October 24th 2015 | Director

Walter “Pat” Quinn

Founder of the Gulf Breeze Zoo and the Zoological Association of America, the second largest trade association for zoos in the United States.

00:00:00 - 00:00:49

My name is Pat Quinn or actually Walter C. Quinn. But Pat’s my handle. I was born in New Jersey. My family lived in Madisonville, Tennessee in the hills. I was raised there in the hills with a family, my family. Born in 1936, and my mother was there when it happened. I was raised in a house with no screens on the windows, no insulation, no water in the house. I carried enough water that by the time I was 10 years old, my knuckles were dragging the ground from hauling so much water in buckets.

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I was dragging my knuckles on the ground.

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Was this Tennessee?

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That’s what you call torture.

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Was this in Tennessee or New Jersey?

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Tennessee. I left New Jersey when I was very young, went back home with family. My mother was from Tennessee, my father too.

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Aside from bringing water in the house, what was your childhood like in Tennessee?

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Wonderful. Tell me about it. Wonderful. I was always very inquisitive about things, and particularly natural things. I’d get up in the morning and I’d notice the sun, the moon at night, I’d notice the cloud formations, I listened to bird songs when I got up in the morning. In fact, I was in school in the eighth grade and Ms. Usla McClean said, “WC, why aren’t you listening to what I’m saying?” I said, “I can’t, I’m distracted by the spring frogs that are out there peeping in the pond near the school.” All of a sudden, all the students began to hear the frogs. So I had a psychiatrist in Los Angeles talk to me and said, “Do you hear sounds that people don’t hear?” I said, “Yes.” They said… Well, the time he was through with me, he talked to my lawyer friend and said, “The guy’s psychotic.” Because I was thinking nature.

00:02:20 - 00:03:36

I can hear a squirrel bark a mile away. So it was interesting being raised up in the hills there. I remember one of the best lessons I learned, I had some baby ducks and we had a spout that caught all the rain to go into the big tub. We used that for washing clothes and things like that because we had no water in the house. I had baby ducks and I was doing this to them and they’d dive under the water and I’d go up to do this, and they’d dive under the water and dive under the water again, and I was watching them under water. My dad saw me do it, so he got his belt off, started snapping his belt, and he said, “What are you doing scaring those animals?” “Dad, I wasn’t scaring them, I was just playing with them.” I said, “What are you gonna whip me for?” He said, “I’m not gonna whip you, but the ducks didn’t know you weren’t trying to kill them and now you think I’m trying to kill you.” That was a good lesson I learned from my dad. Now, as a youngster, you had to learn to hunt. Well, we hunted because we ate a lot of game.

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I ran rabbit traps in the morning, all went along. Grandma, Sarah said, “Go check the rabbit traps, see if we have anything for dinner.” So we ate a lot of game and bear, I ate boar, bear, possum, rockoon, frog legs, and lived off the fat of the land.

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So your hunting was to bring food into the family?

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Yeah. I hunted most of my life and I’ve supported hunting and I’m very passionate about conservation. My real passion is ending poaching of elephant and rhino, I’ve concentrated on that for many, many years. I helped raise money for the first helicopter for Ted Ghost to anti-poaching in Tsavo National Park, East and West. So that was back in the early ’70s. So I was always kept up with Africa, I always wanted to go to Africa. My first animal that I caught was a toad in a bunch of wire in the orchard, and that switched me on. I brought everything I could bring home and put it in the house.

00:05:09 - 00:05:48

I had flying squirrels in my drawer and my mother would go take the laundry out and go outside in a big pot and put the dirty clothes in there. I remember Crispy the squirrel coming up out of the clothes, out of my underwear drawer and bubbles coming out of his nose. Mom was punching a stick in that big pot out in the backyard, and that squirrel was in my clothes, it’s something. Now, you talked about being younger, a hunter, and you’re talking about your conservation efforts.

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How do you balance being a hunter and being a conservationist?

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Can you be both or are they opposed?

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Yes, I think it’s essential.

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I think about $4 million or more per day goes into the federal budget from hunters and fishermen. Every time you buy a gun or buy a shell or buy a fish hook, a bow and arrow, all those things, there is a bill that a portion of that money goes into wildlife. If you look at things like, look at Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, Delta Ducks, these are all people that hunt and these are all people that understand the necessity for conservation of wetlands, understand food and migrations. So I’ve told people that said, “Oh, you hunt?” I said, “Yes, I hunt.” “Oh, it’s terrible, how do you do that when you’re a…” I said, “Have you bought a duck stamp this year?” “No.” “Do you have a fishing license?” “No.” “Have you given any money to nature conservancy?” “No.” I said, “You’re not doing anything for wildlife, you got to spend money, and that’s what brings the money in to save wildlife.” I said, “If all these animals, the big horn sheep, elk, a lot of the deer.” Deer in North America, there is 130 million deer in North America, 4,000 deer in Alabama alone. People thought that we’re killing all the deer off, deer populations are increasing and increasing because of agriculture and planting feed plots. So it really is… There’s a difference in the thrill of killing something, but a successful hunt is the use of many skills. I think man wasn’t brought up on grass, man was eating dead carcasses, sharing it with lions and things like that.

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So we’re not vegetarians, we’re omnivorous, we eat meat and grass. So it’s a long history between with man and animals. And thank God we have people that care about it and many of them have been sacrificed trying to protect that.

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So in your youth, you were a collector of animals?

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And as you were growing up, were you able to see, what was the first zoo that you saw as you were growing up?

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The first zoo I saw was at Knoxville, Tennessee, and they had a big bull elephant there. That was the first zoo I saw in my life, and had some other animals too and had a very famous old African bull. I had a very tolerant mother, I would bring possums, raccoons, and screech owls and hawks and crows in the house, we had all kinds of animals. I had a squirrel that was a gray squirrel that every time my grandmother came to her house down to see us, that gray squirrel hated my grandmother. She wore the old cotton stockings, and they were all picked stringy because that squirrel was grabbing those. She had a broom and she was going after that squirrel. She carried a broom with her every time she came to the house because that squirrel didn’t like her. And my mother had a thing about snakes.

00:10:20 - 00:11:42

I had a horse then, and I was over feeding the horse. I had an oatmeal box that I put the feed in for the horse, and it was just a round paper can. I left the horse, I fed him and left the horse and I was going back to the house. I went by a spring and I got on my knees and my belly and I was drinking out of that spring, and I looked up and there was a snake right there. So I got the snake and I took it home and I put it in the mailbox, put the lid on it. The next morning, for some reason, my mother opened up that box. My grandmother was a little bitty woman, wore high heel shoes, swore like a sailor, They both went out of the door at the same time and got jammed in the middle of the door, going in the kitchen, and I never heard so much commotion in my life. So I heard my dad say something about me getting out, get that snake, so I got the snake.

00:11:42 - 00:13:19

Then a little later on, I was at the house in the basement and I had the snake in my pocket. I said, “Mom, do you wanna see the snake again?” And she looked at me funny and she said, “Okay.” I pulled that snake out and showed it to her, she lost her voice for about four days, she couldn’t speak (laughs). So I had my time doing things like that. I’d take take a hamster to school or something and get it in the wall somewhere and be in the school and everybody was looking for this hamster. I’d take things to school in my pocket. I remember one Easter, I got Easter clothes and I said, “Mom, it’s Friday, it’s the last week of school, can I wear my Easter clothes?” She says, “Yes, but don’t get them dirty.” Well, then the morning I started out to school and I heard the frogs croaking in the swamp, in the willows. So I make a detour to the right, go up there, and get in there, start catching these turtles and fish and put them in my underwear and my socks, everywhere I could put them, and I was a mess, I had all those clothes on too. My mother got after me and I was running around the house like this, and I slid under the bed.

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My mother had a broom stick and she got down and she tried to get me under the bed.

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My aunt, Bonnie, said, “Mildred, Mildred, you’re gonna hurt him.” She said, “I’m not gonna hurt him, I’m going to kill him.” (laughs) Well, now, when did you start to think about, I wanna work with animals?

00:13:43 - 00:13:46

Was that when you were at the zoo?

00:13:46 - 00:14:43

For some reason, I was fascinated with things in nature, for some reason. But my mother helped me along with that. I always wanted to be… I would go out and catch something like a possum or whatever. I’d bring it back on a pole like Frank Book, bring them back alive, bring it back to the house, put it in the cage and feed it until possums we fed them table scrap for a while before we ate them. So, as I said, it was… We’d raise hogs. The thing about it is, raising things that you have to kill puts you in a whole different mindset.

00:14:43 - 00:15:01

Because most people in those days in the hills, they all raised their own foods, hogs, cows ate, slaughtered them. I helped clean hogs every October when it got cool. We put hogs in boiling water and scraped them and butchered them.

00:15:07 - 00:15:09

But did you think you were gonna be working with animals?

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Is that the career you thought?

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What did you think about what you wanted to do in life?

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How did that start to come about?

00:15:19 - 00:15:51

Well, as I said, I used to catch everything I could catch and I’d observe everything I could. I’d crawl on my belly for a half a mile just to get a look at a coot in water. I never had to worry about or give a thought about what I wanted to do. For some reason, my head was geared, my heart was geared for working with animals.

