back through Honolulu. The ship would be two days in Honolulu. And Mr. Lewis cultivated, very wise man, very shrewd man, cultivated the power structure of the wives of the businessmen who controlled the financing of the government in Hawaii. And it was through their wives, and the fact that he gained the confidence of the wives by working very cleverly and assiduously with the reporters. And when the ship would come in with all these birds, he made numerous trips for the White Key Bird Park, for the Catalina Bird Park to come through here through Hawaii. He was interviewed, each time he was interviewed, he had one message.

01:31:45 - 01:32:53

This is a marvelous, Honolulu is an ideal place for a bird park. It’s a natural with your tropical plant climate, the lush vegetation, future tourist, booming tourist attraction. It’s absolutely a natural attraction. That’s an ideal location, you should have one. And the ladies agreed with him wholeheartedly. He was aware, through the reporters, of all the difficulties with this unmanageable elephant. Two days before the elephant killed her keeper, Which was in March 3, 1933, he gave a talk. His ship happened to be coming back from Tokyo loaded with birds for the Catalina Bird Park.

01:32:55 - 01:34:26

And he gave a talk that the ladies had arranged for him at the brand new, what’s now the Academy of Arts, and he, again, extolled the merits of the future bird park for Hawaii. And he said, these animals are, he specifically pointed out. They’re not only much more economical to feed and care for, and they’re lovely. But in addition, they are a non-hazardous factor, unlike your elephant, that is more and more unmanageable. Two days after his talk, Daisy killed her keeper. So he had been developing that opportunity, and the opportunity came to him. And less than two years later, in 1935, Wrigley had just died. His supporter, his benefactor, was out of the picture in Catalina.

01:34:26 - 01:35:58

The bird park was built. The bird park, and all of Catalina, and all of the nation was suffering of severe depression. Lewis was a builder, he’d built 400 aviaries, 400 aviaries and Catalina, plus an enormous, huge, what would be considered like a walkthrough, but it wasn’t a walkthrough, people didn’t go in. And this vast collection. But since his supporter had left and he’d, with Wrigley’s death, he’d been cultivating the wives here in Honolulu and the reporters. And despite the fact there was no money, a subcommittee of the Park Board of Honolulu was established to build the Waikiki Bird Park. And it happened, the ladies paid Lewis’ salary. He moved into a tiny cottage on the grounds.

01:36:00 - 01:37:49

And what is truly remarkable, here is this man, probably in his late ’50s, with the much younger Japanese wife, had been paid by the organization of the ladies, had been appointed to that job of superintendent of the Waikiki, newly renamed Waikiki Zoo. The zoo previously had been called Waikiki Zoo, Kapi’olani Park Zoo, never Honolulu Zoo. So Lewis was appointed director or superintendent, they called it, of the Waikiki Bird Park. Less than three months on the job, he organized, through the WPA, he prepared plans for aviaries. He submitted plans for 16 beautifully done aviaries, eight of which are still in existence, that were built with WPA money, and he left on a shoestring, a little bit of money from the city fathers to purchase birds. Not many, not much, mostly money from the ladies. And he and Mrs. Lewis went down to collect birds in Southeast Asia for four whole months. Four months, collecting birds, gathering them up on the Japanese ships.

01:37:50 - 01:39:43

And he had an incredible, huge, this was in the late ’30s, this was, well, the mid ’30s, ’35. He came back to enormous triumph, had Japanese sacred cranes with a letter from the mayor of Tokyo to the mayor of Honolulu. “These cranes are granted to you with the wish of peace,” it was 1935, “Between our nations, and we’re using this letter, the wording in our book, that we basically, we, Japanese, cherish these birds as an important part of our culture, and we hope that you accept them as peace symbols and as the way they’re being presented.” And that was what, six years before they attack on Pearl Harbor. The cranes incidentally thrived. They weren’t put together during the war because of their rarity. The two were separate. One of the first things I did was very carefully put them together, and we raised year after year, after year, we raised either a single or twins from them. And they became one of the key bases when the International Crane Foundation was established in Baraboo by George Archibald and his partner.

01:39:43 - 01:40:11

Well, now let’s get back to- Let’s get back to- and that is that we now have the second, we’ll call him zoo director, at this newly established Waikiki Bird Park, which was the zoo. And now we got this young whipper stamper, Navy guy who is there. And wants to get a job and somehow get a job at this zoo, but you gotta save it first.

01:40:11 - 01:40:22

So here’s the first question that I have, is how did you actually get into this position of zoo director?

01:40:22 - 01:40:32

Because, of course, you had limited experience from the San Diego Zoo. You’d just come out of the- All of a sudden you are bestowed.

01:40:32 - 01:40:36

What did they see or how did that start?

01:40:36 - 01:42:04

And then we’ll get into your time at the zoo. Well, as you’re totally correct. Then in terms of experience, zoo experience being limited to being an assistant reptile keeper, essentially that means cleaning up after a herd of giant tortoises and draining and cleaning alligator pools, and wiping the outside of the glass. Cy Perkins did not trust me as he did not trust any teenagers go in with the venomous reptiles, just the outside of the glass. And then the sight scene bus driver was the only real experience. And then the BA degree, BS degree from the University of Hawaii finally. And answer, the real answer was, again, person to person. The support Of getting to build credibility, that was tricky at 24-years old with that background.

01:42:04 - 01:43:21

But I was audacious too. See, I just had enough experience as a leader in the war. I think in a large measure, it was due to two things. One is the fact that I knew I had the support of Belle Benchley, director of the San Diego Zoo. And she said, I’ll help in any way I can, we’ll help. And the other, Mark, was that wartime experience of being in all those invasions, leading landing craft up on hostile beaches, and sometimes night and day, in (indistinct), for example, four days and four nights with no sleep. It builds way more confidence than any normal 24-year old should have, but I’d had this objective from the time, I knew I was gonna build, I wanted to build a zoo. I knew I wanted to live in Hawaii.

01:43:21 - 01:45:41

So with those two strong focus, strong directed objectives, I was really persuasive with my building those encouraging others, my biology, I mean the head of the zoology department at the university. The people that I knew that remained here as Navy and here being Hawaii, is full-time Navy officers. And with my friends that I had developed as zoo supporters, with my fellow students, a few of them at the university, it is an unlikely story, but we did work from scratch, and mostly I persuaded our park director that I could do it. And he’s now best, he’s a part-Hawaiian, very fine man, came from a long time, Hawaiian family landowners, his name’s Ed Lyons. He became as director under the chief administrator under the park’s board soon after the war, soon after I did. And our mutual friend, his PR lady, Lorraine Cook, introduced us early on. And essentially, that was tied into the dairy offering these Chris Holmes’ animals, the elephant and chimpanzees, and camel, and a few deer and a few monkeys to the park department. So he had to make that decision.

01:45:41 - 01:45:47

Do I accept them or do we say no and have them shipped back to the mainland?

01:45:49 - 01:47:01

So essentially, I was urging him to accept them. And we developed a rapport. He was one of the first persons that believed in my integrity that I could do what I said I’d do. I said, yes, that I’ll do this. We’ll get the help of the San Diego Zoo. They recognized this great opportunity. And he said, “Well, Paul, if we accept the animals, if I urge the park department, park board members to accept the animals, I can’t guarantee you, and we’ll establish a position of zoo director, but it’ll have to be within the civil service structure. And I can’t guarantee that somebody else won’t be appointed.

01:47:01 - 01:47:10

Will you still take care of them out there at the dairy, if the park department accepts the animals?

01:47:11 - 01:48:45

And even if you’re not appointed?” So I of course said, “Absolutely, Mr. Lyons, you can count on me.” And so he urged the park department to accept the animals, and I’d done a few stories in the appearing supporting that. He said it was very open. Come to the park board meetings. And among those stories were, if those are interested, please call. And I got a call from the foremost obstetrician in Hawaii, a guy named Dr. Herbert Bowles. And Herb Bowles came from a long line of Quaker missionaries that had lived in Japan, and had strongly favored the lack, it goes back to people and goes back to history over and over, and over. After December 7th attack by the Japanese, there was, of course, an enormous anti-Japanese feeling throughout the whole nation, not just… And it also occurred in Hawaii and then Hawaii with an enormous proportion of the population.

01:48:45 - 01:50:18

Perhaps a third of the population was of Japanese ancestry, almost all born here. Herb Bowles had grown up in Japan and his folks were Quaker missionaries there. He spoke fluent Japanese. When the Japanese folks, ladies went to that clinic that he worked within, they preferred him because he was a Japanese-speaking obstetrician, even though, not so much that they could talk to him, but that they knew he had strong sensibilities to supporting the Japanese. And then the reason for that is right at the time of the attack, right after the attack, there was this enormous movement to do what occurred all over the whole West Coast of California, of the United States. An enormous relocation, whether you are an American citizen or not. If you were Japanese, many of the American citizens and all of the non-citizens were transferred to so-called relocation centers. There was a strong move that the same thing occur in Hawaii.

01:50:21 - 01:51:11

However, Herb Bowles’ parents and others strongly urged that these Japanese, these citizens, American citizens of Japanese ancestry are strongly patriotic Americans. And just because their folks came from Japan does not mean that they’re not patriotic citizens of this country, and therefore they should remain to help the war effort. They vigorously want to help the war effort on the side of their adopted country of America.

01:51:13 - 01:51:14

So he’s a friend of the zoo?

01:51:14 - 01:52:46

He’s a friend, strong friends of the Japanese population. Because of this, Herb Bowles, he wasn’t a true animal lover, per se. He had some African gray parrots, but mostly he saw the merit of a good zoo. And he became my lifelong friend and his grand children are our neighbors right today. So- He was my strongest supporter in Hawaii and his credibility when he, in answer to your question, Mark, it was Herb Bowles, Dr. Herb Bowle’s credibility that was a very key factor in convincing both the park director, Ed Lyons, and the community through the newspaper, that when Dr. Bowles approved of me, urging, supporting me with the idea that the city acquired these gift animals, that was a beginning. It was kinda like a package deal in a way, except the animals, and by the way, we got a guy who can help you. Absolutely. And these animals are not, there was never the belief in the beginning that these animals are it.

01:52:46 - 01:53:04

These are the nucleus around which we rebuilt, not totally built, rebuilt a marvelous zoo. So you were, ultimately, you beat out all the other candidates if there were any. There weren’t any other candidates.

01:53:04 - 01:53:08

Okay, so at what age were you the director of the Honolulu Zoo?

01:53:08 - 01:53:11


01:53:11 - 01:53:21

But I turned, during that time, I became 25, but so immediately, what do you do?

01:53:21 - 01:55:02

There are the animals. There are these complicated livestock five miles out of town on a dairy. And the dairy says, “Now that we’ve given them to you, please get them off our premises.” At that time, my wife was pregnant with our first child. Well, I, of course, telephoned Mrs. Benchley as soon as the park department accepted the things. And I said, “Okay, they accepted them. What suggestions do you have?” And she said, “Well, you’ve got a lot on your plate at one time. The best thing that we can do at San Diego to help you is to have you request our superintendent of planning and construction, Ralph Verden, who has worked with us many years to come over, design your master plan for your zoo, and at the same time, design specific housing units for the animals that you have gotta build places for. So I said, “That’s wonderful.

01:55:02 - 01:56:31

How long can you let him lose for, can you lend him to us, and how much would it be?” And she said, “I’ll get back to you.” And she did. So I immediately, communication has been the complete key to anything that works. And I think I’m not unique in discovering that, but communication was absolute, immediately and open. And despite the exhilaration of all the new things, we had a lot to accomplish in a hurry. So I went to Ed Lyons, my new boss, who I never called Ed. Just up until the time he died, it was always Mr. Lyons and Mrs. Benchley. Things are different now, and I said, “Wow.” She says that we can borrow, that she will lend her us, and that she got right back to me said, “You can have him for two months and it’ll be X dollars.” And so I told Ed Lyons that and he says, great. He said, “I’ll immediately make this request.

01:56:31 - 01:57:56

Since it’s unbudgeted in our park department budget, we’ll have to get separate funds through the mayor’s office.” And the mayor at that time was an old Hawaiian guy. And he was old more than just because I was only 24. He was in, I’d say 60-something. And he had been mayor in Honolulu in the ’20s when Ben Hollinger, he’d actually been the mayor that had the fist fight with Ben Hollinger back in probably 1920. And here it is, 1947, 27 years later. And so whatever the money that Ralph Verden needed was very small, nothing like paying the Jones and Jones or (indistinct), any of these guys nowadays. It was just basically living expenses, transportation on the ship, on the Matsonian, the Matson cruise liners, and which it took a week, each day. That’s two weeks out of his two months.

01:57:56 - 01:59:09

So we basically would have him, and he had to get back before, early in the year. So, Mark, it dragged on, and every day, I didn’t mind at all. I went out every morning, twice a day, to feed and water the elephants and the chimpanzees, and worry about them. And I’d take my then very pregnant wife along with me, and we got to know the elephant and try to figure out how to move her. And we built a special trailer for her and built a temporary pen of railroad rails and telephone poles to house her because she was a, probably since she was right on this roadway, through the dairy, we could close off the chimpanzees a bit in front of their wire and barred area, but we couldn’t close off the elephant. She’d have her chin over the cattle fence all the time.

01:59:11 - 01:59:35

So finally, the money was delayed and delayed, and delayed, and so I said to Ed Lyons, “Mr. Lyons, we’re using up our two months is all we’ve got and let’s, what can we do?

01:59:35 - 02:01:15

How do we speed things up to get the okay on the funding?” And looking back on it, of course, the funding was a very small amount, but a very crucial timing small amount. So this is an example of Ed Lyon’s skill as an administrator. Here, I am a resident of Hawaii, less than a year, no Hawaiian ties, except those I just developed during my short time here. And he said, you go down with Mayor Wilson and you explain to him. He said, “I’ve discovered that the supervisors have approved that budget request for the San Diego Zoo planner to come. You go down to Mayor Wilson and explain the urgency and tell him.” And I said, “Gosh, Mr. Lyons, you’ve known him for years.” And he said, “No.” I said, “Please, you do it.” And he said, “No, you’ve made the arrangement. You go tell him about the arrangements and why it’s important.” So he said, “I’ve just called his secretary and she’s expecting you to call,” so I did. And she set up an appointment the next morning.

02:01:16 - 02:03:06

Things don’t happen that way very often nowadays. So I met with the mayor. So I had enough sense to ask him a few, He naturally asked, “Well, what are you up to and what do you want, young man?” And I was very short. And I said, “We have this opportunity and we need that money approved.” And he said, “Oh, yes, it’s right here.” He said, “I’ve been looking at it and wondering about it.” And then he said, “My wife keeps peacocks.” And I didn’t know that, I hadn’t done my homework, and that was a good lesson. And so I said, “Oh, really?” He said, “Yes, she’s got about 30-something birds in our backyard, and she’d raised them all from one pair that she got when we moved here from Moloka’i in 1924. And she knows, she’s given each one its own name, and she knows their personalities.” And he said, “I’d like you someday to get to look at our birds.” And I of course said, “Yes, Mayor Wilson. I’d be very happy to do that.” And so he approved it that same day.

02:03:08 - 02:03:23

I called Mrs. Benchley and said, “Tell Ralph to buy his tickets and get on the first ship.” Now, can I jump ahead for a bit?

02:03:23 - 02:04:40

I will, Mark. That was ’47. The mayor died a few years later. That was his last term in office. According to his biographer, he had 37 cents in his pocket. He was always giving, both of himself and of his money. His widow, he never had any children, his widow was, the mayor was probably half-Hawaiian, his widow was full-Hawaiian, and Jenny, we all called her. So after the mayor died, the lease on their land, in a suburb that was unoccupied land of Honolulu, they needed the land back, the landowner.

02:04:42 - 02:07:16

She was essentially being evicted. So The mayor’s friends after he died called me and said, “Paul, you know Aunt Jenny’s got those 30-something peacocks out there. Will you buy them for the zoo?” And I said to the mayor’s friend, Arthur, I said, “Arthur, I’d like to, but I know that we’ve got enough peacocks, the zoo resident peacocks gonna just chase them over the fence to Wakiki Beach and the hotels.” I said, “I’ll find you buyers, I’ll find Aunt Jenny buyers, and I’ll help her get relocate the birds, ’cause I know how important the bird’s welfare is to her, but I can’t get them for the zoo.” So I called two people, and I continued to build credibility, Mark, particularly with the reporters and with favorable newspaper stories. And even though I wasn’t on a social frequent communication with the power structure, it was enough of a relationship that I could pretty well accomplish what I needed to accomplish. So I called two people, one, a guy that was developing a hotel on Kauai that was having a few animals, and he’d asked me about getting water buffalo for it. And I said, I explained to him that the situation with Aunt Jenny and her lease expiring and her supporters wanting to put her in a rest home, ’cause she was 80-something and had arthritis, and was getting too old to take care of her birds. And particularly she was being evicted. And so I said, “Will you take half of them?” And he said, “Sure.” “And will you pay her this?” He said, “Sure.” And this was a nice inflated price.