00:15:51 - 00:16:14

In fact, my first wife, my first ex-wife, at her home, her father said, “What are you gonna do for a living?” I said, “I’ll train animals and break horses.” He said to his wife, “Peg, did you hear what he said?” And this is a city boy from New York, “Did you hear what he said?

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He’s gonna break horses and fool with animals. Can you believe anybody could do something like that?” Well, that’s what I did, and I was very blessed by it.

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What schooling did you have?

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Yeah. No air conditioning, it’s two grades, sometimes three in one room with one teacher and had an outhouse. In fact, the outhouse was out near the playground. I remember Halloween, we played tricks on things like that. So we tied a rope around the outhouse at school and tied it to the old train going to Chattanooga, and it went bouncing down the track outhouse in the school.

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So this was when you were in Tennessee?

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Then from there, were you able to go to high school?

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I went to high school, yes. I was a sophomore and we moved from Madisonville to Knoxville. Then that’s where I had water in the house and toilets in the house, and things like that.

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And when did you get your first real job, where they’re paying you money?

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My first real job was working on a friends’ farm and castrated bulls.

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How old were you?

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Calves, steers, they were steers after we did it. I’d grab a whole one by the tail to hang in there. Bob Joles, he was the biggest bootlegger in all of East Tennessee, a very nice guy, but very wealthy, made all the Moonshine. My family made Moonshine. I remember grabbing onto a steer and I was hanging onto the tail and the thing went to the fence and dragged me through the fence. Bob Giles us up there, “Hang in there, Dubb, hang in there, Dubb.” I got drove these briars and barbed wire and everything else.

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So it was- They paid you money?

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They paid you money for that?

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Well, yeah, I got a little money for that. But I was out there hauling corn too. And then also worked in tobacco patches where we had to pull the blooms off or top them or dust them. I did things with deldron, andron, and malathion without a shirt on it and sprayed all over me.

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How old were you?

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I was in high school.

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High school?

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What’d your father do?

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My father was a salesman. He was in World War II, came home, and then he worked for American Tobacco Company and then Johnson Wax Company. He had worked as a salesperson most of his life. He killed himself at 43, committed suicide. I wasn’t very close to him, but I missed him.

00:19:56 - 00:19:59

And your mom, she was a housewife or she did other things?

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Housewife most of her life. There were four children, I was the oldest, and there was one girl and three boys.

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It was a struggle, but the- Did they understand your love of nature?

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Oh, yeah.

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Or they were doing other things?

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I had a cousin in Pensacola, Florida, was my uncle Jake’s daughter, and she was my cousin. There was a song that came out called Nature Boy, you may have remembered that, I don’t know. ♪ Nature, boy ♪ ♪ A strange enchanted boy ♪ Well, she was always singing it to me, called me nature boy. Of course my cousins and aunts, children, things like that, guess where I took them, I took them to Sky Pond, Laudis Pond we called it. I’d take them over there and they’d be in their best clothes and I’d get them in the mud catching turtles. I was not a very popular kid on that hill, I was not.

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My uncle, Uncle Frank said, “Go home and tell your mother she needs you.” Now, from Knoxville, where you were living, where did you go after Knoxville?

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You moved somewhere else?

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From Knoxville, I left home, I wasn’t getting along with my dad. I left home and went to my girlfriend’s house and they let me come in there, that was a mistake. Her mother let me come in and live with them. Well, I’m a teenage boy and hornier than a four peppered billy goat, so I hope nobody tapped that (laughs). But my dad, I was this in class at Baendin High School, my dad comes up, goes to biology class and says, “Come here.” He said, “Come here, get in the car.” So I got in the car, drove me down the town Knoxville, “Yes, I will. I’ll do it.” I was in the army, I was on the bus. Best thing it ever happened to me, the best thing it ever happened to me. I got my GED when I got out of the service and I did very well in the service. I was promoted, always in charge of something, and was a tank commander.

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What years was this?

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Early ’50s. I went to Korea in the early ’50s, I was there for 16 months. That was my first experience being out of town, and 30 days on the ship going and 30 days on the ship coming back. That was a great experience. Korea was totally different than it is now, it was all shacks and people walking around with bundles of sticks on their back to make a fire. It was really primitive.

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Did you learn any life lessons there that stood you a good stead later on in life?

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Well, I was always very interested and I always like people, I like to talk to people. And I’d be in the village a lot because I was also running the PX and the laundry shop and the tailor shop and the camera shop. So I got to go to Seoul and do the collections, to bring all the cameras back and guns back and things like that. But I spent a lot of time in the village. I’d sneak out, I wasn’t supposed to be there. I’d go out and I bought them chickens and rabbits and taught English to them, I even helped deliver a baby. They cut themselves, I’d get just a plain needle and thread and I sew them boogers up like a surgeon and they get well. In those days too, there was a lot of gonorrhea in the soldiers because they were out fooling around.

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What was happening, some of these Korean quacks would give them antibiotics, penicillin, and it was Jergens lotion not penicillin, and their butts almost fell off, it was terrible. I didn’t have any, I never got it.

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So you’re in the army, what was your rank?

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I came out as an E-5.

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Where do you go after the army?

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I went to Albany, New York because my mother and dad had moved while I was on the ship. They had moved from Tennessee up to Albany, New York. Now, this is a crazy story. So I got a cab, I flew up in a DC-3, got a cab, and I didn’t know they had moved. But I was in the neighborhood and I kept driving, I saw this woman carrying groceries, it was my mother in Albany, New York walking from the store. I say, “This is mom.” So I got out and that’s how I got home and found out where they lived because they moved while I was onboard a ship.

00:25:49 - 00:25:54

So how do you get a job in Albany, New York?

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I worked for a veterinarian, I got a job working for a veterinarian. Then I went to school, got my GED there.

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After the veterinarian, what did you do for the vet?

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Everything he told me to, cleaning kennels, holding dogs, cats, shampooing dogs.

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After that stint with the veterinarian, you are there for a year, more than that, where do you go after that?

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I’m trying to think, I think I went back to Tennessee after that. Yes, I went back to Tennessee.

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What was your next big job?

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Working at the University of Tennessee in the department of entomology. I made 47 cents an hour, that was my big job. I dealt with these chemicals and killing insects and things.

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Did you still think about wanting to work with animals?

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00:27:00 - 00:27:03

Were you still thinking about to work with animals?

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Oh, yeah, I felt that. I had animals around me all the time, one way or the other. I had dogs that would do anything for me.

00:27:12 - 00:27:17

– So now you leave the university?

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00:27:18 - 00:27:21

What’s your next job?

00:27:26 - 00:28:20

I think my next job was… Because 1965, you are working with Litton Industries. That was Job Corps, that war on poverty during the Johnson administration. Well, I developed a, this thing was a war on poverty and it was somewhat good and somewhat absolutely a waste. But they’d put these television sets in these barracks for these kids, Job Corps kids. Some of them were just inner city kids and some were out country bumpskins. They would take the TVs and go and sell them, roll up the carpets and sell that. They give them tickets for vinyl records.

00:28:23 - 00:28:35

They didn’t know how to hold a fork, and they scalped those dinner tickets and things. So those kids were pretty smart.

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How did you get involved with that job?

00:28:38 - 00:30:03

Because I had some agricultural experience, of course, living in farming and animals and things. So they put me in. I got this job and I developed the Job Corps Agricultural School. I’m not a qualified teacher, but I had all these kids and I found out these kids, they loved to fight, they love to kill stuff, and they love money. So I got a bunch of rabbits and I got a bunch of chickens and I got these Job Corp kids. I’d say, “Now look, you got a record, you got to keep this. I wanna know how much feed is going in this pen for these chickens and how much feed…” I said, “Now I wanna show you something.” I knew that they liked sex, so I’d breed the rabbit and they’d say, “Oh, look at them go.” The rabbit would breed, they’d fall over like he is dead after he bred. Then I said, “Now, 28 days for now, you’re gonna have babies, your rabbits will have babies.” 28 days later, they had babies.

00:30:03 - 00:31:23

Then they raised those babies up, then we slaughtered them, and I showed them how to slaughter and dressed them. And we sold it to the cadre, the teachers at the Job Corps, we sold that stuff, eggs. Then I got Ward Bond’s brother, I was horsey then, I loved horses too. Ward Bond’s brother, the actor’s brother, gave us some Mustangs, gave me some Mustangs for that farm program. These kids, as I said, liked to fight and they liked to see breeding and all that stuff. Then they were really very untrained, uncivilized kids a lot of them. So I gave them all the horse and I said, “It’s your horse, you train it, it’s yours.” Well, by the time those horses got to throwing them off and biting them and kicking them in their ass, they’d tamed down a little bit and I would ride the horse. I’d ride a horse, and these kids were all inner city kids or something, and they was scared of me.

00:31:23 - 00:31:42

If they did something wrong, I’d ride after them with my horse, I’d ride right into the barracks to get them on this horse like a Spaniard going into to South Florida. So I kept things going pretty well in order doing those things.

00:31:42 - 00:31:43

This was in California?

00:31:43 - 00:31:45

Yeah, Camp Parks.

00:31:46 - 00:31:59

And based on that again, were there any life lessons that stood you in good stead for your future endeavors in the animal world, aside from keeping people in line?

00:31:59 - 00:32:48

Well, I’d take the kids to ranches and things like that. We’d castrate horses and cows and all that stuff. Then I’d take them to Oakland Zoo and meet the two directors there and things like that in Oakland. So if there was no animals, then I made sure there we had animals somewhere. We’d start with animals wherever we went because kids today, hell, I get 14 year old kids scared of a chicken and say, “Oh, your turkeys are out.” And it’s not turkeys, just guinea fouls, there’s a lot of difference.

00:32:48 - 00:33:01

What was one of the most unusual things that happened with your kids and you during that tenure when you were running the animal care and farms program?

00:33:04 - 00:33:45

Well, I think I tried to build a little pride in those guys, those kids. Then finally we were able to go into parades, the California parades with our horses and things like that. That built a lot of camaraderie and build a lot of professionalism with these children, with these young boys. I’m still in touch with them, Laura Wade, we talked to him recently. He was a black guy, young man, and a sidekick, and he had done very well.

00:33:48 - 00:34:03

So in later years, were you able to use that philosophy when you had your own zoo, to build up rapport and understanding about the animals and the care of your staff?

00:34:03 - 00:34:04

Did that help frame that?

00:34:04 - 00:34:06

Sure, yeah.

00:34:08 - 00:34:16

And just as quickly as an aside, did you know George Foreman from Camp Park?

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00:34:17 - 00:34:19

How did that come about?

00:34:19 - 00:34:55

Well, he was one of the kids in the Corps. And he was a boxer then and an athlete, and I was proud of him because he did very well. Because these kids in those days, these kids had little opportunity to do better. But I think some of the influence that they got from Job Corps helped them.

00:34:56 - 00:35:04

So you were the big boss there, what style would you say you had when you were running this place?

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And how would you describe yourself as?

00:35:08 - 00:35:34

Well, I wasn’t a big boss, I had bosses over me in the administration buildings, things like that. I was out there to train Corps men and teach them a little math and how to weigh food and how to make money with the food and sell it to the cadre. But it sounds like you were a tough guy and you had to be tough in order to deal with these kids.

00:35:34 - 00:35:37

Or did you have a different style?

00:35:37 - 00:36:05

Well, if I got on the horse, I was tough. But I never had to fight one, I never had to put my hands on one, for some reason it worked. I think that it worked not because of me, it worked because of the animals that they had to take care of, they learned a lot doing that. Now, my first question is about the Northwest Florida Zoological Society.

00:36:05 - 00:36:08

How did that come to be?

00:36:08 - 00:36:09

How did it start?

00:36:14 - 00:37:35

I had some friends out that were into birds, pheasants and pigeons and things like that. We would visit each other and we’d talk about what we could do maybe with this urge we had to raise our animals and things. And we communicated, but my friends, Jim, Dr. Potter, Dr. Psaki, Dr. Aaronson, kept them in the loop while this was going on. We were all very close, like family almost. Northwest Florida Zoological Society. You formed the Northwest Florida Zoological Society. You got your 501(c)(3) and you were all just going to schools, taking the animals, doing talks, trying to build up interest in Pensacola, Florida for someday having a zoo in Pensacola. Everywhere I went, and I still do today, I talk about zoos everywhere, everybody I meet.

00:37:35 - 00:38:33

So you are part of this group of people who want to have this dream of a zoo in Pensacola, and you’re able to acquire a small amount of land. Not yet, not yet. At that point, they did not have any property. So you just have the zoo society. Zoo society that wanted to have a zoo. And Pat, he wanted to get into the zoo business, he wanted to work at a zoo. He saw an ad in the AAZPA publication for zoo director in San Francisco, Fleishhacker Zoo at the time, Carrie Baldwin was the director. He applied for the position, went out for an interview and was hired.

00:38:35 - 00:39:06

So when you left Pensacola, there was no zoo, there was just this dream of a zoo. Yes. Dream of a zoo. You take this job in San Francisco and you move your whole family there. No, he goes out alone, his family stayed in Pensacola. So you are there at the Fleishhacker Zoo, now the San Francisco Zoo, tell me about that experience.

00:39:07 - 00:39:10

Were you excited?

00:39:10 - 00:39:12

Did the director meet you with open arms?

00:39:12 - 00:39:14

What kind of zoo did you find?

00:39:14 - 00:39:23

Carrie Baldwin loved you. Carrie Baldwin was the director then, and he was a dear friend and had a lot of energy.

00:39:29 - 00:39:33

Carrie Baldwin, what kind of director would you call him?

00:39:33 - 00:39:36

What was his director’s style, tough guy?

00:39:38 - 00:39:40

How did he run the zoo?

00:39:40 - 00:40:38

A very personal guy, good personality, people liked him, he was easy going. One of the things that I noticed at San Francisco Zoo when I first went there, is that they had a union there. And they’d strike on some reason or other. I had trouble getting my car in to feed animals and they would beat my car up and all kinds of stuff. Because I’m going in to feed the animals, and I got through it, but that was not very realistic to me because I didn’t know what a union was coming out of the hills of Tennessee. You did what you had to do. Picketing, they wouldn’t let us come in the zoo, had the gates closed, that was a terrible time. I remember.

00:40:38 - 00:40:40

Did the director live on the zoo grounds?

00:40:40 - 00:40:41


00:40:41 - 00:40:42

Had a house there?

00:40:42 - 00:40:47

Had a house there, Carrie did, yes. But you did not live on the grounds. No.

00:40:48 - 00:41:00

You work at the zoo, are you happy working at the zoo or are people not allowing you to do the work you want to do?

00:41:00 - 00:41:10

Well, I wasn’t allowed to do things I would like to do because I wanted more hands on and I couldn’t do that. I did bring some things up.

00:41:10 - 00:41:14

I raised a little baby peccary, what else?

00:41:17 - 00:41:21

What were your responsibilities as director of the Children’s Zoo?

00:41:21 - 00:41:40

Making sure the animals were well and make sure the staff was doing their job. I didn’t have my staff, I was most of the staff. And you did some television work because I remember one of our first dates, you were had just come back from a TV station, you had a zoo mobile that was our transportation, big truck.

00:41:41 - 00:41:44

How did you two guys meet?

00:41:44 - 00:42:15

I worked my last two years of college at Fleishhacker Zoo, worked my way through, that was my job. Full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. I loved that job because I was a starving student, and while I was at work, I worked in the concessions in the Children’s Zoo, not with animals. While I worked there, you could eat all you wanted to. So I survived on hot dogs and Baby Ruth candy bars and things like that.

00:42:15 - 00:42:19

Rode my bicycle up and back to the zoo, lived out by the beach, remember?

00:42:19 - 00:43:08

Yeah. I served Pat a cup of coffee and I had just seen the movie “Lawrence of Arabia.” At the time in my eyes, Pat looked exactly like Peter O’Toole, who I had fallen in love with when I saw the movie. Served him this coffee and that was like it, then he kept coming to me for coffee. Then one day, and I told my mother that I was scared that maybe he was gonna ask me out on a date. Then one day I was behind the concession stand and you came back there and asked me if you could take me out on a date. No, you were on your knees begging me to take me out. And that was- Two different stories. That was the first date.

00:43:08 - 00:43:42

He had gone to a television station and picked me up. It was funny because I remember that I was, if I remember correctly, I was dressed very casually, sling sandals and very casual and you were all dressed up. Long hair. Long hair looking like a hippie, I was a hippie. And you were in a suit, I remember that. So while Pat, you’re working at the zoo directing, the Children Zoo, you’re dating but not married. No. But you’re dating.

00:43:42 - 00:43:53

We dated for three years. Now, at some point in time, there are circumstances, tell us about it, that make you want to leave the San Francisco Zoo.

00:43:54 - 00:43:59

What were those circumstances and why did you leave?

00:44:01 - 00:44:18

His name was Jack, but I don’t remember the last name. But you were unhappy with some management things. Yeah, I was very unhappy with the management. And he was not a zoologist, he wasn’t a biologist, he was mostly just a bureaucrat.

00:44:18 - 00:44:19

Your boss?

00:44:19 - 00:44:21

Yeah. He had to deal with the board.

00:44:21 - 00:44:28

He’s actually the gentleman that did interview Pat for the job and hired him rather than Carrie, correct?

00:44:28 - 00:44:35

He actually hired you, but then I remember you were not getting along and so you decided to leave.

00:44:37 - 00:44:40

So you made the decision to quit the San Francisco Zoo?

00:44:40 - 00:44:41


00:44:43 - 00:44:45

What did you do?

00:44:45 - 00:44:47

Were you then still dating?

00:44:47 - 00:44:50

Yes. Still dating.

00:44:50 - 00:44:52

So you quit the zoo, what do you do after you quit the zoo?

00:44:52 - 00:44:56

You gotta make some money, where did you go?

00:44:56 - 00:45:42

You went- Ghirardelli. Ghirardelli. Ghirardelli Square. Tell me about that. Ghirardelli Square near the Warf in San Francisco. The gentleman there was a Greek guy and he wanted to have some activity with birds and things there. So we ended up with some penguins, I got some penguins from Brian Hunt, and we started doing a show with these penguins. Then we got an otter from Brian, was trying to work otters into that thing too, a show.

00:45:46 - 00:46:25

I wasn’t that happy there I don’t think because I didn’t stay there. Then Litton must have come around, Litton Industries. Litton industries was opening Job Corps in Camp Parks. And you applied for that job. I got it. They had a farm program, I remember that. They wanted you to lead the farm or you developed the farm program. Well, the farm program had two radiated sheep, one crippled horse, and something wrong with a goat, four things.