02:07:16 - 02:09:03

And then I went to another guy that was a developer and later bought huge area, he actually bought the Ilikai Hotel, they built it. That’s a hotel that in Hawaii Five-O, Steve McGarrett, that’s his hotel. But anyhow, so that friend was building a resort on a walk. So he said, “sure, I’ll take the other half.” So my year-old daughter and I drove up, down Jenny’s, and up this dusty road, and oh, she was so happy when we said “We’ve got your birds sold, Aunt Jenny, and what I’ll do, I’ll come up every day. I’ll take off from the zoo, I’ll take time off, ’cause this really is not, I just want to devote it to the birds, your birds.” And so I took time off because it wasn’t a real zoo job and I was totally indebted to the mayor. Now you got these birds for her, you’re helping her out. You’ve got this, you managed the deal, you’re quite the deal maker. You managed the deal to get the guy from the San Diego Zoo.

02:09:03 - 02:09:10

Yeah. To come back into Honolulu to build your master planner development so forth.

02:09:10 - 02:09:12

Did you have any idea?

02:09:13 - 02:09:17

Now tell me about… He’s there, he’s helping you out.

02:09:17 - 02:09:24

Did you have any idea of how you’re gonna actually get money now to build what he is giving you?

02:09:24 - 02:10:28

Actually, as you well know nothing succeeds like success. And every time there was a favorable announcement, and any time anything happened, we made stories, newspaper stories. I went out on a tug boat, nobody knew this hardly, but there was a special tug that met the passenger liners offshore. The big white liners have come off Waikiki, off Diamond Head. They’d lie to, and the passengers would watch the surfboard guys surfing in and all the canoes going in to Waikiki Beach. And meanwhile, the tug was primarily for reporters. But if you knew people, you could get on it. By them, I knew enough people that it existed.

02:10:28 - 02:11:41

So I went out with the reporters and on the way out, this is typical, Mark. I told the reporters, “Okay.” They said, “What are you doing here, essentially?” And I said, “Well, I’m meeting this guy from San Diego who’s gonna design the zoo so we’ve got a place to put those animals,” at which they were well aware of that the city had just accepted. And so we got off the tug, we’re lifted onto the ship when the ship lined to. There was a big door just above sea waterline on the ship. And then, so I had the delays, gave the carnation and preliminaries to Ralph. I’d known Ralph slightly before, gave him to Ralph and his wife Agnes. And then the reporters for the two Honolulu papers, I introduced to Ralph and Agnes. And that was essentially one more step.

02:11:41 - 02:13:45

So they did great coverage, not only for the Honolulu papers, but for the San Diego Union. And an answer to your question, I think that one sentence is the best answer. The credibility, the integrity, the fact that, essentially, we were filling a need that was favorable. It was part of civic pride. The same business of building, rebuilding a zoo that had withered away to a handful of goats and monkeys, and still a remnant fine bird collection that had been maintained during the war in the face of huge shortages of food for the birds and manpower. All sorts of problems were faced during the shortage of food that the man that, the caretaker, Lewis, at the time of the war was in Canada, so he never came back. So the Waikiki Bird Park essentially just status quoed, and the caretaker during the war worked really hard to maintain the birds, and he did a fine job, and many, many birds survived during those four war years. Cassowaries, cranes, some cockatoos.

02:13:48 - 02:15:32

But in terms of building the zoo, one technique, Mark, the humane society here was a reasonable group compared to many of the animal activists, by here, I mean in Honolulu, of course. They were long established, they were run and wealthy run by, and managed by a pair of sisters that did the tire support of the financial support, and actually participated. One of the ladies rode a horse and had a whip. And many of their first animal cruelty situations were dealing with Hawaiian residents that had horses that were not being treated properly. But humane society had opposed getting the animals that were the gift animals, on the basis that, hey, the zoo went to pieces before, it wasn’t properly run. Therefore just send those animals to the mainland. So they were always hovering, waiting to be critical. It wasn’t a complete green light.

02:15:33 - 02:16:34

So I had to be very cautious. Cautious is the wrong word. I had a plan as well as possible to get animals that were hardy, the really delicate forms, Rarity wasn’t a critical thing. I wanted to get hardy adaptable animals that would do well. That wouldn’t have a series of deaths in the paper. For example, getting black (indistinct) from San Diego rather than (indistinct). And I had, again, the advantage, even though I knew virtually nothing about antelope, I had advantage of the San Diego tie. Again, I saved my salary.

02:16:34 - 02:17:08

I’d go down and fly down and do quick visits to, on my own money, our own money, family money, our salary, to familiarize myself with, essentially a crash course how to run a zoo, build a zoo. Okay, we’re talking about with your own money, you started to get a crash, use your money to kind of do what you said, a crash course in zoo management.

02:17:08 - 02:17:11

And does that mean you’re traveling to the mainland?

02:17:11 - 02:17:13

And where did you go and why?

02:17:13 - 02:19:01

Yes, one of the unique things that we had going for us, a very special condition was occurring. Remember the timeframe here, it’s right after, it’s the year after World War II is over. All of a sudden, those penned-up demands of those five, four war years where zoos could get almost no livestock from either Southeast Asia or Africa, with the difficulties of shipping. All of a sudden that pen up demand could be met. And in addition to that demand was the fact that air travel before the war, PanAm ran planes, amphibian planes down to that Manila clipper, they called it. They had sleepers on board, they were very slow, but that was the first real air transportation. It was still ships. And then after the war, the planes, the cargo aircraft that had been developed, the biggest cargo aircraft that came into use was the strata cruisers, which were essentially modified B-29 bombers that were used in dropping the atom bomb.

02:19:03 - 02:20:44

And all of a sudden, instead of having… if you’re shipping baby elephants, orangs, tigers, all of the monkeys, all of the animals from Southeast Asia, no longer had to get on a ship and have a long circuitous route from Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, wherever they were originating. They had a long way on the ocean to go to get to America on a ship. And there were many losses. It was very difficult, particularly with produce such as fresh produce for the, for example, leaf-eating monkeys. But at any rate, all of a sudden, the demand for animals for US zoos could be met by animals, particularly the ones I’m familiar with, are the Southeast Asia sources. Either of Southeast Asia or Australia, or Northern Asia with Japan. And all of a sudden Hawaii, at the so-called crossroads of the Pacific, was in a completely key situation.

02:20:46 - 02:21:32

The airlines were growing like mushrooms across the Pacific. And that demand was being met by shipments by dealers. But primarily the ones that I was involved with were mostly with friends that had zoos and almost entirely the San Diego Zoo and the Sydney Zoo. And I want to talk about that in detail, but I just wanna bring you back to you took your own money and you went to visit zoos to learn about zoo management.

02:21:32 - 02:21:34

Does that mean you went to the mainland?

02:21:34 - 02:23:18

Yes, and the way that worked, primarily the San Diego Zoo was essential. 80% of everything I did with mainland zoos was the San Diego Zoo. They were my friends, I was low on funds among other things, so I stayed as a house guest at Chuck Shaw’s, the reptile man, George Purnell, the mammal curator, or particularly K.C. Lin, K.C., the bird curator and his wife, Marie, were long-time friends. They would stay with us when they would come to Hawaii and we would stay with them. And well, as a family, we couldn’t stay with them because their house was too small, but they would put me up in the couch, down with his prize cockatiels. But the way that worked out, simultaneously, our zoo grew. And as we developed the nucleus animals, the elephant, the chimpanzees and the camel were just that, nucleus animals. So obviously, if you have a single animal, you want to have family groups, which was one of our primary objectives.

02:23:18 - 02:25:12

And that was a goal that Mrs. Benchley particularly emphasized, get reading family groups. So early on after, the first requirement was to get the additional, an elephant as a companion to the one that we just acquired by gift. We didn’t need more chimpanzees, we needed another camel, a Bactrian camel to round out the pair. But then Mrs. Benchley and I would talk and she would, and then I’d say, “Okay, we’ve done so well with your help so far, what animals do you recommend next?” And she’d say, “Well,” she did say, “You know, Paul, what’s gonna happen is I strongly recommend giraffes.” And I said, “Gosh, aren’t they awfully expensive and difficult to ship?” Yes on both accounts. However, there’s a big shortage of giraffes right now. Very few zoos have any, or have breeding pairs. The ones that are in zoos are getting over their breeding years, and we have one of the few breeding pairs. I’ll save you a current young giraffe if you wish to develop a herd or a breeding group of giraffes.

02:25:12 - 02:26:30

And you’ve asked what I recommend, and I can recommend that really strongly for several reasons. One is they’re going to have to be imported from Africa, and they’re going to have to come through our quarantine stations here on the East Coast, it’s up in New Jersey, And they’re gonna be limited to official zoos, private folks. And there’s a big rumor they’re gonna be private zoos, private animal parks opened by commercial organizations, agencies. There’s going… and they can’t get the permits. And the stations in Africa are limited. The quarantine station in Mombasa is now not approved by the USDA. And when it is approved, they can only get so many animals at a time. And New York, New Jersey Quarantine Station can only take a few at a time.

02:26:30 - 02:28:47

There’s gonna be a big demand for giraffes, it’s going to be slow to be met, because remember, giraffes usually only have one child, one baby at a time, and they have a long gestation. So it’s a slow process of creating a herd of giraffes. So I recommend you get those. And you can begin with this, the animal that we have here, that our young male that was born recently. So I said, “Great. So we’ll design, that’ll be the next thing we build after the simultaneously with our elephant pen, our permanent elephant pen, the permanent chimpanzee place and the camel place.” Fortunately camels are easy, but… And as a result, the first animals that we got in addition to replay an elephant as a companion and the camel was a giraffe. In 1949, less than two years after I’d been in the job, we made our first of seven trips to the mainland to bring back animals. Now, to do this required an organization that on the West Coast, we had the San Diego, had two agency, two groups, the San Diego Zoo from which we got the giraffe, the camel and some sea lions, because that was another recommendation that Mrs. Benchley made and which we built a sea land pool and a giraffe pen as the first units beyond the gift animals.

02:28:49 - 02:28:50

So where’d we get the elephants?

02:28:50 - 02:30:45

Well, Louis Goebel and his wife, Kathy, at Thousand Oaks, California, which is 50 miles north of LA, now huge booming suburb of LA. At that time, it was a tiny rural area that was essentially among other things, a movie set for westerns. And with the rolling hills covered with live oaks, and Louis Goebel had an establishment called the Goebel Land Farm. And she said, “Louis is a fine,” Mrs. Benchley said he’s a fine honest animal dealer that you will be able to trust. And he is the source, he’s bringing in young elephants from Bangkok, and he should be the source for your companion elephant for the one that you’ve just received as a gift. So I began to communicate by telephone and letter with Louis Goebel. And Louis became a lifelong family friend and an enormous support. And it was through Louis and the San Diego Zoo that we were able to be truly effective in getting animals for our zoo, because Louis with his animal farm in Thousand Oaks had the facilities, both for holding animals and for transporting them.

02:30:45 - 02:32:21

He had trucks, he had a knowledgeable staff, and so we ordered an elephant from Louis. The elephant, as I recall, was $4,000, the same price as the giraffe from San Diego Zoo. And we came over, and I was still only 25, just 26, I guess. And it was a trial by fire. It was a crucible situation for me, primarily because it was Honolulu’s first giraffe. But the most important thing that made it stressful was the fact that the giraffe had grown. We were greatly delayed in building the giraffe enclosure, even though it was a simple enclosure, concrete, with the 12-foot chain link fence, was the fact that there was a long shipping stripe. the ILWU extended its range from the plantations to the peers, and Harry Bridges was very active at that time in the union organization, and his lieutenants in the ILWU Union in Honolulu had a strike that, to them, was hugely critical.

02:32:22 - 02:33:45

That they were determined to show their strength and establish their power in the islands. And the shipping strike, 90 days is what I recall. Maybe it was longer, but it delayed construction. It backed up, our giraffe pen was delayed way more than the length of the strike. So by the time we got to California to get the giraffe, this animal that was in say 12 feet, when we was up to 15 was… Wait, oh, the animal, with the trailer, it was 15 feet. So he would, the trailer was a foot and a half, low bed trailer. And at that time, there were no freeways to LA from San Diego to get to the pier, from the San Diego Zoo up to the Los Angeles Harbor, had to go under Santa Fe railway bridge.

02:33:45 - 02:35:19

And that was a critical thing because the bridge was just slightly would clear the crate of the animal on the trailer, but the animal’s head came about a foot and a half above the crate. And that was as close to a military operation as we ever achieved for our zoo, whatever was necessary to achieve. Because we did as far, as much advanced planning as possible. It came to the coast, went to San Diego, arranged, looked at the trailer, looked at the, they’d rented the lowest low bed trailer they could get and had the crate. So everything was just slightly under the 15 feet, Which was the clearance at the railway bridge up by Carlsbad, just below Camp Pendleton, along the coast highway. There was no other way that we could, other route that was practical. We had to do that route. So what we had to do was train the animal to lower its head underneath the railway bridge.

02:35:20 - 02:36:47

And the man that did that training was a old circus hand named Gabe Davis. Gabe Davis had been with the Ring Brothers in Barnum and Bailey Circus with their elephants and their livestock, including giraffes for many years, and then he’d settled and was a head keeper at the San Diego Zoo at the time. And Gabe, his family was the zoo. He was a beloved typical heart of gold old circus hand that had knew all the tricks. He knew (indistinct), he knew animal behavior from the practical standpoint. And he had been training this giraffe to lower its head by hand feeding it its favorite food. And its favorite food was onions, big, round, softball-sized, tennis ball-sized onions cut in half. He’d feed them one half onion at a time.

02:36:48 - 02:37:45

And he’d use, “Rusty, lower your head. Steady, Rusty.” He’d use those terms over and over and he’d keep feeding rusty these half of onions. And then we’d put Rusty into the crate. He moved back the trailer up to the barn. It was easy to get rusty to go into the crate because he was adapted to eating the, to trusting the trainer or Gabe Davis. And he went into the crate and they sealed, closed the doors and secured them. Rusty was a big giraffe at that time. He got a lot bigger, but he was way larger than we wanted to have him to be shipping, but we were stuck.

02:37:46 - 02:38:54

So we went on the trailer, and Gabe Davis rode on the ladder that was attached to the outside of the trailer. We had the two police cars, one police car from the San Diego Zoo accompanied us. It was the San Diego head of security. He was our message center. Frank Benet was the guy’s name, retired police officer. Two motorcycle policemen went ahead of us, and most important, a crew from the San Diego Gas and Electric accompanied us ahead. And we had a pole that was the length of the giraffe’s head and big wires. The electric wires were movable, and the crew would lift the wires up ahead of us with their lift trucks.

02:38:56 - 02:40:23

And we would very slowly drive beneath them. And they were far enough above so the giraffe couldn’t lick them, which they seem to be enormously attractive to giraffes, to lick electric wires or anything above their head. That fortunately, that part went well. The difficult part was the Santa Fe railroad bridge. So we knew that if the train went over the bridge at the time that we were under the bridge, that the chances were very great, that Rusty would rear his head in fear and shock and hit his skull on the bridge, and we well knew that giraffes and zoos had done this and broken their horns and bled to death. And that was a fear that I did not, that was a concern that I was very fearful of. And I had nightmares trying to overcome that. And we were totally dependent on the trust that Gabe had built with this giraffe.

02:40:25 - 02:41:45

So we had taken the precaution to contact the Santa Fe railway, arranged with their train master to have no trains to be under going under the bridge. There wasn’t much traffic on that route, and what traffic there was the railway company agreed not to run the trains over the bridge at the time that we were going to be under it. So Frank Benet and his radio car was able to communicate with the train scheduler in LA. So we knew the train wasn’t coming. The police officers could stop traffic in all directions, both coming and going, so there was no auto traffic. And we went to the side of the road that was the very lowest under the bridge, which is, I recall was the other side, the people coming from north to south. So we did everything mechanically that we could to take advantage of the maximum clearance. And we were entirely dependent on Gabe.

02:41:45 - 02:43:06

So Gabe was at the top of the crate, hanging onto the ladder. I was handing Gabe, I was doing, I had two functions. To hand Gabe more onions, they were chopped. And to relay, I was below Gabe on the tray, relay the instructions from Gabe to the truck driver when to move ahead and how. And then we slowly approached the bridge. We stopped, the side of the bridge, Rusty smelled the bridge, sniffed at it a bit, looked around, adjusted to the bridge and then gave, fed him the onions. And he motioned me, tell the driver slowly ahead. And we crept that whatever it was, 50 feet, 60 feet under the railroad bridge, And Rusty kept his head down.

02:43:06 - 02:44:43

Gabe continued, just as he had trained him, “Steady, Rusty, steady, head down, head down,” and we got under that bridge successfully. And that was the biggest breakthrough in that whole trip. Because from then on, we got on the ship. It was in the winter, it was November. The ship rolled and pitched and Rusty did well in the rolling and the pitching, he could adapt to that in the crate, but getting under that bridge was the, really, one of the most critical steps in my career, ’cause my credibility was at, again, that was the first real test. Up to then, no matter how good a proposal I would explain to people, moving the animals from the dairy was not a breakthrough. The real breakthrough was that shipment. It was just the day before Thanksgiving, and it was a terrible fog, and it was so such a severe fog that I have the Honolulu clippings, “Worst Fog to Hit West Coast”.

02:44:44 - 02:46:24

And simultaneously was up, going up from San Diego to Los Angeles Harbor. Louis was coming down with his trucks, Louis Goebel from Goebel Land Farm up in Thousand Oaks with our elephant. And this is where the term that you hear now is networking. Animal dealers had sent, Warren Buck had sent us, as part of the shipment, a half a dozen golden spider monkeys. He shipped them from New Jersey by air to LA. Louis had gone, sent a truck 50 miles into the airport at LA to pick up our shipment of spider monkeys, take them back to his compound and bring them back down to the ship with us. Fred Stark who ran the San Antonio Zoo had shipped us a lot of water birds, white pelicans, three cattle herons to the San Diego Zoo, and we’d put them aboard there. And then we had the sea lions from San Diego.

02:46:26 - 02:47:46

And we’d gone previously to arrange all the military experience that I’d acquired on ships in the Navy and unloading troops. Came to good stead in this because we’d gone ahead, I’d gone ahead, talked to the Matson people. We negotiated a big shed that had a high enough roof where we could gather all the animals next to the ship. And I’d specifically gone down to the forklift drivers, and I’ve learned, it’s held me in great, good fortune ever since that time. Make a personal, the personal contact that has been so successful and has worked. I talked to the forklift drivers as we arrived, Before they unloaded the trucks with their huge forklifts. And I, despite the noise of the… we were right alongside the freighter, the freighter was already loading.

02:47:48 - 02:49:03

And the noise of the winches and the pulleys, and were screeching. And I talked to each of the two forklift drivers and I said, “Hey fellas, please be really careful of these crates of animals. Two things, go real slow, don’t bang them, and the other, that giraffe could move in that crate, don’t trust it. Before you lift it, tie it securely. Lash it down with chains because he can lunge at either end and knock the crate and himself off onto the ground. And the same goes for the elephant.” And with that personal contact, the guys said, sure, and took them a little longer time, but they did it. We unloaded all the livestock, and then we all got together. Frank Benet, the security guy from San Diego Zoo, Louis and Kathy Goebel and their drivers.

02:49:05 - 02:49:59

And I was with the one of our animal keeper foreman, Gary (indistinct), he accompanied on that trip to help, and the truck driver of our truck and Gabe Davis. And we all had, I said, “Hey, folks, let’s have a quick celebration here, a pre-Thanksgiving celebration. And I want to thank you all for the safe manner in which you brought these animals together up here. And that I personally, greatly appreciate it, and so will the kids and their parents in Honolulu. Now, of course, that’s only half the story. Now you’ve got the animals on the ship. That was the easy bed part.

02:49:59 - 02:50:02

So now you’ve got the animals on the ship, and how many people?

02:50:02 - 02:50:31

It’s yourself and someone. Just one other guy. But the main thing is, you see, on the ship also, I had the rapport with the people on the ship. And the ship happened to had been the identical ship that I was on, the same class ship that I was on in the Navy because Matson had bought them, war surplus from the Navy. So I knew those ships. How many days was the voyage- Only a week, only a week.

02:50:31 - 02:50:35

And you were responsible for the care of those animals for one week?

02:50:35 - 02:51:11

Feeding and watering- Oh, but that part, after going under that bridge, the bridge was the hard part, I tell you. That was the part that was totally entirely in the hands of Gabe Davis and his skill as an animal trainer, and that would’ve, giraffe being bleeding to death in that crate would’ve been as devastating as an event I would ever anticipate. Short zoo director career. For a brand new zoo director. Ignominious start that would’ve been, but it worked great.

02:51:11 - 02:51:13

But the voyage?

02:51:13 - 02:52:06

The voyage was at, again, November. It was storming as the Pacific very often is, in November. But not that bad, the ship rolled a lot. But the main thing is I knew that ship. And again, since it was the same whole type, 500-foot long, C3 Navy transport. So just back of the super structure is a central part of the ship. So when the ship rolls and… It’s basically the center of the fulcrum of the playground seesaw.

02:52:06 - 02:53:02

You’re in the middle. So whatever action, either rolling or pitching, you’re as stable as you’re ever gonna be in that center part of the ship, just so-called after the superstructure. And we put the animals, the tricky, the ones, particularly Rusty, right in the very center. So his action would not be accentuated, the action of the ship would, he would get the least movement. It would’ve been the ideal place for a person if you wanted not to be seasick. But the trip worked, we got to Honolulu, everything. The Honolulu one was only seven miles and we knew the route. And we did it in reverse, we went at night.

02:53:02 - 02:54:16

At that time, they were trolleys of rubber-tired trolley, buses, and what they did was turn the electricity off on their electric, the conductors that that would power the electric motors. And the electric company guys met us and the police officers. And everybody was just happy as clams to see their first giraffe. And he was impressive. We got, at first weekend, I don’t recall, but that first year, our attendance was over 600,000. And the population in Honolulu, and that was almost no tourists. That was almost all residents. And we had to estimate that because we had no, there was no admission charge and we had counters, but it was not a specific count per person, but the population of Honolulu in ’47, well, this was ’49, was a little more than a quarter of a million.

02:54:16 - 02:54:54

So basically three times the population of the city in that year, which is interesting. It’s almost the same attendance right today. And Honolulu has tripled in size and we have 7 million tourists a year. I have one kind of technical question and I don’t want to lose it here. And that is, at the zoo, there are, as I was at the zoo, there are some extraordinary banyan trees. They’re magnificent. Do you know anything about, and it seems that landscaping was important to the zoo, ’cause it’s very, some very mature trees there.

02:54:54 - 02:54:57

Do you know anything about the history of those particular banyan trees?

02:54:57 - 02:54:59

They just were there for hundreds of years and they grew?

02:54:59 - 02:55:02

You planted them? You saw them planted?

02:55:02 - 02:55:06

And how important was landscaping in the zoo to you?

02:55:06 - 02:57:02

Well, the landscaping in our zoo is one area that we have an enormous opportunity, and it’s an opportunity that we have met unlike the total potential that the zoo has, which is enormous. Also with the landscaping, it has been achieved. And the trees that are there, the banyans that the visitors see, were planted during King Kalakaua’s time in 1870 and 1880s. And there were Indian, the biggest ones were Indian banyans, benghalensis, that have multiple aerial roots that become huge trunks and enable the tree to be expansive. And as part of this, I don’t wanna use the word scheme, but I think that’s the best expression, the most accurate as part of this proposal To have Kapi’olani Park developed into home sites for Hawaiian royalty and their friends, their wealthy friends. A man named Clayhorn, Archibald Clayhorn was a horticulturist from Scotland. And Clayhorn was a remarkable guy. He came here with his dad and mother, and they started a hardware store.

02:57:04 - 02:59:03

And Archie was a hard worker. Father died when Archibald was 18. Archibald continued the store, became friendly with the King Kalakaua, married the king’s younger sister, Miriam, who owned a great deal of land and some homes in this Kapi’olani area. And one of Archibald Clayhorn’s achievements was planting the banyan trees that exist today in both the Kapi’olani Park and where a hotel called the Princess Kaiulani exists. And the princess Kaiulani was, is on Waikiki Beach, and it’s built on Clayhorn’s property. Because out of his, during his marriage to Princess Miriam, who was Kalakaua’s youngest sister, they had a daughter, Queen Kaiulani or Princess Kaiulani, and Princess Kaiulani had two things, two animals that had a relationship with our zoo. One, she had a giant tortoise. Giant tortoises are collected by the whalers in the Galapagos and carried a board for food.

02:59:03 - 03:00:20

And some were brought ashore as trading material with the, and they were prized by the Hawaiian royalty as pets in their garden. And in addition, she was very fond of peacocks. And Princess Kaiulani was fond of both peacock and a white Jasmine that’s native to China. And to this day, that flower is called pikaki. And nobody knows, but it’s, because she liked, there was a strain of white peacocks as we zoo folks know. And some were, those were brought and she had the pet peacock, both the blues and the whites. Pictures of her will appear in our book, feeding the peacocks in her garden. But she was ill-fated and died of a pneumonia from when she was in her 20s.

03:00:22 - 03:00:41

She was sort of the hope of Hawaiian royalty and that hope died when she died too. Now, Paul, when you talked about her, you were a bit emotional about it. And earlier we talked about Aunt Jessie, Jenny. You’re right, Jenny. You were a bit emotional about that.

03:00:41 - 03:00:44

Why were you emotional when you talked about Aunt Jenny?

03:00:45 - 03:03:22

Oh, that’s kind of a tough thing to discuss, is why… And part of it, the people in Hawaii, particularly those of a Hawaiian ancestor have been very, very good to me. And I’ve done my best, Mark, to provide a good zoo, to get professional help, to build the zoo, design the zoo with Ms. Benchley’s help by sending Ralph Verden over to make the layout, the three avenues in Waikiki that delineate the zoo. But Hawaiian people particularly, well, one thing is even though the Hawaiians and part Hawaiians only represent a relatively small percentage of the population of Hawaii today, a number of them are in positions. Hawaiians have been noted orators for long, and very skilled, and they’ve been… Many of, they followed professional politicians and leadership that… A sizable percentage of the political leaders in Hawaii have been a part of Hawaiian ancestry, and they always gave me a great deal of support. And I think that that support, it wasn’t to me, it was for them to build civic pride in their community by having good zoo and by supporting a good zoo, and so essentially supporting me.

03:03:28 - 03:04:11

It’s not that other folks didn’t support the zoo, it’s just that Hawaiian people have always been particularly warm and affectionate toward their zoo, very emotional. It’s a tricky relationship there. And of course, the zoo is on the site of the original park established by King Kalakaua. So that’s a historic tie in there.

03:04:13 - 03:04:28

Okay, first question here is, what would you say were specific challenges and differences that only occur having a zoo on an island as opposed to the mainland?

03:04:28 - 03:04:34

And is there any kind of an island mentality about running a zoo?

03:04:34 - 03:07:41

Not, what would be different about running a zoo, that I’ve found on an island, which incidentally is the farthest away from the mainland of any island group, it’s about 2,500 miles from the nearest land, which is the whole West Coast. I think the biggest part of it is mentality, but the biggest thing is that we share, and the islands governors have observed this. We share a little bit of a underlying and inferiority feeling that we’re a bit of an insular mentality that it isn’t expressed often, but in such times as state of the state address by the governor, and perceptive statesmen in Hawaii have observed this, that we’ve got a, in many cases, we’re way ahead of other groups. We’re particularly ahead in the areas that you read about with the racial harmony, and we have less disharmony than any place else in America, nothing is perfect, but there’s more intermarriage and there’s more communities that are not in any way divided racially. They’re divided economically, but not racially. But in running a zoo in an island, one technicality that we’re facing way more than mainland zoos is the fact that because of the huge vulnerability to Hawaii, with the semi-tropical climate, that it’s such an easy place for many animals to establish a foothill, a foot hold and become established. And that’s where, for example, we’re so fearful of the brown tree snake. So pet stores, if you’re familiar with mainland pet stores, you’ll see exceedingly limited amount of species in a pet store in Honolulu.

03:07:43 - 03:09:27

First of all, snakes alone as a whole group, are totally prohibited based on a state law that was established way back in Hawaii, it was a territory. And my successor Jack Throp enabled that law to be revised to zoo only, two only, males only, non-venomous only. But we’re a rabies-free island, which is unique, particularly unique in the state, in the mainland. It’s the only state that is rabies-free. And so we have a strict, formally, it was a tight quarantine. Now it’s a looser quarantine combined with the proper number than the sequence of vaccinations that people can bring dogs in with a very short, I think just an overnight observation. We have very few restrictions for the zoo though. Pretty much everything that a normal zoo would have, we could have, with the exception of the snakes.

03:09:27 - 03:12:08

And there, we’ve designed an intermediate situation whereby mammals, such as mere cats and fruit bats are permitted, zoo only, with, not for pets, with males only. And with that proviso, the zoo gets to display them to the public at the same time, if a Vandal breaks open their enclosure at night and they escape, they’re not a breeding population, yep. You had talked about, when you talked with Belle Benchley, you said to her, you know, I could help be helpful with the shipments that are coming to Hawaii, and I would look after them and help them move towards your zoo, where she had indicated that. And you said, yeah, we’re in a good position to do it. Because of the zoo’s location, work ties closer to Asia and Australia than to other US zoos and- Absolutely, and I think that one of the really important use of my energy that produced greater goodwill and greater actual benefit to the zoo in terms of rare specimens, the acquisitions, and cooperation in terms of building structures came about by caring for the animals in route. For example, right after the same time I began, right after World War II in ’47, Sir Edward Halstrom, who, at that time before he was knighted, he was a president of the Toronto Park Zoological Trust in Sydney that runs the big zoo in Sydney. He was a businessman. Sir Edward met, came to California, met Mrs. Benchley and established a long range exchange program.

03:12:08 - 03:13:25

They already back to the ’20s, they were exchanging from San Diego and Honolulu as, and also to Sydney. But Sir Edward was able to establish it on a much more secure basis for the two reasons. One, he formalized it because he was able to, because he was, at that time, he was reputed to be the wealthiest man on the continent of Australia. And two, with the great increase of air freight shipments, two down under from the mainland. So he was able to bring a very large number of animals from Australia to the mainland. Most of the going back had to be on a ship because of OC regulations. But this cap, Sir Edward, was our zoo’s single greatest private benefactor. And from a public relations standpoint, it was just incredibly important step for us because you asked about financing.

03:13:26 - 03:14:44

It’s always easier if private entities are providing funds that essentially seed money. And this is what Sir Edward, as our benefactor, enabled us to do. He gave a large number of birds, particularly birds of paradise. Many, many birds, kangaroos, cockatoos, rare, expensive cockatoos. Major Mitchell’s cockatoos of, many pairs of them, black palm cockatoos. But the key thing, he became a close friend and one of my powerful mentors. And Sir Edward made many trips back and forth from Australia to the mainland. And the way he was an industrialist, and he’s mentioned in two popular books that zoo people could read.

03:14:44 - 03:16:44

One of them is Emily Hahn was the author of a book called “Animal Gardens”, which is about zoo directors. And she mentioned that Sir Edward Holstrom was, of all the directors that she interviewed, which are maybe two dozen for this book, traveled all over the world, he had the most original mind, and he truly did. The other author of Jim Michener mentions in his book, “Tales of the South Pacific”, he mentions it’s about one of Sir Edward’s interest, which is the a final preserve in the central highlands of New Guinea. It’s about a mile high in a place called Nandago, where he had more than 80 aviaries, beautifully planted aviaries with no visitors. Almost nobody gets there. And when I was there in 1960, the residents, the employees were… It was just when they were picking up western clothing dress. And it was when loin claws and grass skirts, and no shirts for either gender were the uniform of the day, where the men were still carrying bows and arrows, and spears when they walked about the village.

03:16:47 - 03:18:17

But that was a wonderful time in terms of how our zoo benefited from the ability to enable Sir Edward to set up a reliable shipping relationship for his animals. Because in those days, even airplanes took a long, long time, many hours from Sydney and New Guinea to the mainland. And not only did he supply stock to us, I remember in the mid ’50s, one of the largest shipments that he sent to the mainland zoos was accompanied by George Scott. At that time, George was a bird curator here in the Bronx. And George came through, went down to New Guinea, the same wildlife sanctuary that, owned by and operated by Sir Edward in the central highlands of new Guinea. He came through with something like 70-plus birds of paradise for five different zoos. And it was wonderful to meet George and our trucks. Bring all of his birds off, it was a PanAm flight coming in from Manila.