00:46:26 - 00:47:25

And there was a little pen. So when I got there, I started politicking and when I left there, we had a new barn, we finally got a new barn in and had hutches of rabbits and pens of chickens and peacocks and guineas, and all kinds of things. And he had the only program at Camp Parks that paid for itself, which was really something. He was staffer of the week at one time. We sold rabbits, we sold chickens, we raised all this stuff and made money with it. You had a group of kids you had to manage. Mostly kids, a lot of minority kids and Foreman was one of them. And his program was very successful and they worshiped him, he was amazing.

00:47:25 - 00:47:29

Did you find it hard to get these kids to cooperate?

00:47:29 - 00:47:30


00:47:30 - 00:47:33

Or what was your strategy to get them to work together?

00:47:35 - 00:47:53

I just took them and introduced them to a lot of experiences and riding the horses and breaking the horses and getting the back of a pickup truck, throwing rocks at jackrabbits, all the things that young guys like to do.

00:47:53 - 00:47:57

How would you describe your style of management then?

00:47:57 - 00:48:00

Were you a tough guy or disciplinarian?

00:48:01 - 00:48:10

No, I think I’m pretty soft to a point, and then I’m not very soft.

00:48:11 - 00:48:12

Did you let these kids get away with things?

00:48:12 - 00:48:20

No. I hope so, no. Give me an example.

00:48:21 - 00:48:22

An example?

00:48:22 - 00:48:41

Yeah, did you have to… Well, they had to report to work and they had to keep their paperwork up on what their food bill was and their breeding programs and all that stuff. I think that program today is very needed in this country, I really do.

00:48:45 - 00:48:49

So you think this program was good for the young men that you were managing?

00:48:49 - 00:49:15

Oh yeah. They could see success. When you put an egg under a hen, 21 days later, you got a chicken, that’s success. You mentioned George Foreman, who became heavyweight champion of the world.

00:49:15 - 00:49:16

How did you know him?

00:49:16 - 00:49:55

What was his- He was one of the camp boys. Well, I saw him when we did our exercises and things, I’d see him in there. Pat was so proud of him years later when he’d see how famous he became. You did this job, running the farm camp, but then after that, you were called back to Florida or someone contacted you for the Northwest Florida Zoological Society. They had a zoo or they wanted to build a zoo. Wanted to build a zoo.

00:49:55 - 00:49:59

So you made the decision what, to go?

00:49:59 - 00:50:50

Go back. Because the concept of the zoo in the first place came from my interest and trying to get a zoo there. So my heart was still in Pensacola, that was part of my dream, to get a zoo in Pensacola. Charlie Stokowski a veterinarian friend who had been involved he was the president of the Zoological Society. He wrote you a letter saying, “Pat, we need you. We can afford to pay you now, can you please come back as our director?” So actually I think you went to Pensacola to talk to Charles and interview and you made the decision that you would go back to Pensacola. Then I spent a lot of time going to rotary clubs, Silverton Clubs, The Lion Club doing public speaking. Spoke all the time.

00:50:50 - 00:51:02

I did a lot of radio, some TV about the zoo. I was like chewing gum and chicken shit, I was everywhere.

00:51:02 - 00:51:11

So when you came back, there was a physical zoo or you developed the physical zoo?

00:51:11 - 00:51:12

We developed the zoo.

00:51:12 - 00:51:17

How did you go about developing the physical zoo?

00:51:17 - 00:51:58

You got land from someone, you had to get animals. I had people who donated chain link fence or donated a building, in fact our feed building was donated. That’s where we’ve had to keep the feed and dry it and get the rats out. So we had some help there The zoo was in the wrong damn place, it was seven miles down a dirt road, and nobody went down there. Tell me about the first location of the zoo. Was a one acre. That was- Pensacola. A place you developed.

00:51:58 - 00:52:00


00:52:00 - 00:52:05

Then you got some new land, how’d you get new land?

00:52:05 - 00:52:45

Got new land from St. Regis. They’re the ones that gave us the possibility of 80 acres. We didn’t use 80 acres, but gave us the possibility. You worked with Frank Westmark. Frank Westmark was the public relations guy for St. Regis Paper Company, and he was a friend of mine. We hunted together. So you moved the animals from the first location to the second location, this 80 acres. Wasn’t many animals then, but we did move them, yes.

00:52:45 - 00:52:46

Hard to move them, easy to move them?

00:52:46 - 00:52:47


00:52:47 - 00:52:48


00:52:48 - 00:53:03

Because we had crates ready and we had drugs ready, we had veterinarians ready, we had ropes ready, and I had some experience with moving animals in the past.

00:53:03 - 00:53:12

So now you get these animals to this new area far away from the beaten path, and you start to develop this new location?

00:53:12 - 00:53:13


00:53:13 - 00:53:17

Hard, easy, you lived on it 24 hours, where’d you live?

00:53:17 - 00:53:53

Lived on it 24 hours. We built sidewalks so people could walk around, it used to be just pine straw, we built the sidewalks. And everything was donated. Pat was unbelievable at getting things donated. He was really… One of his strong suits has always been public relations. And he was very much a people person, and he was out in the community, he was everywhere. Everybody knew who he was, everybody heard Pat Quinn, and still do, and associated him with the zoo.

00:53:53 - 00:54:52

He got our home donated, which was the upper floor of an army barracks. Eventually it was plumbed, but initially we would wash our dishes at spigots inside of the park and then walk back to the army barracks where we were living. Our son, Noah, had just been born, just a little baby. A whole group of plumbers came out as eventually and plumbed things for us, but it was always volunteer. So things weren’t necessarily finished by the volunteers at the same time. So that we had a bucket under the sink, where you washed your hands, that caught the water from the sink, we did have running water eventually to the barracks. Then I would take that water, and that’s how we would flush the toilet. The bathtub was plumbed, but you could put your hand like this and your soap would slip under the house.

00:54:52 - 00:54:55

So the cat could come in and out behind the bathtub.

00:54:55 - 00:54:57

There was a big hole in the ceiling, you remember that?

00:54:57 - 00:55:23

I had a pet screech owl and the screech owl would fly up into the rafters of the ceiling of the barracks in the daytime and then come down at night. But he was a funny little screech owl, we named him Owly. Very original name, afraid of dark. The only owl that afraid of a mouse. It’d take one look at a mouse and- Go the other way. Go the other way as fast as possible.

00:55:23 - 00:55:27

How did you acquire the animals for this new zoo?

00:55:27 - 00:55:37

Well, some like the bear were donated Sun bear. Some people had a sun bear that they didn’t want anymore.

00:55:37 - 00:55:39

The Hyenas, were they from Brian?

00:55:39 - 00:55:49

They were on loan from Brian Hunt. Brian Hunt. And we could lay down with those hyenas, we could go into the pen with them, remember, and sit down on the ground with them. They’d walk around the zoo.

00:55:50 - 00:55:52

And we had what cats?

00:55:54 - 00:56:57

We had white tail wildebeest, we had ostrich, we had- Camels. Had emu and had two camels. Oh, tell them about your incident with the ostrich. I was herding some ostrich down on a hill. It was supposed to be real cold that night or whatever it was. As I ran down behind the ostriches, I was gonna to jump over this fence. My buddy on my right side raised the rope just as I started to cross the fence across the ditch there, and I went head first into the concrete. I reached up and felt my head was sticky, I thought I was filling my brains and I had scalped myself.

00:57:00 - 00:58:03

Dr. Bud Pugh took you to the hospital, told me not to worry, I had to stay at the house with Noah. He took you to the hospital. So he took me to the hospital and had an accident. Doctor says, “What happened to you?” I said, “Well, the ostrich knocked me down.” He went out to bud and he says, “Is guy on drugs?” Then remember, tell them about the camel incident with the young man that now is so successful with the salon. Simmons. I had this young man named Lee Simmons. And he said, “Now I love these camels, I just love these camels, I could understand these camels.” Well, one day I was inside their house and then there was chain link fence here, six feet up. I looked out and I saw a camel on top of this young man and the camel had his mouth on his ankle. I could see that camel had his leg in his bite.

00:58:10 - 00:58:40

So I go, I jump the fence, hook myself on the fence and cut myself under here on the wire trying to get over to… I took a two by four about eight feet long, and I hit that damn camel from top to him and it broke the two by four in half, so I used the four part. And that camel was gonna kill him. I beat that camel so bad actually that every time I told that camel to move, he’d moved his ass wherever I told him to go.

00:58:40 - 00:58:41

Now, this was someone who worked for you?

00:58:41 - 00:58:58

Yeah. A volunteer, we had lots of volunteers. Pat had a docent program. He had a docent program and he had lots of women that were from the Garden Club from, oh gosh, Flower club. Now, you mentioned this gentleman’s name was Lee Simmons. Yes.

00:58:58 - 00:59:01

Was the gentleman who became Dr. Lee Simmons?

00:59:01 - 00:59:16

No, he was just a kid. No, but I say it wasn’t the same person. Was his name Lee Simmons? No, Simmons. I don’t think so, I think Lee Simmons, I don’t think his name is Lee. So you were able to protect this guy. Yeah.

00:59:16 - 00:59:27

Now, you’re at the zoo, you’re running it, you’re trying to build it, but then why did you leave the zoo, the Northwest Florida Zoological?

00:59:27 - 00:59:28

Why did you leave?

00:59:28 - 00:59:28

What happened?

00:59:28 - 01:00:10

Because a fellow by the name of Bill York was bringing the Northern white rhino, the only one in North America, bringing it through to take it to San Diego Zoo. That’s right. To mate up with a female northern white rhino. So he came through and he stopped over. stayed with us. Stayed a couple days to rest the animal and he rested. I was impressed with Bill, he was pretty vocal, and he had a British accent and been in Africa and I hadn’t been there and just switched me on about Africa.

01:00:16 - 01:00:17

So, where was I?

01:00:19 - 01:00:27

And he offered you a much better salary. Zoological Society was not able to pay much.

01:00:27 - 01:00:31

So in your conversations with him at that time, he liked you?

01:00:31 - 01:01:06

Yeah, he liked me. And he said, “Do you want to come to Lion Country?” I said, yeah. And he told me how much he’d pay me, and so it was a good challenge and a step up for me. All of the people that were on Pat’s board at the Northwest Florida Zoological Society were all his friends and they felt that they agreed with him. He came to them and they agreed with him that there was a great opportunity for him to go to work for Lion Country.

01:01:06 - 01:01:11

You interviewed the fellow that would replace you, and he was a friend, remember?

01:01:11 - 01:01:56

They hired, I can’t even think of his name now. And he’s still in the zoo business, but I cannot think of his name, anyway. During his tenure, Pat’s replacement’s tenure, the park finally didn’t make it, they always had huge financial problems. The St. Regis property was beautiful, but it was so far out. In the summertime, the long road was very dusty. It rains in Florida almost every day, and when it rained, the road became like a river. So it was a beautiful piece of property, but it was too far out for the general public in Canton, at Spring Lake. So eventually, they had to sell all their animals and they had to close the park.

01:01:56 - 01:01:59

But pat was at Lion Country during that period of time.

01:01:59 - 01:02:04

So what position were you offered at Lion Country?

01:02:05 - 01:02:09

I was offered a vice presidency, wasn’t I?

01:02:09 - 01:02:32

I was zoological director. Zoological director initially, and when Bill left, you were promoted to vice president of all of these safari parks. Three parks. So let’s talk about, so you go there as zoological director to California. Tell me about Lion Country.

01:02:32 - 01:02:34

What kind of place was it?

01:02:34 - 01:03:23

Lion Country was a- Corporate. Lion Country was an innovator of the open drive through parks. Lion Country was owned by South Africans. Harry Schuster. Harris Schuster, Monte Copel and one other guy, and they were south Africans and they had a line park in South Africa, they developed one there, so they brought it to America. The first one was built in South Florida, then they built another one in California, then they built another one in Virginia. So it spread that drive your car through lions and elephants and things like that. So it was a new thing going on.

01:03:23 - 01:04:36

One of the great things with Pat at Lion Country Safari, so many things, but one of them was that he was, the drug companies had asked him to do experimentation, it was in the early stages of a lot of immobilizaton drugs. Pat had the opportunity of working with these drugs, taking notes, I was a non-veterinarian working with a lot of them but I had a lot of animals to work on. I kept mixing drugs and trying to get a purple-red, green drug that would work. I went to Tufts University and demonstrated mobilization of goats and things like that. That’s later on. But at Lion Country, the University of California at Irvine was interested in Pat, and he started teaching classes there. Actually that’s when you started first taking groups to Africa. Because their laboratory classroom, which was, you had the lecture series during the school year and then the laboratory classroom, which was worth an additional six units.

01:04:36 - 01:05:04

If they did that, you would take them to Africa for their laboratory classroom. At that time, we’d spend three weeks in Africa, and I was with the first group in ’73. We spent half the time in South Africa and half the time in East Africa. This is in the days when a trip to Africa was $2,500, and we brought our own sleeping bags and had our clothing rolled up in the sleeping bag.

01:05:04 - 01:05:06

Do you remember that?

01:05:06 - 01:05:20

Let me ask, before we go to Africa, let me ask the question about your zoo director for a Lion Country in California. You have people now, you’re the director, you have people working for you.

01:05:20 - 01:05:26

What was your management style to run that organization of those people working?

01:05:26 - 01:05:29

Was it like the camps when you were doing it?

01:05:29 - 01:05:31

Or how did you find the management?

01:05:31 - 01:05:36

Because now you’re a manager of all these people or a couple of people at least.

01:05:36 - 01:05:38

How did you find them?

01:05:38 - 01:05:49

Well, I geared everything on the condition of the animals and the condition of the paddocks and pens, and if they weren’t right, I wasn’t happy.

01:05:51 - 01:05:57

I remember had a guy when I was at Benson’s Animal Park, his name was, what was his name?

01:05:57 - 01:06:20

He was drunk all the time. He had to run the water wagon in Benson’s Animal Park, he’d fill up the water wagon. He draws that wagon around and I watched him do it one day. And here’s an animal lying on the ground dead, and he goes by puts this water in the tank and comes back.

01:06:20 - 01:06:24

I said, “How’s that wildebeest doing down there?

01:06:24 - 01:06:37

And he said, “Oh, he’s doing good.” I said, “When did he die?” He said, “He’s not dead.” I said, “He’s dead.” He went in there to water and do something in the pen and didn’t even notice the animal was dead.

01:06:37 - 01:06:43

Well, now at the Lion Country, you had to get animals for Lion Country?

01:06:43 - 01:06:50

I went to Africa and came back with some rhinos and zebras, yes. Tell me about that.

01:06:50 - 01:06:52

Did they tell you to go get animals?

01:06:52 - 01:06:54

Did you make the decision you needed animals?

01:06:54 - 01:07:00

No, well, they told me we needed- They were surplus, weren’t they?

01:07:00 - 01:07:41

They needed me to go and accompany these animals back. That was the last time we did a shipment of animals on ships from then on, after that happened, they left Africa, and 16 hours later, there were in Texas. That’s how we figured out flying those things out. We fly eight young rhinos about third grown, fly them. Instead of having 30 days of shoveling manure and animals being banged around in the crates, which was a horrible thing, we approved it.

01:07:50 - 01:07:54

You were on the ship, so you took a shipment on the ship?

01:07:55 - 01:08:49

Yes. Tell me about the experience. I had some interesting experiences. One was I got into heavy seas and my drugs fell off the chest and some of my drugs broke, the tranquilizer stuff. I fell over, I got over on the outside trying to check these crate and things, and I got tossed out. I had a leather glove on, and when I fell over the side, I had the leather their glove. The barbs in the wire caught my glove or I’d have been gone in the middle. It’d be like the story from the sailor that stuttered and he could sing.

01:08:49 - 01:09:09

And the captain said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “Da, da, da, da, da, da.” He said, “Sing it Joe, sing it.” ♪ Oh, captain me fell overboard ♪ ♪ He’s a mile and a half behind ♪ So they literally saved you?

01:09:09 - 01:09:11

Yeah, I saved myself.

01:09:16 - 01:09:25

You talked about Lion Country being different at the time, what unique problems come up from a drive through?

01:09:25 - 01:09:28

What did you find that were different from keeping animals in a cage?

01:09:28 - 01:09:53

Well, first of all, you had people driving through with vehicles with dangerous animals running around. And once in a while, somebody rolled that damn window down and get caught by a lion or something, Or they drive a car in with leather tops on them, well, the baboons took care of that real quick, they just tore everything up.

01:09:53 - 01:09:54

Remember the grandmother?

01:09:54 - 01:09:55


01:09:55 - 01:09:58

Remember the grandmother with the kids in the back seat?

01:09:58 - 01:10:02

Yeah. Grandmother rolling her window down. Rolled the window down and boy that lion got her head.

01:10:02 - 01:10:05

She thought she reversed it, didn’t she?

01:10:06 - 01:10:14

She thought she was whirling the window up and instead she rolled it down and the lion got her. She was in the hospital for a long time. Scalped her big time.

01:10:17 - 01:10:18

What about the guy that hand raised the lion?

01:10:18 - 01:10:35

Remember Craig, he trusted the lions too much. Hand raised a lion, and then the lion eventually Got him. Got him. Put him in the hospital for months, months and months. I don’t remember his name.

01:10:36 - 01:10:43

So you had a lot of difficulties, both with the staff and with people when they would go through this drive through?

01:10:43 - 01:11:02

Well, yeah. Of course in those days, this was the ’70s, and pot was very popular in California then. So we had one guy was taking Sunland and died with a Sunland dose.

01:11:06 - 01:11:09

That was called angel dust, I think they called it, correct?

01:11:09 - 01:11:12

You are correct, sir. Yeah, I think so.

01:11:12 - 01:11:18

Now, how difficult was it competing with other attractions in California?

01:11:18 - 01:11:22

Was Lion Country popular or was Disney popular?

01:11:22 - 01:11:50

It was popular because there was no other place doing something like that. And it was expensive to run. I bought shares in the company and the shares went up from what, went up to $28 or something like that. Her dad bought shares and he sold it, I didn’t. I think it’s worth about a penny and a half now.

01:11:50 - 01:11:59

So you are running the zoological attraction, you’re a member of AZA?

01:11:59 - 01:12:03

As director, did you have people you would talk with?

01:12:03 - 01:12:10

And if you had problems or issues, who did you go to in the zoo community that you respected?