03:18:17 - 03:20:19

He’d gotten them to Manila on a US Navy flight, somehow that had reconnected from the Admiralty Islands to Port Moresby, a complex route that Sir Edward employed when he could get no other way to transport animals. He would utilize the benefit of our military, on OC military aircraft. But at any rate, George Scott came through with this series of birds of paradise. We put them on our trucks, we came out, put them in our service areas, aviaries. So if a bird did come out when it’s cage was being cleaned or shipping container, which is beautifully done plywood boxes, the birds would be in our service area at the zoo concealed in, I mean, covered with an aviary so they couldn’t get loose. And all of the birds, we fed them papaya, and George got the first rest that he’d gotten in a long, long time. And that was a very frequent thing, that the people, that zoo folks that would come through, We would, we developed a procedure with the airlines that they would advise us in important shipments as far as possible as they were scheduled. And we became close friends with, it was never for money, but the huge satisfaction in making sure that the animals got the best care they could in Honolulu.

03:20:19 - 03:21:25

They’ve come with maybe 10 hours, 12-hour flight, they’re exhausted, they’re drained. We cleaned them, I’d go to the airport. In most cases, the livestock remain there. But usually, they were unaccompanied. It would be baby elephants that would feed on a nursing bottle made for cattle. Louis Goebel brought in perhaps, at least two dozen, one at a time, nursing baby elephants that did beautifully coming through. He’d bring in baby arangs, baby tigers. The most critical shipment, the one that took the most planning before it came through was the three platypus that David Flay brought through from Australia in 1957, to the Bronx.

03:21:26 - 03:22:48

Those three platypus, he had a huge shipping crate designed with a swimming pool, and then drying tunnels with dry hay that the platypus would cruise through and dry themselves so they prevent getting pneumonia. And that was so elaborate. It required getting sterilized soil. We sterilized soil here under the inspection of the US Department of Ag. Supplied it, sterile Hawaiian soil for David to put the worms in, these were earth worms that we imported from Florida. Hawaii has earth worms, but not that many. Thousands of earth worms for this flight. And because all of their earth worms from Australia had, well, they were mostly eaten by the time they got here anyway, but the soil had to be destroyed with the earthworms in it.

03:22:49 - 03:24:43

So that soil was not permitted to enter, it was disinfected in some manner. The new sterilized soil was utilized with the earth worms that would go in to be fed to the platypus from the time they left Honolulu and got to New York. And poor David was a, he wrote a very human interest, emotional article for the national, this particular one was for the geographic. And he mentioned in there that one twist, that as he was scheduling to leave on a PanAm flight, he, during his short duration, he was here perhaps a day, early in the morning to late than same day, and we did that transfer business with the new earth worms and disposing of the old ones, and providing new soft grass. We discussed his flight on the mainland with our PanAm friends here. And of course, as these years would go by, we’d develop personal relationship with the airline, both the cargo people and the people that managed the airline. And in that case, it was, I think Ernie Albright, the PanAm top brass here, who of course, was interested in this. This is probably the most single significant shipment, animal shipment that had come through in my 20 plus years watching this.

03:24:45 - 03:26:25

And Ernie studied, he asked about the connections between when PanAm stopped in the West Coast, what happened from there to New York. And David told him, and Ernie said, “Now, wait, let me see.” And he asked his schedulers, and they were able to arrange, change the flight that was programmed to come through the connecting flight from the West Coast to New York. And he got a flight that left almost four hours earlier, and it took the same duration. And later David told me, and he said, in this article, in “The Geographic”, he said, if he had to take… if he had been required to accompany the platypus on that earlier, I mean that later, four hours later flight, he strongly suspected that at least one of them would’ve died enroute. That that four hour shortening of their stress in the crate, despite all of this ideal design made the huge difference. And then the kiwis, the kiwis would come through. The director of the zoo, Ed Roach is the chap’s name that was in charge of the zoo in Auckland in those days.

03:26:25 - 03:27:28

And he sent the Kiwis through the San Diego, named the kiwi Belle for Belle Benchley. Turned out to be a male, but they had it misidentified it as so frequently happens. But the important thing, when that kiwi came through, When I received the crate, and in that particular case, I was to take the crate out to the zoo instead of feeding the bird right there at the zoo. I mean, at the airport. It was recommended by both the shipper and Ms. Benchley. Of course, wanted to do the best thing she could by the bird that we keep it overnight because they’re night feeders as zoo folks know, and they’re nocturnal birds. And to feed it correctly, we had the earth worms that we had dug for this. Because it didn’t, was not nearly as ravenous as the platypus.

03:27:30 - 03:29:17

And we had several hundred earth worms that we’d collected. And so we had to dispose of those worms that came through with the, not the worms, but the soil that came through from New Zealand also. So as the crate was handed to me by the cargo manager out on the tarmac, we both said, “Oh, my God.” The stench of the bird crate was overwhelming. The smell of death was dreadful. And we thought, “Oh God, the first kiwi to San Diego Zoo, this crate was beautifully decorated with paintings of the coat of arms of New Zealand. And we said, “Well, all we can do is just take her out to the zoo.” So we went, took this crate to the service area and I thought, “God, there’s only one bird supposed to come. And if it’s dead, that’s it.” So we opened the crate, unscrewed the top and the bird was alive, but what had smelled, the worms were in another compartment in the crate, the worms had been shipped in, and they had all died and their stench was overwhelming. And then we had to get rid of the worms and the soil under the inspection of the USDA inspectors that accompanied us out to the zoo with the crate.

03:29:19 - 03:30:32

But the bird was hail and hardy, and the head of the airline guy, this was Bill Malay at that time, and he was the PanAm cargo general manager. Bill came out and a new Zealander named George Monroe, who was then in his 80s, the grand old man of Hawaiian Orthology. He’d come here in the 1890s and studied Hawaiian and stayed. He was in his late 80s. And we had a little party at the, not a true party, but we invited a correspondent who was a very clever correspondent of one of the papers, and he wrote the fine PR piece, even though no residents in Honolulu ever saw this bird, ’cause it was never on display. Again, it was great PR for the zoo. We’re helping San Diego Zoo, we’re helping the zoo in South Auckland. We’re enabling this bird to make this successful trip.

03:30:34 - 03:30:55

And it was a cleverly written thing. Essentially it was a tea party given with this, for this bird, in it’s one day in Hawaii. You had mentioned Sir Edmund Holmstrom and giving you birds of paradise.

03:30:55 - 03:30:58

Were you successful in doing anything with the birds of paradise?

03:30:58 - 03:32:26

No, that our zoo is hugely successful in raising birds of paradise, but not at the time I was director. We built the collection up to the largest it ever reached. It was the largest collection in the nation, was after I brought these 15 birds of paradise in from Sir Edward at that time. With these 15, we had 29 birds of paradise, of perhaps a little more than perhaps, slightly greater than 12 species. Several species not on display anywhere else in the nation. We had two pair, almost nest, and almost as in baseball doesn’t hack it. One pair of red birds-of-paradise laid eggs and broke the eggs. The blue bird-of-paradise, a really lovely mountain form, laid eggs several years in a row, made a lovely nest, laid the eggs, incubated the eggs in the nest.

03:32:26 - 03:34:12

The only difficulty by then, her male, her mate had died. And it was a time that we only had that one pair of blues. And by the time we got any more blue birds-of-paradise from Sir Edward, that bird had quit laying. So the eggs of course were sterile, infertile. But since that time and after I left the zoo, my successors have kept this interest in birds-of-paradise. And one of the zoo staff members went down to New Guinea in ’87 when Jerry Mar was director, and this lady named Gail Wine was a female keeper, and that particular trip to the central Highlands, not to Sir Edward’s area, but to another area called Wau, W-A-U, is a little bit of a biological lab that was established by the bishop museum officials. And it’s still operative and is an area that our Honolulu Zoo is co-oped with to a degree. They wanna do it more in the future to help this biological station, which studies particularly diverse, all diverse forms of life.

03:34:13 - 03:35:46

Students have gotten, used that site to study for their degrees. And so this, our bird keeper from the Honolulu Zoo joined this group that was led by the curator, Allen Allison at the bishop museum. And Allen helped establish at the, this Wau biological station collecting area with the mist nets. And they got three species of birds-of-paradise down there, magnificent, superb, and I think six-plumed, and brought these back, shipped these back. And our zoo has had huge success when Raggiana was the third, Raggiana, superb and magnificent. They’ve raised our bird curator, Linda Sano’s done an incredibly good job with bird keepers in raising Linda is deservedly, just become general curator and been promoted to that post. She greatly deserves it. And she’s raised from one pair of superbs, I think over 40 different individuals that have been…

03:35:46 - 03:37:18

And this is the important conservation measure. It’s not just to have a lot of birds of paradise. She has negotiated with, I believe, almost a dozen, eight different other zoos, particularly San Diego Wild Animal Park has been her closest cooperator, and New York to exchange birds-of-paradise that she’s raised with the very few that have been raised by other zoos, to pair up birds of these three species is what our zoo has ex been exceptionally good in raising. And she’s done, this has touched on another thing. Linda has followed the concepts that we had in sharing rarities that she has raised hornbills, nene and other rarities that she’s done exceptionally well in raising in our zoo. With zoos on the mainland so that we can help zoos establish self-sustaining populations. And you had mentioned your relationship with these other zoos animals were in transit and so forth. Now you’ve had some relationships within the island itself, and I want to touch on a couple of those.

03:37:18 - 03:37:22

What was your involvement in developing Sea Life Park?

03:37:22 - 03:38:51

With Sea Life, that was a fascinating thing. One afternoon in the ’50s, a young couple with two little boys, toe-headed kids came in. The couple were in their early 20s or mid 20s, and they’d called and made an appointment. And so we met out on the lawn. And at that time, we didn’t have the classy building that exists now, we had just a tiny entrance building. So we met out on the lawn and this woman said, “I know you, I was referred to you by Chuck Bogart at the American Museum, the reptile curator at the American Museum in New York. He’s a friend of my father.” And of course I said, “That’s great, who’s your dad?” And she said, “Well, my dad’s name is Phillip Wiley.” And Phil Wiley was a bestselling author of a number of books during the ’40s and ’50s. And he wrote a serial for the Saturday evening post that continued on and on with a couple of guys that ran fishing charters out of Miami called Crunch and Des.

03:38:51 - 03:41:09

So I’d read those, and I knew about him and I said, “Wow, that’s great.” And then I said, “Well, what do you guys have in mind?” And she said, “Well, Chuck Bogart said that you could help us.” And I said, “Well, okay, what do you wanna do?” And her name was Karen, Karen Pryor. And Karen said, well, we wanna build an oceanarium. So I said, “Well, let’s take a deep breath.” And I said, “Three other groups have wanted to build an oceanarium here, and they bumped into all sorts of problems. Tell me about it.” So they said, “Well, my husband, Tap here,” who’s a tall blonde lanky guy, “is just getting out of the Marine Corps. He’s a helicopter pilot, and he has been interested in Marine biology. And he comes from an adventuresome family.” And I said, “Well, what sort of adventuresome?” Karen said, “Well, his dad is the vice president of Pan-American Airways.” And I said, “Gee, that’s,” I said, “Oh, that’s the guy that’s building his vacation house over on Maui with Charles Lindberg?” And she said, “Yes, that’s correct.” I had gotten some stories in the paper that Charles Lindberg had worked with PanAm for a time after the war and before the war, and scouted routes throughout the world, but particularly in Latin America. So I said, “Well, okay, how far have your plans gone with the oceanarium?” And she said, well, it’s this and this and this. We’ve talked to the people at Marine Studios down in St. Augustine, and this was before SeaWorld had started.

03:41:11 - 03:41:25

And so I said, well, sure, I’ll help any way I can. I said to her the same thing Mrs. Benchley said to me. Let’s get together, let’s talk about it.

03:41:25 - 03:41:30

And do you have location? What do you want to do?

03:41:30 - 03:41:32

Where are you gonna get the money?

03:41:32 - 03:43:03

And, well, turned out the father’s PanAm connection was beneficial in terms of having friends that, one of Tap’s sisters was married to Lil Thomas Jr., and there were a number of tie-ins with, again, the people that could help finance the oceanarium. So that hurdle was not as difficult as it had been with some of the groups. Two of the groups had come and failed to attempt to establish oceanarium. So it was, as a friend of the priors, that I assisted them. We drove around, we looked at potential sites. We named it. The land that was finally selected was Hawaiian homes land owned by the state of Hawaii. That was land, it was a tricky land acquisition because the then governor had to exchange, who was an appointed governor had to exchange the land for other government land that could be used for a school.

03:43:03 - 03:43:39

The oceanarium site was so steep for the school, but perfect for the oceanarium because they overlooked beautiful point of land. So in 1964, the oceanarium finally was open, and my daughter, Marley, worked there from the second year, right up for more than 30 years. And the oceanarium has exchanged hands several times since, but it’s there. Now help me with a question about a dolphin.

03:43:39 - 03:43:41

What dolphin was discovered?

03:43:41 - 03:43:43

Did that have anything to do with sea life park?

03:43:43 - 03:43:49

How did the discovery, if at all, helped the zoo, and what role did George Gilbert play?

03:43:49 - 03:45:44

George Gilbert, actually was Georges Gilbert, was a Hawaiian, part-Hawaiian guy that was, worked for the territorial division of fish and game, ran their research vessel, whose name was Imua, which in Hawaiian means forward, move forward, go forward. Georges was employed as a poppies and whale catcher by sea life park. And George’s collected, I don’t remember which species now, but one, perhaps it was a dwarf. There was a dwarf, a pygmy killer whale, and then a pygmy sperm whale that was discovered, that Georges was able to collect. As a captive animal that Deborah was very successful, I think it kept banging its head against the cement of the pool. But at any rate, Georges was a great guy, had the good Hawaiian sea fairer instinct, and Georges died of a heart attack when he was operating this whale catching vessel in one day. But he collected many of the, both the terciops, the Pacific bottle nose and the false killers, whales that my daughter, Marley, trained. You had mentioned receiving a different kind of animal, receiving Galapagos tortoises.

03:45:44 - 03:45:49

Can you tell us about the details of their development and breeding?

03:45:49 - 03:45:53

Did you implement a plan for them in breeding?

03:45:53 - 03:45:54

Were you successful?

03:45:54 - 03:47:23

We realized right away that in terms of Galapagos tortoises, no zoo would ever raise them. And at San Diego Zoo, they had over 30 for many years, and at Honolulu Zoo, they had a dozen. And part of our group and part of the San Diego Zoo’s group were collected by these towns and expeditions from this New York Zoological Society that ran the Bronx Zoo and (indistinct) was the curium, that was the aquarium director here in New York. The others were brought in by either yachtsman or in a very few cases, I think the ones that were owned by the Hawaiian royalty, that were brought in by the whalers were by then gone. But at any rate, San Diego had never succeeded in raising any from their huge herd of more than three dozen. And very few of theirs had laid eggs. We had the same situation. Out of six females, only one laid eggs regularly and another rarely.

03:47:24 - 03:49:01

And those eggs, both there and with us had not hatched adequately or none had hatched successfully. So my old friend, Chuck Shaw from early days at San Diego, and I compared notes over and over. And we came to the conclusion as they were having trouble mating, that his tortoises were kept in San Diego on very hard ground and ours were the same. And as the tortoises continued to walk, they’ll act of course, like little steamed rollers, road rollers, and they pound down the soil and gets harder and harder. So what Chuck did was bring in truckloads in San Diego, truckload upon truckload of sand and made a huge sand pile in one end of their display. What we did to soften the soil was to make a big mud wallow. And it worked in our case, they did mate successfully. And in ’53, the females would lay, and we’d see, they lay just at dusk, and they dig the holes, and then we’d put a little fence around so when the eggs would hatch, the youngsters would be contained in the fenced area.

03:49:02 - 03:49:58

And we found the first tortoise that had ever been raised in any zoo, we found in the early ’50s, ’53 as I recall. And a few days later we dug down, found another live one and a number of eggs that had been fertile but the eggs didn’t hatch. About five years later, San Diego was successful in raising their first Galapagos tortoise. And because, again, this breakthrough we attribute to, is the fact that the soft-yielding soil permitted the male to effectively fertilize mate effectively and fertilize the eggs.

03:50:00 - 03:50:06

How did you get Kenneth Norris to come to Honolulu Zoo, and how did he impact the zoo?