01:12:10 - 01:12:33

I’d go to veterinarian friends, number one. Also I had friends in the industry that. Frank Todd, you would call. Frank Todd was a good friend of mine. It was a vet that you would call that would fly, I don’t know what his name was. He used to fly all over the world and take care of the movie stories. You’d call him. Marty redheaded guy, he was a vet.

01:12:37 - 01:12:40

Would you tell us who Frank Todd is?

01:12:40 - 01:12:42


01:12:42 - 01:12:52

Frank Todd was the curator of bird for SeaWorld. He was the one that ran the penguin show of it, handled all the birds, a good on waterfowl.

01:12:55 - 01:12:57

Would you talk with other directors of zoos?

01:12:57 - 01:13:22

Oh yeah, we’d meet conferences, we talked. We would visit other places too and we’d get different ideas from each other. Now there are different problems in an open air, safari-like atmosphere than there are in what I would call a zoo that has caging.

01:13:22 - 01:13:26

What were some of those differences that you saw, aside from the people getting their heads?

01:13:26 - 01:14:13

Well, it didn’t happen often. Well you got interaction, you get animals in heat, you get males fighting. So all that stuff takes place, that happens in the wild. It’s not like you’re portion feeding an animal in one cage that you do four pounds of feed for every day. Because we drove a truck around and spread long lines of feed on the concrete, on the asphalt so the animals could eat. And we had to have special things for elephants and giraffe.

01:14:14 - 01:14:18

Now, was there a good attendance?

01:14:18 - 01:14:19


01:14:19 - 01:14:20

Was this a very popular place?

01:14:20 - 01:14:25

Yeah, Lion Country was pretty popular, there was two of them. A lot of employees.

01:14:25 - 01:14:26


01:14:26 - 01:14:28

A lot of employees.

01:14:28 - 01:14:32

PR Jerry Coburn, he was the head of PR, right?

01:14:33 - 01:15:01

Yeah. Public relations. You would have disagreements sometimes, I remember with public relations because public relations was interested in the publicity of it. Sensational. Sensationalism And that’s his job, but he was more interested in sensational stuff, and that may not be very healthy for animals. But he didn’t know about that, he was a PR guy.

01:15:02 - 01:15:12

Now, were you charged with continuing to build the zoo and continuing to have new attractions or bring animals in?

01:15:12 - 01:15:15

Were they consulting with you?

01:15:15 - 01:15:17

Did they listen to what you had to say?

01:15:17 - 01:16:02

Oh yeah. And we were always moving things around, we were always bringing new things in. We brought in Hylobares lar, which is the dwarf gibbons from a special island in Asia. They came in with a shipment of Gibbons, but he was a siamang, but a dwarf siamang and just things like that. We worked pretty closely with San Diego Wild Animal Park too. I know I put the stallions down there, Hartman’s mountain zebra stallions down there and rhino down there. We worked together a little bit too.

01:16:02 - 01:16:06

Who was the director of the San Diego zoo that you worked with?

01:16:06 - 01:16:14

It was… Well, that guy with the beard, he was a good. He was there for years, I can’t think of his name.

01:16:14 - 01:16:15


01:16:15 - 01:16:16


01:16:16 - 01:16:17

Dr. Schroeder?

01:16:17 - 01:16:20

Schroeder, yeah. You remember when the- Charlie Schroeder.

01:16:20 - 01:16:22

Remember when the capybaras got out?

01:16:22 - 01:17:13

Yeah, I had capybaras get out at Lion Country in California. And people were saying, “Oh my God, what a rat.” And they were breeding, these capybaras. And Toticos were breeding there and marabous were breeding there. And you got cheetahs to breed there. I got got the second litter of cheetahs born in America, was born there. Then we had Bubbles, the hippo, which is a big deal. Bubbles. Oh, that was something Bubbles the hippo. She got out of the park and she was living in another lake somewhere else across on the Irvine property, and it hit national news, helicopters, cameras, Bubbles.

01:17:18 - 01:17:51

I tried to move Bubbles and I had a four wheel drive Jeep and I had a rope on her and I was trying to pull her out. Guess what, I was sitting in water up to my nose. She pulled a whole damn Jeep and me inside in the water. Here I was sitting in water. One of the things- Strong they are. One of the things that I remember you were great at was roping animals, he was wonderful at roping animals. You give a person enough rope, they’ll hang themselves.

01:17:51 - 01:17:54

So who did you answer to?

01:17:54 - 01:17:56

Who were your bosses, this Mr. York?

01:17:56 - 01:18:04

No, my boss boss basically was Harry Schuster, the president, the owner of the park.

01:18:06 - 01:18:07

Did they leave things in your hands?

01:18:07 - 01:18:08


01:18:08 - 01:18:11

Or did they talk to you all the time about what was going on?

01:18:11 - 01:19:03

They would get concerned about temperatures getting low, and we’d have to convince them that we needed a little more protection for heat, and I had to walk him around with things like that. But he wasn’t an animal man, he was a money man, which is fine, we can’t do animals without money. Were you successful in getting funding for new projects from… We did some new projects. Some of the projects we did, I was not happy with because it was more like a carnival, it wasn’t totally animal related, I wanted to do animals. I remember that. Give me an example of that. Carousel, train, they started doing night shows.

01:19:03 - 01:19:16

We hired a bunch of young men that were musicians and they would create music around in the round oval, things like that.

01:19:19 - 01:19:30

Was it challenging in this open air setting of handling the animals, that is the medical treatment or transferring them from one place to another?

01:19:30 - 01:19:33

Did you have a full-time vet or part-time vet?

01:19:33 - 01:19:56

Oh, yeah, had a full-time vet. But it’s a whole different ballgame because you’re trying to sneak around and get a dart into an animal. After you do that one time, they get savvy about it. So you gotta be really sneaky. You know what I remember, the first vet was the vet that Bill York had hired.

01:19:59 - 01:20:02

Then didn’t he eventually retire?

01:20:02 - 01:20:10

He got pretty old. Then you hired Don Dooley, the vet worked for you, Don Dooley. Don Dooley later became one of our investors in Gulf Breeze Zoo.

01:20:12 - 01:20:25

So if I was a young zoo guy and I was putting together an open air African exhibit, what animals would you say I should have?

01:20:25 - 01:20:32

What advice would you give me about managing that open air space, important things?

01:20:32 - 01:21:02

Well, first you’ve gotta have predators, you gotta have lions, if you open it. Then you’ve got to watch your sex ratios to make sure that somebody’s gotta be dominant or you’re gonna have some problems. The conflict often brings on peace because once a conflict is complete, then somebody’s the head rooster in the yard and everybody else knows it and gives them room.

01:21:02 - 01:21:09

So what kind of animals are the best in an African exhibit, forgetting the lions that are not carnivores?

01:21:10 - 01:21:14

God, there’s so many megavertebrates from Africa.

01:21:14 - 01:21:17

What did you have at Lion Country?

01:21:17 - 01:21:32

Hippo, rhino. You had chimps, that’s one. Chimps. But these were all drive throughs in those areas. Yeah, you drove through those areas. We had islands with animals on it that couldn’t swim.

01:21:34 - 01:21:38

Did you have drive throughs for giraffe?

01:21:38 - 01:21:57

Yeah, there would be giraffe in there, white rhino, buffalo, wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas. Now, you had a lion named Frazier. Frazier’s the Sensuous Lion.

01:21:57 - 01:22:06

Could you tell me what was his impact on the population and what was his impact on Lion Country?

01:22:06 - 01:23:07

It was a good PR move. Jerry Coburn, our PR guy. Frazier was about a 26 year old lion, came out of a Mexican circus, had very few teeth. Jerry Corbin and I talked about it, Jerry said, “He’s an old animal and females are bringing him food.” And he was siring cubs, he was breeding these females. He was Frazier’s the Sensuous Lion, but made the best PR story and Los Angeles that year, I was given the award for it, we were. And they made a movie They made a movie called Frazier. This is a big picture, but it was… Yeah, lousy picture, lousy picture.

01:23:09 - 01:23:13

What were the things that frustrated you on the job as director?

01:23:30 - 01:24:26

I don’t know, You know what, I don’t remember you being necessarily so frustrated on the job. But what you were frustrated with, well, what you were disillusioned by was that, and this was one reason why you left Lion Country, was that there were verbal promises made. The way you were raised, a handshake, a verbal promise, was just as good as a contract, you never cared about a contract. Harry Schuster probably, With Bill York and whoever, promised you a certain amount of money when you accepted the vice presidency of all the parks. Then that never happened. He was dissolution by that.

01:24:26 - 01:24:39

Tell me about when you came from zoo director to corporate manager of all the parks, how did that come to happen?

01:24:40 - 01:24:43

How did that occur? Did they just come to you or?

01:24:43 - 01:25:01

Well, the guy that was my boss left Lion Country, that’s why I moved up. Bill York recommended you for the job and you accepted it. They recommended you.

01:25:01 - 01:25:04

Now, did you have to travel to other parks?

01:25:04 - 01:25:06

Yeah, sometimes.

01:25:07 - 01:25:13

Were they all supposed to be the same, they always have the same exhibits or were they all different?

01:25:13 - 01:25:43

No, each park had its own staff and manager or director that had their fingerprint on everything, which was okay. You had to be the manager over these now, other zoo directors. Yes. But I was in the home office in California and all of my directions generally were just telephone calls.

01:25:47 - 01:25:54

Did this new position move you away from animals because you’re now more in the management end of running things?

01:25:54 - 01:25:55

Or were you able to stay?

01:25:55 - 01:26:04

No, I was still involved with the animals. Usually I was the one that made decisions about the animals.

01:26:05 - 01:26:06

For all the parks?

01:26:06 - 01:26:07


01:26:08 - 01:26:14

Did people always agree with your decisions of how you wanted to do things?

01:26:14 - 01:26:17

Or what was your management style of all these people?

01:26:17 - 01:26:42

If anybody had disagreed and it would be changed, it would be the owners of the zoo, owners of the facility. They want it a certain ways, they to do their way. But they were good about listening too, they weren’t really animal people, but they were good people.

01:26:46 - 01:26:56

Were there any difficulties in maintaining the exhibits, all of these open air exhibits, bringing animals in, or feeding them?

01:26:56 - 01:27:00

Or did you have to develop methods to do this?

01:27:00 - 01:27:25

Oh yeah. Tell me about that. Well, first of all, every ranger, these Rangers were in the park all day long in a section, whether it be lion or tiger or bear or whatever, or the river section, it was just hoofstock and rhino. They all had the…

01:27:26 - 01:27:28

What was that question?

01:27:28 - 01:27:31

Was it difficult to maintain the exhibits?

01:27:31 - 01:27:38

Were there certain things that you required to maintain these exhibits, all the different exhibits?

01:27:39 - 01:27:40

You had those towers.

01:27:40 - 01:27:41


01:27:41 - 01:28:31

You had those towers that had to have watchmen at the… How that worked, she’s talking about towers, we had people on towers that opened the gates and closed the gates so cars could go through. I remember one time, it was a Sunday, and the park was packed, some lions got out of their area and came into the area where there was mouflon sheep and goats. Well, here’s Sunday, cars lined up, lions grabbing goats, pulling them up on top of cars, eating them in front of the kids. It was a mess, I’ll telling you.

01:28:35 - 01:28:38

How’d you get the lines back in?

01:28:38 - 01:29:13

BB guns, shook it They knew what a BB gun was, you just shake that BB gun and they know how to get in. All you had to do was shake the gun. After their butts were stung a couple of times, they learned to go in. That was what we did. When you did this, it sounds like this was a 24/7 job. It is.

01:29:13 - 01:29:14

Were you always at the park?

01:29:14 - 01:29:18

Yeah. It’s very interesting how people react to things when you’re dealing with animals and stuff.

01:29:18 - 01:29:26

You can do anything you want to do with an animal and you’ll have somebody, the car is stopping, what are you doing?

01:29:26 - 01:29:28

What are you doing back there?

01:29:30 - 01:29:56

I was taking stool out of a constipated rhino, and here I was, hands up the butt, cars lined up looking. All you had to do was, “Oh, we’re doing some research here on this animal.” “Oh, okay.” You could do whatever you wanted to do, all you had to do is say research and the public was okay.

01:29:56 - 01:30:05

When you were running the parks, all of them, was there a conservation thing that you wanted to put through?

01:30:05 - 01:30:35

Because I know you were very concerned about conservation. Yes. Well, we did, we did support conservation, and I always have. My passion now, of course, is right and elephant conservation. So at some point again, as we talked, you were a bit disillusioned with promises that had been made to you.

01:30:35 - 01:30:44

And now you make a decision to leave Lion Country, how did that come about, you just told them one day?

01:30:44 - 01:30:53

Well, I had someplace else to go. I had someplace else to go. I wouldn’t quit a job unless I had something to go to.

01:30:54 - 01:30:59

So were they upset that you wanted to leave?

01:30:59 - 01:31:00

Well, they weren’t.

01:31:00 - 01:31:02

Were they taken by surprise?

01:31:02 - 01:31:15

It took them by surprise a little bit. But I had discussed it. I was made promises they didn’t keep, so I left.

01:31:15 - 01:31:19

Was that a tough decision to make or an easy one?

01:31:19 - 01:31:41

Well, I had somewhere else to go, so I had to. Yeah, it’s not easy changing jobs. All right. I’m going to ask you, I want to go next to 1979 when you go to Benson Animal Park.

01:31:42 - 01:31:47

My question is, what brought you to New Hampshire?

01:31:49 - 01:31:50

What brought me to New Hampshire?

01:31:50 - 01:31:53

And the Benson. A job at Benson’s Animal Park.

01:31:53 - 01:31:55

How did that come about then?

01:31:55 - 01:31:56

I remember.

01:31:56 - 01:31:59

Who asked you to be there?

01:31:59 - 01:32:44

Arthur Provinca from Queen Zoological Associates wanted you to come and let him know the value of what he had, the value of the animals, his assets. He was buying this park or had purchased this park, and that’s why he wanted you there. You went there on a contract for a certain amount of money to go there and just see his collection and let him know what it was worth. He was impressed with you and then contacted you, he wanted you to work for him as zoological director. Now, the history of Benson- Benson’s Wild Animal Park.

01:32:44 - 01:32:46

Went before this gentleman owned it, correct?

01:32:46 - 01:32:50

Oldest animal park in the United States.

01:32:50 - 01:32:56

And this gentleman purchased it and you went there and then he said, stay on and work for me?

01:32:56 - 01:33:20

Yeah. We had never owned a home, and that was something very attractive because he was going to give you a home. Part of the salary was a gift of the home upfront, not working it off or anything. It was upfront, this is your home, here’s the title. And we had never owned a home, we’d always rented.

01:33:20 - 01:33:21

So your family was happy to move?

01:33:21 - 01:33:22


01:33:27 - 01:33:29

Tell me about the park, what did you find?

01:33:29 - 01:34:15

It was a very old park. Mr. Benson, this is where a lot of the circus people came to train their animals, there was a big area there for elephants and covered rondovals for working horses and things like that. Mr. Benson had this private zoo and he had Colosus, that big gorilla there too. So I was asked to come and evaluate it and give him some suggestions, and I did.

01:34:16 - 01:34:24

When you took the job as director of the zoo, what were your day to day responsibilities?

01:34:24 - 01:34:26

What did you have to do daily?

01:34:26 - 01:34:41

You had people cleaning the exhibits. Well, I had to do budgets, I didn’t clean unless I had to. You had a staff, quite big staff. I had animal staff A lot of college students. I had a veterinarian I worked with.

01:34:43 - 01:34:49

Now, Benson’s has been called your zoological laboratory, what does that mean?

01:34:53 - 01:34:55

Did you start doing, research or conservation?

01:34:55 - 01:35:09

Well, they gave me an opportunity to deal with several kinds of animals, like tigers and fishers and porcupines and then also elephant and camels and monkeys.

01:35:13 - 01:35:17

Did you start doing continuation of your safari there?

01:35:17 - 01:35:22

When you were at Benson’s you were going on safari?

01:35:22 - 01:35:50

I did safari at Benson’s, yes. Was that you were just bringing people, was part of an education program or how did- Well, yeah. I was doing a lot of talks and lectures around and I’d also did work with a lot science teachers. In Tufts, you went to Tufts University. At Tufts University, I went there. You worked there with some- I had some friends there. Veterinary students.

01:35:53 - 01:35:55

Where did you go on safari?

01:35:55 - 01:35:55


01:35:55 - 01:35:58

Where did you go on safari?

01:35:59 - 01:36:02

I went to Africa, first time.

01:36:02 - 01:36:03

What countries?

01:36:03 - 01:36:04


01:36:04 - 01:36:05

What countries did you visit?

01:36:05 - 01:36:06


01:36:08 - 01:36:09


01:36:09 - 01:36:29

I went to Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia. But those are over the years. Over years. From Benson’s, I believe it was just Kenya, I think we just went to Kenya. Because I had friends there. Did your- No, I’m wrong about that because it might have been Tanzania too, Kenya and Tanzania.

01:36:29 - 01:36:38

Did your safari experience influence what you did at the zoo, in the management or exhibits?

01:36:38 - 01:36:57

It gave me images of what exhibits we could do for animals of like kind, like species. And we tried to theme things, maybe make buildings look like African, little thatch roofs and things like that.

01:36:58 - 01:37:02

Our train, what was the name of our train?

01:37:02 - 01:37:22

Safari Express, the train station That I don’t remember. Nairobi. I don’t remember a train station at Benson’s, just at our zoo. No, that’s what I’m talking about now. Oh no, we’re at Benson’s right now, we’re still at Benson’s. When you were at Benson’s, you went to Africa.

01:37:22 - 01:37:25

Can you tell us your experience?

01:37:25 - 01:37:30

Was it at this time that you were at the Norfolk Hotel?

01:37:30 - 01:37:39

No. When you were at Benson’s. Yeah, when I was at Benson’s, yes. You had traveled to Africa and you had a disastrous experience at the Norfolk.

01:37:39 - 01:37:41

Can you talk about that?

01:37:41 - 01:38:39

Yeah, I’d be happy to. It was New Year’s Eve and we were supposed to be leaving around midnight out in Nairobi for home. It’d have been a family vacation, by the way. We had our daughter, Julie with us, our son, Noah, Peggy Bartel, a dear friend that had been to Africa with us on previous safaris, Ian Ross and Annette Kampinga were with us. So we were getting ready to leave that night. At 8:47, there was a click like a tick (clicks) like that, and that was a bomb that was exploded in a hotel. The room above us. Above us.