03:50:06 - 03:51:19

Ken Norris helped mostly by being a good friend. But in 1960, we went to the zoo conference, the AZA Conference, it was held in Long Beach, California, that year. And Sir Edward came up to that and that was a delight ’cause I’d just been down with him earlier that year, getting the birds-of-paradise, and I urged him to come to that conference. And Mrs, Benchley had retired so she didn’t come up, but I was the active, essentially his sponsor when he was here. It was the first and only AZA Conference that he attended. So the way this ties into Ken Norris. Ken Norris at that time was a curator of marine land of the Pacific Oceanarium that was just south of LA on the Palos Verde Peninsula, and Ken lived down there. And one of the things we did at the conference was get our zoo’s first gorilla.

03:51:19 - 03:52:43

It was this young gorilla that weighed about 15 pounds, was delivered to us at the conference, but we had no place to put him. He was delivered by a veterinarian named Deeks Picket that brought in, from time to time, had arrangement with the Cameroon government to bring an infant orphan gorillas that the parents, mothers had been killed to be eaten by the natives. And this was an arrangement that he had, to go get the young ones, and care for them and bring them over. So we needed a place to take care of this gorilla while we were in Long Beach. So Ken Norris, we’d gotten to know a bit, just socially, And Ken had a very obliging wife, and this little animal was essentially the same care as a human baby. And so he stayed during the, his name is Congo, during the conference down at Ken’s house. And with Ken’s wife taking, and their daughters taking care of it. And my daughter who was Marley, who was at the, the daughter worked at sea life park so long.

03:52:43 - 03:55:32

But the tie in with Ken Norris and sea life is that as the oceanarium sea life park was built by Karen and Tap Pryor, part of their objective was to have a scientific attached biological institute, which they named the Oceanic Institute, and they used the same salt water pumping system. And with the elaborate pumps, actually went down below sea level, down on the beach and buried in the sand. So at any rate, the place was just beginning, and Ken was, I had gotten to know him, and he assisted both in the design of the oceanarium and then I’d recommended him to Tap Pryor and Karen as the first director of their Oceanic Institute. And he came out and lived several days, several years here next to Sea Life Park and the Oceanic Institute in the beach house, beach-fronted house, before he moved back to University of Santa Cruz as a beloved prof back there. And later, he was the professor of one of my daughters, Dawn Breeze, and actually he was instrumental in employing my former wife, Mary Lou, as a volunteer in the University of California at Santa Cruz Marine Lab. So Ken played an important role in our life, mostly as a friend and of being here. And he was the most significant scientist in terms of negotiating between the Fisher fleets, the tuna fleets mostly operated by Fisher, the fishermen were primarily Portuguese ancestry that worked out of the West Coast ports of San Diego and Long Beach. And Ken had hired and worked closely with two of those Portuguese fisherman, Brooks Brocado and some other, Calandrino was the other chap’s name.

03:55:33 - 03:56:05

And they came out and taught the people at Sea Life Park how to catch the dolphins. But at any rate, he was an important person in the saga of working there at the zoo. He didn’t actually do any real work at the zoo. Now you’d mentioned the gorilla, Congo. Oh, Congo.

03:56:05 - 03:56:13

Can you tell us the story about how you decided to get gorillas, and the story of Congo and Cameroon?

03:56:13 - 03:58:06

Cameroon was the second gorilla. Well, the zoos were keen on getting gorillas and they were available at the time, in the ’50s and the ’60s, before the Endangered Species Act made acquiring them more so complicated that they virtually stopped the inboard of them. So we acquired, he was to be the first of the male, to be the first gorilla of a breeding pair that we hoped to get, so we had to begin with him. We got him in 1960 from (indistinct) Pickett who delivered him to us there at the zoo conference. And actually, the interesting thing about the tie in with the Bronx Zoo, Bill Conway, forever and ever the CEO of the Bronx Zoo, and later the Wildlife Conservation Society is its name, was at that conference in 1960. And we happened to have had a loan car. And after the conference was over, we were all going down to San Diego. So we left just at dusk and I was driving, it was a large car, big Sedan, gas guzzler, and Bill Conway sat in the front seat with me, and he held that little Congo in his lap much of the way between Long Beach and San Diego.

03:58:08 - 03:59:15

And the rest of my family was in the back seat, my wife, Mary Lou, and two of my young children. And then we got to, so Bill was the first zoo person to be involved with Congo except us. And then we got to San Diego, we stayed there a few days and then we flew back with him. I wish I had the tickets dubbed, said baby brisk on the plane. It cost 16 bucks, the same fare that an infant would’ve cost in those days, it was a non-scheduled airline. They would come and they would go, and they would have very short life span, but they were offered cheaper flights, cheaper fairs. And for a zoo director that at that time was paying for his own trips to the AZA conference, I was not flying PanAm. I helped PanAm and they helped me, but not with air fare.

03:59:15 - 04:00:13

So Congo got older, he lived in our house for a year. We were unable to get another male from Ditts. For some reason, they got harder to get. And so Ditts did bring in a few more. He brought in, I think, 18 altogether. Marvin Jones, the zoo historian determined that. A few more than a dozen gorillas, all there, country of origin to the Cameroons and being imported by Dr. Picket. But the second gorilla, we finally had to get settled on another male, and he was Cameroon, and as so frequently happens, the personalities were very different.

04:00:13 - 04:01:47

Congo was giving and forgiving, and would reach out toward us with his arms up and cuddle us in his arms or we would cuddle him in our arms. Cameroon was very different. He coward when we’d approach him, he’d shield his face as though he expected to be slapped. And we just, from that behavior, we attributed that to the fact that he had been mistreated someplace in Africa before, after his mother had been killed, and while he was cared for as an infant before Dr. Pickett got him and brought him back to us. And they grew up together and both thrived for the year about in our house until they no longer required the 24-hour care. And they slept together, they were sleeping with one of our children. Each of them had a gorilla as a sleeping companion because they were very dependent with animals for the year they were at our house. And gradually, we weaned them away from all that attention they devoted their attention to each other.

04:01:47 - 04:02:43

And then they, more and more ate grown up gorilla food, more fruits and cereals rather than just milk. So then we moved them to the zoo and where they thrived. And then in ’65, I left the zoo. They were then would be six years old and they did very well. And my successor Jack Throp spent a lot of time and effort trying to find them successful breeding loans. He got, over a period of years, females here. Congo went to live in the zoo in Phoenix, on breeding loans for many years. That was unsuccessful.

04:02:43 - 04:03:40

His potential female mating companion there finally died of a cancer. So he went to live in the zoo in Seattle on breeding loan. And at the age of, well, the 30-something, he mated with two of the Seattle Zoo’s gorillas, and had a success. Each of them had a child by him, and one of the children died in infancy, and the other one is Nadiri, is still up in the Seattle Zoo at the present time. Let me ask you some director questions. You met many people as a zoo director.

04:03:41 - 04:03:44

Who made the biggest impression on you, most memorable?

04:03:44 - 04:05:17

Oh, Sir Edward, of course. Sir Edward, meeting that man, he was so, made such a, just as Emily Hahn said in her book, he had the finest, most original mind. Spending the days, I spent several weeks with Sir Edward in Sydney, several months actually, before going up to his nature sanctuary in the central highlands there in new Guinea. And Sir Edward, I don’t think I mentioned to you how he became the wealthiest man in the continent. He was an inventor and a manufacturer, and he invented the kerosene refrigerator. And whether he adapted that invention, And this is what Michener discusses, in “Tales of the South Pacific”. One of the things he mentions about Sir Edward. One about the fridge and one about his nature sanctuary in New Guinea, that the, imagine that the outback, visualize the outback of Australia for a moment, and realize the distances are so vast, that there are many areas that do not have electric power.

04:05:18 - 04:06:14

So the kerosene refrigerator enables a housewife to have a functional refrigerator 24 hours a day, that operated on a easily contained product, just kerosene. So he named the refrigerator Silent Night, but the main thing is that he got the nickname down under as the Savior of the Outback Housewife. Because with the kerosene refrigerator, she wasn’t able to have a refrigeration in her kitchen. And before that had been limited to deliveries of ice, which was infrequent and difficult, and complex, and maybe impossible.

04:06:14 - 04:06:32

Now during your time as the director of the Honolulu Zoo, what would you consider to be the one of the major events that affected zoos in general, in Honolulu Zoo, during your time, and how did you deal with the issue or the event?

04:06:33 - 04:08:36

I think the simplest, nothing strikes me really quickly as to an event that occurred during my almost 20 years in the Honolulu Zoo, as probably the event that had the most far-reaching effects was the Endangered Species Act that began in ’69 and took effect with most of its ramifications in the early ’70s. And the Endangered Species Act pretty well changed the way zoos obtained animals from overseas by greatly complicating the access of these animals by the animal dealers. And it made obtaining many species that previously had been acquired in some quantities like orangs and tigers much more difficult. And that’s the key thing, I think, of the one thing that comes to mind. And the Endangered Species Act also focused more attention on the many native Hawaiian birds, which brings to mind the nene. We’re gonna talk about that in a minute. We got that down. I want to talk about that, the whole group of them.

04:08:36 - 04:08:39

What was the most frustrating time as director at the zoo?

04:08:46 - 04:11:00

I think the most frustrating time occurred in 1959 when the jurisdiction of the zoo changed. At that, previous to ’59, the zoo was operated by semi autonomous park board, a board of public-spirited citizens appointed by the mayor with the approval of the board of supervisors of the city. It was a hybrid organization in terms of they had to receive their funds from the board of supervisors, and which were sometimes reluctant to provide the funds. But the expenditure of these funds was under the administrative responsibility of the appointed parks board. And this is where the park department administrator, Ed Lyons, did a masterful job. He was very fond of the zoo and he was very generous in working hard to see that we got an reasonable amount of the budget. In 1959, a new charter was established, city charter, and the former structure where the zoo was administratively operated by a semi-autonomous board, was abandoned, was abolished. And the jurisdiction of the park department, park’s ramification department under which the zoo operated, as a division, was moved over as a department directly under the mayor.

04:11:00 - 04:12:58

So previously, essentially we were shielded from direct politicians, and we were shielded by essentially the park department. The park board ran interference for their department, and they advocated people appointed to the park board were pro parks, and they advocated, just as hospital boards would, and school boards, for the agency that they were appointed to represent. So the zoo and the other parks at that time, under the parks board had that umbrella. And if we were successful at the zoo, the park department, they would’ve been quick to criticize and question if we were unsuccessful. But we were successful. And they, from that standpoint, were provided the protection from direct politics. And direct politics was not too negative, but it was, zoo director had to spend considerably more time defending the zoo from political influence and criticism than when the park department… Under the park department, we basically pleased they were our bosses.

04:13:01 - 04:13:29

And under where the city council was insulated from the operating, we that were operating at the park department and its various divisions. And that was the biggest frustration, is when the jurisdiction changed and we became a direct department of the mayor’s office.

04:13:34 - 04:13:37

How would you describe yourself?

04:13:37 - 04:13:44

I’m not gonna ask you how your staff when you were working at the zoo, but how would you describe yourself as director?

04:13:45 - 04:14:17

I think if I were to describe myself as a director, what I intended to achieve was to follow the priest concepts that I had learned in the Navy, which essentially is to go through the chain of command.

04:14:17 - 04:14:27

Be pleasant to everybody on the staff, be perfectly happy to ask how they’re feeling and it’s a nice day, isn’t it?

04:14:27 - 04:14:30

And how’s your stock doing?

04:14:30 - 04:16:08

But in all my years, I never gave instructions to any keeper, ever, unless he was the one person on those animal trips that we made on ships. Of those seven trips on ships, three of them, I had one supervisor keeper along. The other four, I made alone. But they were the only time I ever instructed a keeper directly to do anything. If I would’ve, if there had been a cat getting out or a bear getting out, but that never happened when I was there with just a keeper. So essentially, what it would add up to be is I followed the chain of command. So the supervising keepers would never have to wonder if I had even hinted to the keepers, hey, this might be a good idea to follow up on or to do this differently. So there was never, I wanted to as really carefully avoid any feeling that I would, in any way, go around or undercut a supervisory keeper at any step in the chain of command.

04:16:08 - 04:17:28

And in that way, it made me feel comfortable that the responsibility was on my shoulders, but essentially, the buck stopped there and I’m not going around anybody else but through the proper supervisory chains of command that we had established. Even though it was a small zoo, it was done through the proper supervisory steps. I was very careful. Another aspect of this, there’s only so much a supervisor in a civil service structure can do for his staff. He can’t change the hours. There’s so many hours of operation that’s established legislatively or administratively within the structure. I can’t change that, but what I can change is to get salaries, higher salaries for the animal keepers. And I worked very hard at that.

04:17:29 - 04:18:38

And like when we began at the zoo, she had a blank slate with the only mammals that, a few monkeys and the goats. There was no real hazard factor, except the cassowaries were hazardous birds to be around, that’s for sure. But beyond that, there were no zookeepers. They were park keepers were assigned, was their title. Same title that the people that mowed the grass and raked the leaves, and pulled the weeds. So I set up the structure that is necessary in any zoo of any size with the animal keeper, animal keeper, foreman, animal keeper, supervisory foreman, steps in the chain of command. And to do that, I worked very carefully. I spent a lot of time with the personnel technicians in the civil service department.

04:18:38 - 04:20:33

With the technicians and with the boss, the civil service commissioners that were just people, people that the head, the chief of the civil service commission was a plantation owner that had salt water aquariums, just as I did. And we’d skin dive in the same place to catch salt water fish to take home to our salt water aquariums. So I knew him on a totally friendship basis. So when I would make applications to increase the salaries of the keepers and consequently the keeper, supervisors, and right on up the line, except for me, the technicians listened and paid attention. And I learned from them what to ask and what to change, and what to modify in the job descriptions based on reality as the zoo grew. One thing I did was make everybody interchangeable, which was a little awkward and an operational standpoint in terms of keepers, birds, reptiles, mammals, but it gave me a stronger basis to support their responsibilities, broader range of creatures I was supposed to care for. So when the applications, when I would submit requests for upgrading the salaries of the keepers, both the civil service technician levels would approve it, had approved it informally, previously. And so by the time it got to the Civil Service Commission themselves, who were personal friends, that it was approved.

04:20:33 - 04:21:13

And I didn’t ask for things that were unreasonable. I supported the keepers as much as I could, and they knew that. I didn’t have to (indistinct), and I just said, hey, we’re making this submission to increase the salaries. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, let’s do it again later. And almost every time, it was approved, every step. Every few years, we were able to upgrade the keepers more than just the standard flat 5% raises that all of the civil service employees would get through the action of the city board of supervisors.

04:21:13 - 04:21:19

Now, you mentioned that the zoo wasn’t really large, but did you make rounds every day?

04:21:20 - 04:22:37

I did, and what, I never had a day off. And my success for Jack Throp began to take a day off so people could expect him not to be there. I would never check time clock, never do a daily work report or anything as the keepers are required to do, a time sheet. I would very often deliberately come in on weekends, often just for an hour, but to be there, particularly with VIPs, and particularly with the children of reporters, that was another thing. I would bring VIPs through very often, as all zoo directors. I see much of the time they are visiting their zoo as if they’re showing somebody through it. And I would often do that on weekends and days off, and holidays, particularly if it’s involving VIPs. And oh, some of the VIPs we got were really remarkable people.

04:22:38 - 04:23:32

Give me one example, one example of a remarkable person that sticks in your mind. Bernard Jimmy. Bernard had, in addition to editing this marvelous encyclopedia of animals, Bernard had a TV show program like Marlon Perkins, well, an animal-based television show in Germany. I’ve been told, I’ve not seen it. And he came through and we visited the zoo. And he was alone, he didn’t have his family. And his son had just died in the, Michael, in the Serengeti plane crash. He was an unhappy person and grieving.

04:23:32 - 04:25:11

And this was in early days when postcards did not reveal. You did not see nude postcards and nude pictures of semi-naked ladies at the corner drug store. So he asked me with a kind of a smile and a little bit of embarrassment about pictures of Hawaiian ladies that only were wearing just a graph skirt. And I said, “Sure, let’s go try this guy.” I said, “I’m not sure whether he has them or not, but if there’s anybody that’s gonna, it’ll be this little shop here,” which was in the international center. And I just knew this, enough about this guy’s shop to know it was a little shady. And so first I did the talking because Bernard had a strong German accent. And I said, “What about,” first I’d found that what he wanted was color slides. So I asked the guy and the guy looked around like I was perhaps a government official, and I looked innocuous enough.

04:25:11 - 04:26:19

So he said, yeah. So he reached way down under the counter and brought these slides up of Hawaiian ladies provocatively dressed in only a graph skirt, leaning against a coconut tree, swimming, emerging from the ocean and coming out of the beach. And Bernard said, “Those are great.” I said, “How about these?” He said, “I’ll take them all.” So he bought a little series there, it’s all the guy had. And I said, “How do you,” he said, “You plan to show those on your TV show in Germany?” And he smiled and he said, “Oh yes.” He said, “If the skin is brown, bare breasts are okay.” I’ve always enjoyed that (laughing). But he was one character of many, many. Now you mentioned that you went to the mainland to go to a AZA Conference, a ZPA conference at that time.

04:26:19 - 04:26:23

So you were involved in a ZPA when you were director?

04:26:23 - 04:27:19

Not very much. I was never on a committee, and there was one western conference I attended at Fresno. And at that time, regional conferences were carried out. I was never an anti AZA, but I was never a powerful supporter. That was, of course, before accreditation was necessary. I wanna talk about animals now, to change the pace a little. You mentioned cassowaries. So you had cassowaries at your zoo.

04:27:20 - 04:27:22

Were you able to breed cassowaries?

04:27:22 - 04:28:55

We were very fortunate and we had a great beginning because this fellow that ran the bird park, E.X. Lewis, had brought back a bunch of cassowaries, and cassowaries, when they’re as big as chickens, as tiny chicks, are very hardy, and light and simple to transport, and not dangerous when they’re only a foot and a half, two feet high. And he’d brought, when I began at the zoo, four cassowaries were present then from the birds that he had brought back between 1935, and he made three trips, extended trips to Southeast Asia on ships. And so the birds could have come any time between ’35 and his last trip in ’40. So there were four adult cassowaries, two of which laid eggs. One more frequently than the other, and they were all kept separately. They were kept in the old lion cages. The lions were disposed of after the elephant Daisy was killed in ’33. And when the cassowaries were brought in, they were these line cages.

04:28:55 - 04:30:57

The concrete floor was removed, turned into grass, And in Congress, as it appeared, cassowaries were living behind three quarter-inch bars, but they were thriving mostly on a diet of chopped bananas. But the caretaker that took over after the bird park, superintendent, had been reluctant to ever put them together because he’d been told by the bird park superintendent that they were very aggressive birds toward each other. And because of their aggressiveness and the hazard of their almost three-inch long claw, that the inner toe had, the nail was very enlarged into a weapon that they would use to kick forward. It was a very powerful fighting tool, and they would kill each other by slashing and causing a lot of loss of blood. So he had been apprehensive to ever get them together. So very, very slowly and carefully, we determined the schedule. The easy part was determining the schedule of when this most consistent layer would lay eggs. She’d lay three, two days apart, and almost invariably in the same time of year, almost to the day, as I recall, it was early May, right about now, and then she’d lay her three eggs and just walk away and ignore them.

04:30:57 - 04:32:26

And as is the procedure, a breeding procedure with cassowaries, the males do all of the incubation, 100%, and all of the care of the chick. The females role in raising cassowaries is only to lay a fertilized egg. And then after she lays a clutch, the male puts them together and incubates them. So we knew that much, from K.C. Lin, the bird curator at San Diego had never raised cassowaries. Nobody on the mainland or Europe had successfully raised cassowaries ever, primarily because of this aggression. So we set up an elaborate scheme to have four of us, two keepers and my supervising keeper and I would gradually put a bird that we assumed to be a male in with the one that we knew was a female, because it laid regularly. We waited until she laid the first egg, so we knew that based on her past history, that she would lay every other day in the clutch of perhaps three eggs. Then once she laid that first egg, we were ready.

04:32:26 - 04:33:31

We put the one whose gender we didn’t know in with her by opening a door, he wandered in, we fed them heavily before. So hopefully, they’d become somewhat lethargic. We had two weapons. One is a strong fire hose standing by and manned by one of the keepers. And each of us held a T-stick made out of two-inch wood with a cross member about two feet well long at the end so that we could fend off the birds. And it required, first, several days before they could get together without fighting. And when we first put them together, they fought immediately. We used the high speed and the high pressure water hose on them, which usually works to separate fighting animals in most cases.

04:33:31 - 04:35:09

It didn’t with these cassowaries. We had to actually go in, push them apart. Fortunately, they didn’t… She was the aggressor, she was the biggest one as is the case in cassowaries. And she did not attack us, she was really heavily injuring him and there was some bleeding, but we forced the one that later did determine, because it had successfully bred. We forced him out and then put them together the next day, repeated the same thing, only they were not quite as aggressive, still a water hose. And then the third day or third, just before the third egg, it would be several days later, putting them together, that that time they were very wary of each other, but they did not fight, and they did mate twice. And based on that, we figured that was hopefully that mating would’ve been result in a fertilized egg and she laid one more or two more eggs. But then we separated her from the eggs, left him in her former pen with the eggs and left him alone with the eggs.

04:35:09 - 04:36:21

And here’s a bird that had grown up from a chick, had never seen any parents has raise, ever raised children, ever incubate eggs. And lo and behold, we had such good fortune. He walked over to the eggs and we were so fearful he wouldn’t step upon them or ignore them. He didn’t either. He pushed them very gently together and then straddled the eggs and incubated two full months, 60 days, and he only left those eggs just for seconds to drink and eat. We could throw the bananas to him so he could eat on the nest. But as far as water, he’d come over and drink just a few scoops a day. And the 60th day, a chick emerged, just a perfect little replica, except it’s pattern, instead of being glossy black was strippen like a zebra, it was golden and black, and it followed the parent.

04:36:21 - 04:38:14

And just like a P-chick about the pen. And we fed it the usual mix of almost anything, chopped meat, fruit, but the real trick, the thing that I’m convinced was the clue to the success of that activity of raising that chick was the same food that we used heavily with raising cranes, live meal worms that were soaked in or coated with mineral and vitamin powder, and given in great perfusion several times a day. And enough so that daddy could eat his meal worms, and there was plenty left over for the chick. And he was an expensive chick to raise because there were many hundred meal worms, but the little one grew rapidly and it out-surpassed in size, the father. And when it was about seven, it lived well, beautiful, big bird, and when it was about seven, it began to lay. So we knew these were in the days before DNA and testing, and chromosome and hormonal testings. So we named it Cass, and again, we passed on the information about that process, which was a very difficult process to repeat, and a lot of time and effort involved. And just as with the tortoises, a few years later, San Diego Zoo, for the first time, raised cassowaries there.

04:38:15 - 04:38:24

Now I’ve been to the Honolulu Zoo, and I remember seeing lots of what I’d call rock doves or pigeons all over the place.

04:38:24 - 04:38:29

Is that something that occurred naturally or was this an exhibit of yours?

04:38:29 - 04:39:43

What’s good about the pigeons at the zoo, at our zoo is they’re pure white. And if you look at pigeons, as we look at pigeons in the movies, either in the fountain in Rome or in the streets of Jakarta, or in other cities, they’re any color like the original rock pigeon of Europe. They were there when I began. There was a pigeon law for them, and it was, they were all white. And the procedure that the supervisor before me had done is he trapped the pigeons periodically when the population got too great. And at the same time, he would eliminate any of the ones that were not pure white, ’cause there were very few other wild pigeons in Honolulu. There were very, there was a small population down on the docks that ate the grain that was spilled from the shipping of the cattle. But we had almost all of the source of all the pigeons.

04:39:43 - 04:40:56

And then I continued that policy of pigeon control, essentially trapping them and killing them humanely, and burying them within the zoo, periodically when the population would get too large. My successors did not follow that habit, and then the pigeons during my time were restricted to the zoo grounds, almost entirely, exploded in population, and now Waikiki Beach is covered by white pigeons, strolling around. And the hotels in that vicinity are frequented by white pigeons in their lanais, and it’s become a great nuisance. And my successors and the city has not had the fortitude and the wherewithal to follow up on the pigeon control.

04:40:57 - 04:40:59

So you didn’t bring them in?

04:40:59 - 04:41:11

No they were there, and they were wonderful. And a small population for the kids to feed is great, but emphasis on small.

04:41:11 - 04:41:20

Now on a more endangered animal, what was your role or the Honolulu’s role, if any, in the monk seal?

04:41:20 - 04:42:08

Almost none. The fishermen that had been into that area, there was a landing strip built by the Navy at French Frigate Shoals. They took this low sandbar island and took up dredges, and made it into a landing strip because it was halfway to the island and midway. It’s about 600 miles North of Honolulu. And the seals live up in the Northern chain almost entirely in those days. Now about 10% of the population, population’s about 1,000 animals. Now 10% of the population, about 100 live in the main islands. The others are still up in the leewards.

04:42:09 - 04:43:11

And we did collect two from that French Frigate Shoals and sent them to the San Diego Zoo because they’d had great success with marine mammals while sea elephants, stellar sea lions. And they did not thrive. They do thrive in captivity. It just so happened those two that we sent for some reason lived only a short time in San Diego. But I was very active in supporting their protected animal by this territorial law. And then, but it’s easy to have a protected animal on the law books when it lives 1,000 miles away in a population of uninhabited islands. The law books don’t mean much to the fishermen. Our big concern is that shipwrecked ships would go around on those islands.

04:43:11 - 04:44:26

Both the humans on them would harm the seals and the sea birds, but particularly the damage to the seals or to the islands would come from rats that would come ashore on those islands. And it has not happened up there fortunately, that the shipwrecks very, very luckily did not deposit rats. Another subject. Tell us about your involvement or the Honolulu Zoo’s involvement in the nene project. The nene project was probably the single bit of conservation. No, probably it is the single bit of conservation that the zoo was the most successful in, and one of which I’m most proud. Because at this time, there are more than 1,000 of these Hawaiian geese, endemic geese in captivity, in zoos and private collections throughout the world. It’s a very endearing, trusting, relatively small goose that develop slightly different than mainland forms of Canada geese.

04:44:26 - 04:45:52

The legs are longer, the webbing is less. But when I began at the zoo, my friend was the head of the territorial department of fish and game, who was a fisheries biologist and an amateur herpatologist. So we became close friends by sharing the few reptiles as captives that Hawaii has. His name is Vernon Brock. Vernon realized very soon that part of his, as part of his responsibilities, which is the native land mammals, the Hawaiian geese were in very serious decline. So he employed a person to do a survey, a scientist named Charlie Schwartz. And Charlie and his wife, Elizabeth, did a so-called game bird survey, even though nene were not gamed birds at this time, they were in the past. And game bird survey of the Hawaiian islands, which was mostly the introduced birds, the chuckers and the pheasants and the quail.

04:45:54 - 04:47:35

But he included the nene, and one of the results of that survey was as he did in an, of as close a census as he could, he determined that there were only 13 of these birds in captivity, in the entire world, all in Hawaii, 11 of which were under one ownership. We had one in the zoo, the 12th one was owned by a rancher on the big island. And the 11 were owned by an (indistinct) wonderful old guy that was a very well to do landowner named Herbert Shipman. Now Herbert owned, Uncle Herbert, we referred to him as, never to his face. His friends, close friends, of which I never became a close friend, but a friend realized that he had this. He had perpetuated a captive flock of these birds from the time that he was a boy. And one of the greatest challenges was, well, the captive birds, 13 total, in the wild, nobody was sure. But in the mountain slopes of 14,000 high, two volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Maona Loa, right on the island of Hawaii, above where Herbert Shipman’s 11 birds are, at sea level, in captivity.

04:47:35 - 04:48:58

We determined the full wild population was probably no more than 30. So there is a endemic bird that, actually, it’s endemic genus, that is now down to numbers that it were (indistinct) close to the extinction. The reasons probably introduced, similar to, you read Quammen’s “The Song of the Dodo”. It’s almost identical to the dodo. People killed them as they killed the dodos, only they did in the 1600s, and the dodos, even the primary killer of the dodo was, in addition to pigs and dogs, it was also monkeys. We did not have monkeys as predators, but we had the pigs and the dogs, and we had greedy people. The Hawaiians lived in semi-harmony. They didn’t become dramatically low in numbers during the Hawaiian times before Chapman Cook, that mostly occurred probably from the 1800s on, actually even sooner.

04:48:59 - 04:50:16

During the gold rush time in California, in 1849, there are historic records of barrels of nene preserved in some sort of brine or something, being sent to San Francisco as food for the miners. It was that much of a decimation of the population. They’re good to eat, I have been told, and that was their downfall from the people standpoint and the ground predators, particularly not just the dogs and the pigs that I’ve mentioned, but also the mongoose. Mongoose could easily kill a little gosling. Dogs and pigs particularly could even kill the female, the goose that’s guarding the nest. So the population was down to that. Vernon Brock, my fish and wildlife director friend, said, “Paul, you’ve got a nene at the zoo. We know that Herbert Chipman has got 11.

04:50:17 - 04:51:43

They’re the only ones in captivity, but the one that you’ve got at the zoo and the one that Ms. Wall owns in her ranch in Kona. Let’s set up a captive breeding population of the nene. Because until we have control of the population that we’re not doing our job to protect this resource. And it’s my job as part as head a fish and game, protecting natural resources of Hawaii is part of my responsibility. So will you help me do it?” And I said, “Sure.” So he had a wildlife biologist at the time that he just employed a new biologist named Don Smith. So Don and Vernon, and I, went over to see Herbert Chipman, the rancher on the big island. Now this rancher was harrassable. He’d been described by an author as harrassable, negative, argumentative, arrogant, such terminology as that.

04:51:47 - 04:52:33

He made him somewhat of a formidable character for us to approach. But we did the normal thing that a proper human relation person would do. We approached Uncle Herbert through an intermediary that would build some credibility on our part. Now visualize for a minute, here we are. We’re all Hawaiis, we’re all Caucasians, he’s part Hawaiian. His grandparents came here in their early 1800s as missionaries. He’s third generation. He owns a huge part of the big island, the whole district, the Puna district near Hilo.

04:52:34 - 04:54:14

Now it’s a thriving and it was in too active community. So we had to approach this formidable character, and we did it through this intermediary that was a brother of a friend of mine, and so who was a prophet. So we went to his home prearranged, he was gracious as a proper landowner should be. However, he was absolutely aware of what we wanted, and we wanted to borrow some of his geese to start a breeding flock. He had been burned once severely by a previous time that the government, in the mid 30s, had built a game farm for birds on Oahu, and they borrowed some of his geese. For some reason, the game farm, the support evaporated, his geese were given out to politicians instead of back to him. And as a consequence, he was very negative, very in that, and other reasons made him very critical of the territorial government, which we, in his eyes represented, which we were, even though the zoo was sitting in county of Honolulu. So we spent a full day with Uncle Herbert, and we made the presentation, and we could see that he was not really moved.

04:54:14 - 04:54:52

He treasured those geese. He had the only flock in the world. 11 of those birds, they were all free winged, right in his yard, on the coast, it was beautiful. But he knew it was vulnerable because they’d been a tidal wave in 1946. In April 1st, 1946, a huge tidal wave came in and hit all of Hawaii. Particularly it hit the coast of the big island. It killed 170-something people. It was the worst tidal wave in recent history, in terms of human death.

04:54:53 - 04:55:20

And he lost a very large number of geese in that so he was down to only 11 birds. He’d had 40-something before. So he knew he wanted, he was torn between relinquishing some of his birds and still the need to perpetuate them. “Are these guys credible, that want my geese?” He was thinking.

04:55:22 - 04:55:26

Are they really gonna do what they’re gonna say?

04:55:26 - 04:56:28

And I could perceive, we were well aware that he’d be reluctant to give us a geese, not gonna just say here. So I was the youngest of that bunch, and I was 26 then. And I approached him and I said, “Mr. Shipman,” he hadn’t told us no and he hadn’t told us yes. And I said, “Mr. Shipman, I’m just starting at the zoo. I’ve only been there two years.” I said, “I plan to stay a long time.” I said, “We know that the previous time you lent the birds in the ’30s, the government officials disposed of them badly. They didn’t give them back to you as they should have. They gave them away to other people. But I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. Shipman.” He had been dealing with, by mail, Peter Scott, at the Well Fowl Trust in Britain.

04:56:30 - 04:56:36

Peter had urged an environmental study, an ecological study of the birds.

04:56:36 - 04:56:37

Why is the number so low?

04:56:39 - 04:58:47

I said, “I will promise you this. If you lend us two pair of your birds to do a breeding program up here on the mountain, I will see to it as well as I possibly can, to be sure that we follow up your friend, Herbert Chip, I mean, Peter Scott’s suggestions to have a ecological study done on the birds, and I will keep you informed, and I will promise to tell the reporters the progress of this program, this restocking, restoration program, and I will continue to emphasize it’s all due to the fact that you’re lending us the basics, the breeders of this entire program, is dependent on your generosity in lending us these birds. I will see to it, I promise you that, Mr. Shipman.” And I was smart enough to stop right there. So we got in the car, and our mutual friend on the way down to Hilo, and flying back down to Honolulu said, “Well, I don’t know about Uncle Herbert.” He said, “Maybe you’ve gotten to him with that newspaper thing. But another thing I do, guys, is have Governor Steinback write him a nice letter saying, hey, we wanna borrow two of your birds, two pair of your nene, and we’ll do right by you, and make it flowery.” And Vernon said, “I’ll do that.” And so we went back. Less than a week later, we got word, it’s a go, we did it. And that was the basis. Now the fascinating thing, there was no money.

04:58:47 - 04:59:25

So we built the pens. I lent them some wire from old zoo pens that we had to tear down to build a parking lot. The post for the pens, they have areas up on the mountain. It was in a former CC camp. Nobody went there, it’s all deserted. 6,000 feet elevation, it was a terrible place. Froze every night. Of at least one day of every month of the year, it was so God awful cold up there, but it was sterile.

04:59:25 - 05:00:29

Birds never got sick. They never caught no fungus, no germs up there, nothing. They all lived forever. They had babies, that was slow in the beginning, and we did have to later capture some of, a few once we knew more about what’s going on. We got started with these two pair and then I lent them the one at the zoo, and they caught a wild female that a dog had captured, that a pig hunter’s dog had caught, and that was the way it began. And no feds, there was no federal presence in fish and wildlife in Hawaii at that time. It was just territorial fishing game and me at the zoo, just Vernon. And later we got appropriation through the legislature of 5,000 bucks, $5,000 to begin a major restoration program.

05:00:33 - 05:01:42

And now they’re over 1,000 birds that have been, that live on in the wild on three islands, the big island, you can see nene, you can drive right half hour from our house and see nene. They’re very trusting birds, and then they’re particularly abundant on Kauai, Kauai and (indistinct), but it’s been hugely successful. And now the fact that it was down to 11, 13 birds in captivity, total, is long gone. And the other trick was naming at the… Hawaii had no state bird or no territorial bird, no official bird. All the other states did, Alaska just named the willow ptarmigan. And we figured let’s name this darn thing the official bird of Hawaii. That’ll focus attention and that’ll get sustained money, hopefully federal money.

05:01:42 - 05:01:47

And it did, it worked. And you haven’t answered the primary question though.

05:01:47 - 05:01:48

What was the primary?

05:01:48 - 05:01:49

Did he get his birds back?

05:01:52 - 05:01:55

He didn’t, did Herbert get his birds back?

05:01:57 - 05:02:51

Actually, he was pleased about what we did and what he did get back. He sent some to Peter Scott in Britain and he raised a bunch and some came back from Britain, also to be released. The obituary when he died in the ’70s, 30 years later, I guess that would’ve been, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, called him the savior of the nene. So all that PR, every story saying these were Mr. Shipman’s, Herbert Shipman birds. It carried through right to his obituary. He never asked you, “Where’s my birds?” He never did, he didn’t. Great story. Let me ask you now, you talked about animals coming to Hawaii from international areas.

05:02:51 - 05:03:00

Now I understand that you or was it the Honolulu Zoo, brought in primates for medical research?

05:03:00 - 05:03:05

And can you tell me the story of that?

05:03:05 - 05:03:15

And can you tell me how it came about in your opinion, the efficacy of that type of use?

05:03:18 - 05:04:36

Well, the way the zoo got involved in monkey, in importing and large numbers was not the zoo per se, but the fact that so many monkeys were brought in for medical research, particularly for polio vaccines production. So in the mid ’50s, there was a big upsurge of interest in developing a polio vaccine. And by 1955, Jonas Salk vaccine had developed. His vaccine was developed to the extent that the US Department of Health approved it for human usage. So all of a sudden, for the first time, there’s a polio vaccine. Now President Roosevelt, previous to being the president had developed polio. So he and some other people founded an organization called the March of Dimes, which we know still exists. Then it was entirely devoted to polio.

05:04:36 - 05:06:00

That money was available, and that was the money that, research money that Salk and others used to develop the vaccine. Now to develop the vaccine, they entirely relied on monkeys as the lab animal. Not just to develop the vaccine, and not just to test for it, but to actually produce the vaccine, that it required live monkeys to obtain, I believe it came from their livers. I’m not positive the second, but from one monkey, they could obtain 6,000 doses, as I recall statistically. So to vaccinate all of the human population in the nation would require an enormous number of monkeys. And that was the objective of the March of Dimes, to eliminate infantile paralysis. Well, one day, this was a heated activity, to develop the vaccine. And it was day to day progress reported in paper, we’re closer and closer.

05:06:00 - 05:07:32

And finally, when the Salk vaccine was about to be approved, the labs needing monkeys increased because there was competition, not just the Salk vaccine, actually, the March of Dimes set up their own monkey holding facility to supply other researchers, because developing this use of the monkeys was a fundamental basis for developing the vaccine. That was the shortage. That was the bottleneck in producing the vaccine. The labs didn’t have enough monkeys. So suddenly, there’s this great demand for the monkeys. So there were very few animal dealers in Southeast Asia that were experienced animal dealers in shipping monkeys. We dealt with about five different agencies, different suppliers. They were almost all secondary businesses from people that were importers of carvings, rosewood carvings, animal dealers that were never truly specializing in monkeys, but had birds, monkeys were a sideline.

05:07:34 - 05:09:11

So what happened is here’s this huge demand. So it’s economically feasible for folks, people in Indonesia and the Philippines, and India to get monkeys and get a good price for them from the researchers in the USA. With that stage set, one day I got a call from the PanAm cargo head, guy named Karn White. And we worked with Karn for years and years. By then, this was ’55. So I’d been doing the zoo thing almost 10 years by then, and we shipped a lot of livestock through both coming through and Karn had seen what we’d done in keeping things alive, going in both ways, from Asia to the United States and the other four zoos, and he knew we imported things, and everything pretty much got, that we worked with was successful because we used the brine, the proven type of shipping crates. We didn’t overcrowd, our job was to design the crates that worked, and they did work. So one morning Karn called and he said, “Paul, can you please come down? We need you here.” So I said, “Sure.” And he was a social friend as well as, as just through the, we’d frequently chat.

05:09:11 - 05:10:04

He was the top guy on the cargo. You’d tell me what’s coming through, the cable just came through that the Kiwis or whatever are on their way. And so I got out there and he said, “Here’s what we need your help on.” And he pointed at an airplane that was just being unloaded. And it was a crate of research monkeys coming in from Kolkata. And all of us in the zoo business know how upsetting and tragic it is to see a crate of dying animals, dead and dying animals being shipped. There was no way to get the dead ones out. There was no way without letting the live ones out. The crate was poorly designed.

05:10:04 - 05:11:00

The odor was terrible, both from the fecal material, as well as from the dead monkeys, because airplanes were slow in ’55. So he said, “Paul, we need you.” On one end, we’re under the gun to get monkeys to the research people for the polio labs. On the other end, these monkeys, we can’t ship them like this. It’s tragic for the airline, the monkeys get out in the cargo bay, which is where the baggage also is. But we have no way to properly care for them. when they’re in these crates, these makeshift crates, the people shipping them are overcrowding them and the crates are bad. “Will you please, your things get through in good shape.

05:11:00 - 05:11:14

Could you design us a prototype monkey crate that we can establish as the criteria that the shipper must meet before we’ll accept the animals?

05:11:15 - 05:13:24

And make it practical, make it so these guys in Kolkata and Manila, in Jakarta can find the materials to do it, but will you do that?” And I said, “Of course.” So we went out, we gave it our top priority. We have a very sharp guy named Tony Kim, was our specialist in the crate design. And we had to use the most available, which was heavy, essentially heavy chicken wire covering a wooden frame, but secured in such a way that the doors were double doors, double latches. And the key new thing we added was the requirement that the crate had a double bottom with the false, the first bottom being the same wire mesh so the feces would go through the floor into a waterproof metal tray underneath, and in which we would put this new product, which was now called kitty litter in the time, years before it was sold as, called Zabal, absorbent clay particles from Georgia, that was essentially, up to that time, used in garage and machine shop floors to absorb oil. So we designed, Tony designed the crates with the metal tray underneath the salt false wire bottom. We also indicated for this size monkey, no more than X numbers in that size crate. We got it to Karn. Karn had pictures taken of it, he had posters explaining it made and sent to all his cargo offices throughout the South Pacific, throughout Asia.

05:13:24 - 05:14:58

All of the shippers offices had one so that they had plenty of extras, so that these improvised new animal shippers now had a standard to achieve on their crates. And the crates went through, and the vaccine was approved in ’55, and enough animals went through, that in two years later, the March of Dimes, the polio foundation, had vaccinated, the statistic, I think, they had vaccinated over 40% of the population of America under the age of 20. It was a hugely successful program. Without government official, it had the official approval, but not the funding was private foundation to provide that. And we never, that was a bit of PR that we saw no reason to attempt to capitalize on, or to even mention. We just used our close ties with the PanAm, never backed. No letter of thanks. We didn’t wait for, we didn’t want, that was not our purpose.

05:14:58 - 05:15:15

Our intent was not to achieve any approval, we just wanted to help. And we had this specialized knowledge that the PanAm could utilize, from that office here and accomplish the purpose. You’ve done some unique things in your career, in the zoo.

05:15:16 - 05:15:18

When did you retire from the zoo?

05:15:18 - 05:15:21

What year and why did you retire?

05:15:21 - 05:16:44

That’s always a tricky one. Part of the, in ’65, I left in ’65, I began in ’47. The reason is always difficult to know precisely, like almost everything in life, it’s a bunch of reasons. One reason was the, you asked about frustration of… And one of the frustrations was that the new jurisdiction of the park department from the park board administration over to becoming part of the mayor’s cabinet, where the park director became directly a member of the mayor’s cabinet. And that was part of the reason. It was just so much of the time, essentially, was bureaucratic energy. I was expending energy on bureaucratic necessity to achieve the same results that we’d been able to accomplish before with a lot less wasted time.

05:16:45 - 05:18:00

That was part of it. Also, I was in my mid 40s, it’s the critical midlife crisis time, where it’s the established time for people to change careers, to get a divorce, to just change lifestyles. And I just felt that I’d accomplished pretty much. The zoo was a going concern, it was doing well, and I could leave on a high note, and I just did. I took, and I wanted to do things more that achieve for ourselves, but there’s no single answer. But that was, it was ’65, and I was whatever, mid 40s, early 40s.

05:18:00 - 05:18:04

Were you involved in hiring or assisting to hire the new director?

05:18:04 - 05:20:18

To a degree, yes. The mayor, Neal Blaidsell, was so anxious to do a good job of keeping up the zoos management, that he sent his assistant managing director down to the West Coast and he saw me, we arranged to meet and he said, “Will you set me up? Will you join me and will you meet and arrange to meet with the curators and the boss of the San Diego Zoo, and get together and advise me on how best to evaluate the applicants that I’m going to… I’ve been sent by the mayor to interview, to pre-interview, pre-select. They’ve sent in their applications, and I’ve got a list of about six or so people that do interview. Oh, I want you to help me with the criteria what I’m to look for, what to ask about.” So he came over, (indistinct) was his name. And he came over and we spent probably five hours at the San Diego Zoo with the… Charlie Schroder, the director, was not there, but we spent it with the bird curator, K.C. Lin, my reptile curator friend, Chuck Shaw, and the mammal curator, George Purnell. And we continue to stress the importance of a good leader and integrity and reliability, and somebody that really values communication with, both within the zoo, and particularly with the media.

05:20:20 - 05:21:33

And Vic then recommended Jack Throp who was a, had never been a zoo director, but he had been at one time an employee of the San Diego Zoo as a keeper, and had worked his way up by being a bird curator at the new zoo in Phoenix, which was just being built by Bob, late Maytag, before Bob died. And I think Bob died just before, which isn’t significant. What is significant, that Jack Throp became a good zoo director and worked at our zoo as my successor for quite a time. I think about nine years. And Jack went down to, he was selected to be the director of two zoos, sister zoos in Australia, The Sydney Zoo, and then a nearby zoo that was established in the country 100 miles or so away from Sydney.

05:21:33 - 05:21:36

Were you able to give Jack any advice?

05:21:36 - 05:22:23

Jack listened. He paid attention and he was easy to advise because my advice almost was precisely what his standards. Again, he was great with the newspaper reporters. He was great with his PR. He kind of ruffled feathers with the keepers by changing anything, which he had to do, as he… After he’d been there, oh, I don’t know, say about five years, he increased the staff from 22 to 30-something. Jack was probably the most successful of all of the zoo directors that have followed me.

05:22:23 - 05:22:27

Had you thought about working at another zoo after you left Hawaii?

05:22:27 - 05:24:14

I did but I didn’t want to. I wanted to use… I definitely, it’s one of those things of knowing what I didn’t want more clearly than what I did want. And what I didn’t want, to work in another zoo. I would be happy to work as a zoo consultant and as it so happened, in a way, I became a consultant because our caring for animals. When I left, even though I’d taught our supervisor, my second in command, the techniques of how to take care of most of the animals that came through at the airport, that came from mainland zoos and went down, the flow of animals from Southeast Asia, particularly to the zoos, they continued to the pet shops, but we weren’t involved with crates of miners, talking miners. But the zoo, the PanAm and the other aircraft companies got together and did a little consortium, and had their own little structure rented at the airport to put livestock in that needed care and specialized care and route. So that part of that job was taken over, and the job had dwindled very greatly because the demand had pretty much been accomplished for the basic livestock.

05:24:15 - 05:24:28

So I did a bit of consulting with the people that they employed for that. But mostly, I just immersed myself in the avocado rearing and marketing field.

05:24:28 - 05:24:34

So then what factors brought you back to be chief of the wildlife branch?

05:24:34 - 05:26:10

Well, there was a series of family complications, primarily of a divorce. So that kind of broke up the family venture of raising the, taking care of our two avocado groves. And our kids were scattering, one got married. The oldest daughter moved out here to work at sea life. And the other thing I was offered. With the divorce factor, the family event of raising, caring for the groves, which was essentially the umbrella that living in San Diego county was the attraction was no longer, was greatly reduced, so that I was amenable to coming back to the islands. And the other thing I was offered the job of being head of wildlife for the state, because of, mostly I knew the people and because of the nene program, and some of the other waterfowl and other native bird programs I’d participated in with them.

05:26:12 - 05:26:16

Well, can you tell me then how you got involved in the brown snake?

05:26:16 - 05:27:14

The brown tree snake. The brown tree snake is an easy and relatively uncomplex story, that in the mid ’80s, native birds were being greatly reduced in population on the island of Guam, primarily in one part of Guam. So there was a lady named Judy Salvage. And Judy was studying this bird decimation for her PhD thesis. And she did all a great deal of investigation and disease, and other factors.

05:27:14 - 05:27:20

Why would birds be disappearing on one part of the island and not on the rest of it?

05:27:21 - 05:29:30

And finally, it was determined that the brown tree snake, which had been introduced from, probably Manus, which was native to New Guinea and Northern Australia had become established by, as well as they could determine, by a Navy surplus equipment, shipped into Guam, was causing a great deal of economic trouble as well as environmental by destroying the native birds. It was also causing almost every night, blackouts, by climbing the wires as a nocturnal arboreal snake. Climbing the wires, crawling across the electric primaries and frying itself. But the numbers of these snakes increased to enormous population sizes, ’cause the same situation as rats and cockroaches. There were a few predators, almost none, dogs and cats were about the only thing that was preying on the brown tree snake. And as arboreal nocturnal snakes, they were reproducing well with, the predator pressure was almost nonexistent and the prey base was huge because they were omnivores and they fed… The little ones ate, mostly lizards, the young ones, and the older ones, rats and birds. So our concern and our involvement in that began with realizing that there was very little inspection of the airplanes, particularly military aircraft, ’cause there was a much more traffic in military aircraft coming in than a commercial aircraft.

05:29:30 - 05:31:36

And there was almost no inspection at both Guam, before the snakes left, and here when the planes arrived. So the snakes were getting aboard. I think we documented nine brown tree snakes that arrived in Hawaii. Half of those, well five, as I recall, were alive when they arrived, found slithering on the airport, near the airplanes. So we realized that they were not covered by any existing federal or state inspection programs because they were a new ball of wax, so to speak, they weren’t insects. So the existing inspection as established, before the snake, was way too limited. So my group, based on the concern factor and learning that the way things got done in Hawaii, as you set up an organization, I gathered together, we made a quick ad hoc group called The Brown Tree Snake Control Group with a bunch of, the reptile man, Sean McEwen at the Honolulu Zoo, with the reptile professor at San Diego State, and a couple of more, John Worler down in, who then was the director of the zoo in Houston. We set up this small group, and the key person was my former boss at the Land of Natural Resources, which is a umbrella agency for a fishing game in Hawaii.

05:31:38 - 05:33:52

And he had retired and he agreed to serve, and he was close friends. He’d served in the 442nd infantry division, for which Dan, Senator Dan in Norway had also served and lost use of his arm. And this chap, Bill Thompson was hugely instrumental in helping us obtain money primarily through Senator in Norway, through the military budget, which essentially the snake was involved with the military in two ways, A, it probably was introduced by the military during the war, by surplus materials coming, the movement of road building and other heavy equipment to Guam from the outer islands. And also by the fact that the Navy controlled a very large amount of land on the island of Guam that was occupied, the whole Northern end, by Anderson Airforce Base. So not the Navy, but the military controlled that huge amount. So the military was directly involved in the snake. And we were able to get a tiny grant from the Hawaiian electric company, just a pitten of $37,000. So our group went to Guam, made an analysis, discovered that there were huge loopholes in the gaps in the net of detection, no dogs were used, and we recommended, that dogs were sniffer dogs that trained to detect the brown tree snakes be established in both Guam and here in Hawaii for this.

05:33:54 - 05:35:12

And as a result, the US Department of Agriculture became the lead agency. They’re now 22 employees on Guam, deal entirely with the brown tree snake. A varying amount of sniffer dogs, three or four teams operate to inspect the planes before they leave. It’s always the trouble. It’s always the fear during a recession, in their downturn in the budget, that 100% of the snakes won’t be detected. All of the airplanes won’t be fully inspected, but such a program exists now, which didn’t exist then, and we can be very proud of that. And then so far, except for those nine snakes that we know about that came in, half being alive, we know of no others that have entered Hawaii from Guam, and more important, none are established in the wild, and that is our fear, that they’ll become established. And the economic loss of causing blackouts by climbing the electric wires is enormous.

05:35:12 - 05:35:38

That is what the people on Guam are far more concerned about than they are about the loss of their native birds, is the fact that their freezers don’t work, their TV doesn’t work night after night, after night. More than half the nights they were without electricity. We’ve done a lot of research with a lot of people who have submitted questions when we said we’re gonna talk with you.

05:35:38 - 05:35:48

One of them was, do you accept the laws requiring the banning, such as the snake ban create a serious limitation on exhibiting these creatures?

05:35:48 - 05:35:51

How does one work around that issue?

05:35:51 - 05:37:14

Well, the key thing is that, the law is a good one to… Like so many laws, the concept is wise. The administration of it is sometimes, since it’s done by people, and often with people that don’t understand the background and the purpose, there are gaps. Initially are working with the Department of Ag, with these rules, which had the effect of law, worked well because I was a key member of the committee that determines, make things zoo only, make a list of things that anybody can bring in as a private pet that’s sold in pet shops, that’s one category. Make the animals for the zoo a separate category in the sense that you have far more control of them than you do in pet shops and for private ownership. And in addition, you have that requirement of make it males only if you want. And don’t open the door wide open. As for example, turtles.

05:37:14 - 05:37:37

I would strongly feel like your common snapper would be an undesirable resident because he’d feel, in terms of aquaculture, they’d, and toads from what I’ve read, but the red-eared and the tortoises are freely permitted.

05:37:39 - 05:37:42

Somebody didn’t think about it in the cane toad, did they?

05:37:43 - 05:37:44

In the what?

05:37:46 - 05:39:21

On that, we saw 50,000 of them in Maui. But you know, what’s knocking them now is their population is gone down to, I’d say less than, in our yard, less than 5%. We used to get as many as say 100 in our yard. They were a lot, and don’t knock the cane toads, they eat active, they feed on enormous centipedes and I’d heck of a lot rather step on a cane toad than I would a centipede. But they haven’t done, they’ve never done in Hawaii what they’re doing in Australia. One thing is they’re not as toxic to have something done on that, but yes, there is a great need to limit the creatures that do come in to Hawaii, and the present day ag rules are, the administration of them is not as, on a personal basis where they don’t expedite the permits, especially for the zoo, as they should. And so there are long delays, and the zoo does suffer for these delays. And if approved animals, there is a format, procedure for things that are on the, approved for the zoo list.

05:39:22 - 05:39:53

Things that aren’t on the approved list, even the same genomes, separate species, sometimes have to go through a long laborious permitting process, unnecessary delays for the zoo. But it’s way better to have it than to not have it. Quick exhibit question. I know you’ve seen a lot of exhibits. You’d indicated you had seen an unusual exhibit for a king cobra.

05:39:53 - 05:39:56

Can you kind of give us a capsule version of that?

05:39:56 - 05:40:56

The most remarkable thing that we wanted to, Bernard Harrison and I went up to the zoo in Rangoon and Burma in the mid ’70s. And the purpose of that trip was for him, particularly, because I knew it wouldn’t do our zoo any good, ’cause we couldn’t keep king cobras, but he wanted to see, he’d heard that the Rangoon Zoo in Burma displayed king cobras, adult 14-foot king cobras behind a fence that’s only just waist high, three feet. And that seemed unbelievable because we all know that king cobra six feet could go over a three-foot fence. So we had a wonderful time with (indistinct), the director of the Rangoon Zoo. We had a delightful experience with him.

05:40:56 - 05:41:04

He escorted us through customs, no suitcases were opened and a lot of smiles, right?

05:41:05 - 05:41:57

And finally, we got around to asking that question. (indistinct) said, “Well, here’s the procedure. First of all, we get cobras. First we have a relatively large number of cobras available. There’s a good population here in Burma.” So we select the more lethargic, the more quiet examples, specimens that are least apt to want to get away. That’s the beginning. Then once we select them, then we put them in the display and we enclose them in this little doghouse-like box with a locked gate or a latched gate. We put it in there first and leave it for a while and let it get used to that little crate.

05:41:57 - 05:42:46

It’s comfortable, it’s in the shade. We feed it in there, we make it like that little box. Then we open that little box very carefully and the cobra comes out. We do this before the visitors come in the morning. And this young man, a 10-year old boy is employed to spend all day here at the cobra display. And he has this long fishing pole, like piece of bamboo. And we begin by conditioning the cobra. He follows it at a distance, either from outside or inside the display with him.

05:42:46 - 05:43:44

And this cobra which had been selected as a relatively quiet animal to begin with, as soon as it begins to climb over the guardrail or climb over the wall, he taps it on the nose with the bamboo pole and it withdraws. And when it repeats that, he taps it on the nose again. And then at the end of the day, we enclose it back in its little box by putting a snake in there for it to eat or because it wants to get back into the box to hide. We’ve left the box closed during the day. And then he grins. (indistinct) looked just like Yul Brynner. Bear, tiny bald guy. And then he grins and he said, you know, it’s sort of really, so what.

05:43:44 - 05:44:34

We’ve got lots of king cobras on the ground, so one more gets loose, nobody ever knows. Three criteria that Americans zoos cannot achieve to (laughing). Okay. All right, that will not be an exhibit that will be in our normal US zoos. Don’t put that on the list of priorities. It says you can’t employ 10-year old kids, it’s against the law. Yeah, even then, a lot of things about that story are no, no. The other thing about Burma, while we’re talking about the zoo in Burma. In those days, and I suspect, continuing now, Burma is really economically stuck and has a lot of, at least it had sanctions.

05:44:35 - 05:45:52

The zoo was an, it operated very heavily on improvise. There was a sign in the director’s office, every day we have to accomplish more and more with less and less, I can recall that. So he said, now here’s one way we achieve that, come out. And he had another kid, this was an older kid. He was carrying a blow gun, real old fashioned blow gun. Made of bamboo, all heated, treated, and I presume at one time the Burmese folks used them in warfare, at least they used him to kill birds. So what this, he says now, whatever the guy’s name was, his job is to catch the small mammals with the blow gun, there’s no poison in it, is just an arrow, And we use those to feed the clouded leopards and then the other cats. We save on the food bill that way.

05:45:52 - 05:46:15

And we said, “Well, what are these small animals?” He said, rats, he said that’s our rat control, and we also use squirrels, to shoot squirrels. But primarily he’s on duty in the evening with a spotlight, rat control. Works, straight to the leopards. Okay.

05:46:16 - 05:46:23

All right. What skill set does a zoo director need today as compared to when you started?

05:46:25 - 05:47:25

I think the biggest difference is what we’ve, that the skill set that a zoo director needs today is a greater ability to deal with non-zoo, non-animal people. I think animal people, as long as a zoo director familiarizes himself as well as he can with the available information about the animals, and he respects the other keepers. I mean his animal care staff, he’ll do well. The biggest thing is the difference is he’s gotta have a greater knowledge or she have a greater knowledge of dealing with boards, with money, foundations, and with politicians and bureaucrats.

05:47:27 - 05:47:37

What kind of small or a medium-sized municipal zoo today do to be involved in wildlife conservation nationally or internationally?

05:47:38 - 05:50:05

To be involved with, to be meaningfully involved, truly accomplishing an important purpose is challenging. I think to be internationally involved is to join the agencies, World Wildlife Foundation Fund, but the other is to become active in getting to know, at least, as a paper person, your Congress and your senator, Congress person, and your senator. And have you and your friends effectively communicate with them on conservation manners, whether it’s fish and wildlife service, whether it’s endangered species identification and administration. And the other thing as the larger zoos have done, and some smaller zoos, identified with an individual research facility. As I mentioned, Honolulu Zoo has a tenuous and far too limited sister relationship with this research facility, that’s really funded on a shoestring down in New Guinea. That a few dollars on the part of funding, funds raised by a small zoo to buy needed equipment, whether it’s medical, veterinarian equipment, other equipment for that facility, a Jeep, a used Jeep, tires, radio equipment, particularly for the enforcement officers of whatever the conservation activity can, just a few dollars can, for a particularly a smaller facility, research facility, beyond the shores of the US can be greatly significant.

05:50:08 - 05:50:15

What changes have you seen during your years in the zoo field regarding visitor attitudes about animals?

05:50:19 - 05:51:31

I have not… I’ve been real lucky that the grotesqueness that people laugh at, used to laugh at with animals in, for example, dressing chimpanzees in human clothing and that sort of thing has never been a significant, I’ve never been involved in. The decency, the nobleness of the adaptive, the fine, the beauty of the animals have always been something that I’ve been aware of. And I’ve watched the audience gradually, I think do, primarily, to conservation movements, become more aware of the whole environmental need for environmental support of conservation of wildlife.

05:51:36 - 05:51:42

Any advice for the newified zoo director about the importance of marketing zoos?

05:51:42 - 05:51:45

What are the most important aspects of marketing in your opinion?

05:51:48 - 05:53:16

I think the major advice I would offer for marketing, as well as it’s related, dealing with public relations and the media, is get to know the people you’re dealing with as individuals, invite them and their families on their time off, which maybe it’s inconvenient for you, but invite those marketers and those PR media people with their families on a time at their convenience, to your zoo for behind the scenes, special tours, not with a flock of 50, but with just one family at a time, to build a personal friendship relationship so they better understand what your concerns are. And more important, you’ll better understand what your fundraisers or the people that are going to supply you with either becoming customers or wholesalers, or public relations specialists. ‘Cause this is a bit of a controversial topic. What’s your view, and certainly involves Honolulu Zoo.

05:53:16 - 05:53:27

What is your view regarding the topic of zoo’s maintaining elephants in their collection generally, and then specifically the Honolulu Zoo?

05:53:27 - 05:54:49

Well, in terms of elephants, our climate alone is an enormous benefit, where the minimum temperature is 58, so that you don’t have the severe problems of both heating and cooling. In terms of providing a stimulating and adequate environment for them, our zoo is doing that now. They built a brand new place. And I think that, not to display elephants simply because some anti-zoo extremist make those demands is unwise. I think the answer is to display them, do not display them unless you can display them well with where you meet their needs of both behavior modification, caring for the animals, as well as space requirements. And in terms of the elephants, that would be the same standards, whether it’s a (indistinct) or a squirrel.

05:54:52 - 05:54:55

Are zoos necessary?

05:54:55 - 05:54:55


05:54:55 - 05:55:55

Zoos are necessary for the same reason that music is a necessity and art is a necessity. It’s just no man lives by bread alone. And the whole, the role of zoos, as I see it, is to further an understanding of the entire world of nature, appreciation of nature, particularly the beauty of the natural world and to deprive children of that interest and that opportunity is, in my mind, the same as depriving them of other forms of art and music, and history and other life enrichment experiences. I know your shirt is kind of unique.

05:55:55 - 05:55:56

Is there a significance to that?

05:55:58 - 05:58:09

Absolutely, it is. One of the finest things that has happened in Hawaii is that since the nene was established, which we helped to do in 1957 by the legislature, two years before Hawaii was a state, it’s become that endangered endemic bird. Our Hawaiian geese have become the symbol of the islands and accepted as our official now state bird and the mother goose rhymes that we all grew up with as kids have been translated to two, two, nene rhymes, mother Hawaiian goose or anti Hawaiian goose legends, and the identifying in a positive way, through merchandising of the nene, which is part of this print, of the other official emblems of Hawaii. The state flag, the tree, which is a kukui tree, and the white hibiscus is the state flower are adopted as a very… The symbolism on this shirt happens to be produced by one of the highest end fashion firms. These are not inexpensive shirts. This is not what the tourists would get off the rack, unless he wants to pay considerably more than $100 dollars for it. We identify them with quality.

05:58:11 - 05:58:16

What do you know about the profession that you devoted so many years of your life to?

05:58:17 - 06:00:28

It’s a hugely rewarding profession. The biggest new opportunities I see is to follow the fact that, in many ways, it’s more difficult, and in other ways, it’s far simpler. The simpler way is that knowledge is hugely available now on the internet by Googling both the availability of that knowledge and the fact that knowledge exists. I could go onto the, or a student could go on the internet and discover the diet of say, even a rarely kept animal such as a platypus. In the old days, my days, that diet was first not well known, and second, unavailable, and it was known only to a select few. And if it had been published, it was in an obscure journal where only a specialist would have access to it. As far as the difficulty in the zoo field now, I think a primary objective that we must have now is not just to display the animals as curiosities, as perhaps we did 60 years ago, but more as family groups that represented conservation objectives and goals that we wish to preserve more and more of the wild things in nature. And these animals on display would represent ambassadors in their own way to the creatures that live in nature.

06:00:30 - 06:01:18

As Peter Scott told me, he said the big thing I think, Paul, is that what zoos can provide in conservation is way more than just raising a few to be released in the wild, and restock depleted populations. That’s important, but depleted populations are depleted usually for a reason, having to do almost always with people. And if people can become more aware of these creatures by seeing them in a zoo, learning to appreciate them, that’s the major role a zoo can perform in the world of conservation.

06:01:19 - 06:01:21

How would you like to be remembered?

06:01:26 - 06:01:42

I hope, just as I’ve remembered now, that, of course you wonder exactly, A, who remembers you, and B, how, if they did?

06:01:44 - 06:02:27

As a good dad, that’s one, as a good husband. And then the other, as the person that was in a very special situation at a point in time when the zoo in Waikiki could have continued as simply a bird park. It could still be a bird park right now. It could have sustained itself at that level, and I would like to be remembered as the catalyst that turned it from a diamond in the rough at the slope of Diamond Head into a true jewel of a zoo.

About Paul Breese

Paul Breese
In Memoriam
Oct 16, 1922 - Oct 18, 2018
Download Curricula Vitae


Honolulu Zoo: Honolulu, Hawaii

Director Emeritus

Paul started his zoo career as a part time reptile keeper at the San Diego Zoo in 1940. His promotion to driver for the zoo’s sightseeing bus came via his boss, Ms. Belle Benchley, the director of the zoo and the first female in the United States to hold such a position.

When the war started Paul joined the Navy and in 1943 became a naval officer in the south pacific theater. He fell in love with Hawaii and finished his degree at the university of Hawaii. Through a series of events and people connections he was offered the position of zoo director in 1947. He was twenty-five years old. He retired in 1965 and through his efforts the NeNe Goose population on Hawaii was saved from extinction.

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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.