01:38:39 - 01:39:31

We were to leave the country probably around midnight. We would’ve been out of the country, we’d already had our safari. It had been a Christmas safari, Christmas vacation with the family, and we had decided, Pat wanted to go to Bobby’s Bistro for dinner. And I said, “No because of the kids, let’s stay here at the Norfolk Hotel.” So he listened to me rather than- No matter how much your wife tells you about, this is your Jewish wife, bend down and listen to her. I’m hump back from listening to this one. So he listened to me and we stayed at the Norfolk. We were in, it was the Elland Room I believe, Elland Room. And we had just all sat down at the table, other friends were going to join us. And for one reason or another, because it was New Year’s Eve, they weren’t able to.

01:39:31 - 01:40:26

So it was just our family and Annette Kampinga and Ian Ross and Peggy plus Noah and our daughter Julie. At 8:47, there was this (pat clicks). We had just gotten our party hats on, we had put on party hats, and they had just served us a drink. I can remember holding my drink up, and as it happened, and I guess I went backwards and probably up in the air or whatever, I thought, I haven’t had too much to drink yet. But it was that feeling you can get if you have had too much to drink and you’re blacking out. But I’m not conscious of the fact I ever lost consciousness. Of course, a bomb had been planted in a room directly above us. In that room was Anaiya, who was babysitting two children, one was an infant, she survived somehow, the two children were killed.

01:40:26 - 01:41:10

Our family survived at our table, but Annette Kampinga- Every other person at our table died, and every other person lived, and the ones living were our family. Our family. Ian died, Annette Kampinga died, Peggy Bartel died. Ian Ross. It was interesting because of course we were instantly buried in rubble, et cetera. I was conscious of the fact that I was underneath stuff. Somebody who I thought was tall, was getting stuff off of me and pulling me out, he had an English accent. I can remember when you’re in a tragedy like that, you can sometimes think of the craziest things.

01:41:10 - 01:41:46

Because all I can think of is one of my shoes was missing and I wanted to go back for my shoe. And he said, “No, you can’t go back for your shoe.” He was just getting me out of there. Then he took me out, I don’t know if you were already out or not. No. But he took me out to, I guess it was a van. My eyes were affected, so I had no idea where, I couldn’t see anything, but he put me in the back of a van. I was conscious of the fact that there were other bodies in the van with me, but I didn’t know if they were alive or dead, and I also knew I would have to fight for my life. Of course I was hyperventilating, but I knew I would have to fight for my life.

01:41:46 - 01:42:41

I knew if I didn’t, I would not make it. I did not know where Noah was, I didn’t know where Julie was or Pat. When they brought me into the hospital, the attendants that were to take me were afraid to touch me. I can remember very distinctly that whoever was holding me said, “It’s all right, she can’t hurt you, she can’t hurt you.” Because I was a burn victim, I must have looked horrible. And black. They took me into the emergency room and I was laid, they ask everybody your name, your age, what country are you from, and they give you… You’re thirsty, but they can’t give you water, so they give you cloth to suck, a wash cloth I guess, that’s wet that you can suck that. Then I was aware of Pat because he said he was here, honey.

01:42:41 - 01:43:41

Our son, Noah said, “I’m here, mom, I’m here, daddy, I love you. I don’t care if I die, daddy, I love you.” Remember he said. A guy put his hand out, pulled me out of the debris. Guys were pouring water on me from vases with flowers. I was laying on a hot wire, and that’s what got me going. I was like a downed cow with a shock, and that got me breathing. I said, “Oh my God, you’re electrocuting me.” So they took me out and put me in a matatu, a little open truck, a matatu. I fell out twice on the street when the truck took off. This hand was all open with bones and tendons and then we got into the hospital.

01:43:42 - 01:44:26

We were two months in the hospital there. Julie was at a different hospital, she went to the- Wait a minute. I’m sorry, interrupted you, I’m so sorry. All I remember is the bumping of gurneys and things. I asked where Diana was and Ela was, and that’s what they said, “I don’t care if I do daddy, I love you.” A guy walked up, put his hand on my chest and said I’m Dr. Steinberg. Silverstein. Silverstein from Chicago, He was from Chicago. And I’m here for emergency medicine.

01:44:26 - 01:45:11

I said, “Well, before you do anything to me, had anybody seen or heard Noah anywhere?” That’s right. And I could hear him. I said, “Put me down.” So, they put me to sleep. Then we were in the hospital there two months. They were wonderful there because at that hospital, they had one area for women, one area for men, never the two should mix, but they let us be as a family. We were always in the women’s area, they let you come into the women’s area so we could all be together. They located Julie, she is at this other hospital that was actually probably a hospital more for the poor, and then they had her transferred. We were very fortunate that we had very good friends living in Nairobi.

01:45:11 - 01:46:02

That knew good doctors. Who came to the hospital and brought us things and took care of us, and if I needed… Eventually when I was at a point where I wanted to have lotion or something, they would bring me lotion, they would read to Noah, they were incredible. Julie came out of the hospital first and it was the British embassy I believe family that took her in, had the British embassy there, that took her in before she left for her mother in the states. She’s my stepdaughter, so her mother was in California. By the way. Noah went into a home, he came out earlier. He was scalped and he had a broken leg, which had to be rebroken when he got back to the states or he was going to be a cripple for the rest of his life.

01:46:02 - 01:46:54

They said the procedures that were used were about 30 years behind the times, that things would’ve been differently had we gotten to Germany, which was one of the discussions, to get medevac us to Germany. That’s what I tried to do. But the doctors wanted to keep us there, they really wanted to take care of us there. And we were in no position to make that decision. So we stayed, we stayed. But Noah went into the home of a man that was working for the CIA. Then we also went into his home before we came back to the states. But I ended up living for six months in a hospital in the states, in New Hampshire, because I ended up with pseudomonas and staph aureus in my arm, so my bones would not heal.

01:46:54 - 01:47:24

They did not know how much use I would ever get at this arm again. It was up like this, and it also had been caused from having a cast that was too tight fit. That didn’t fit. That didn’t fit, it was too tight. I guess initially it wasn’t too tight, maybe I had swelling or something, so I had nerve- Her doctor was Dr. Vince, he called himself- The butcher. Vince the butcher. He did. He was my orthopedist, but he called himself a butcher.

01:47:28 - 01:48:03

In the states, I ended up having to have a lot of plastic surgery. I had a big hole in my face, big hole here, a big hole here, back. I could put my fist in her cheek of her butt. In her back, she had a hole that big around. They were funny. And Pat, oh my God, remember he had terrible ear damage, and so did I, we both had ear damage. Which is probably why we both have to have hearing aids. But he just had hot fluid, and I did too, just coming outta my ears, it was amazing.

01:48:03 - 01:49:03

A friend of mine that lived there in Nairobi, Cheryl Fowler came to the hospital. And when she first looked in the room, first of all, I guess burn victims there’s an odor, there’s a strong odor. Also she said that she didn’t know it was me because you swell and I’d had my hair in a perm. She said she thought I was a fat black woman, so funny. One of the funny things too, lots of funny things, but one of the funny things was that when the orthopedist, and he was the one that cut my clothing off in the emergency room, and he told me he was gonna cut off my clothing, he asked his forgiveness for having to cut off my clothing. I thought, “I wonder if he’s good looking.” So funny, here I am near death, and somebody’s gonna cut off my clothing and I wonder if he’s good looking. Then Dr. Landra who was- Diana, I’m getting a divorce. Dr. Landra who was a world famous- Plastic surgeon.

01:49:03 - 01:49:16

Plastic surgeon, happened to be there, We were very lucky, Italian doctor. Toward the end of my hospital stay, I was gonna have plastic surgery on my face.

01:49:16 - 01:49:21

He was gonna take skin from my rear end or thigh, was it thigh or rear end?

01:49:21 - 01:49:56

Rear end off and put it on my face. I thought, “Oh no, I’m gonna have cellulite on my face.” That was what I thought was gonna happen. Of course eventually in the states, they had to do more surgery on my face because I had big, thick keloids on my face, looked like lips on my face. They got rid of that, and I had face sanding and I had to have ear surgery. I had ear surgery. So I had ear ache so bad, I thought I had hot coal in my brain.

01:49:56 - 01:50:00

I was in a bed, they gave me, what’s that, codeine?

01:50:02 - 01:50:38

They gave me a lot of codeine. But I wanna tell you something, it doesn’t kill pain, it just immobilizes you. One of the most excruciating things in the world, I had tons of debris in me, 3.5 whatevers of- Pounds of wood. In me. We had our nurse, not Butterfly. Anyway, she was a Chinese woman who had, we were very fortunate. She came to the hospital, she couldn’t get a work permit, she came to the hospital, she’d been a burn victim, I mean a burn nurse in England. She came and spent literally hours on me.

01:50:38 - 01:50:44

Debreing her. Debreing me because no surgery could be done until all the debris is out of the wounds, she spent literally hours.

01:50:44 - 01:50:49

But they had me on whatever it was, was it codeine?

01:50:50 - 01:51:25

Whatever it was. What’s horrible about it is that you are immobilized, I wonder with animals if it can be this way, you are immobilized but you feel the pain. But you can’t do anything about it because you cannot move. It’s excruciating, it’s absolutely excruciating. I remember the pain pain being excruciating. I felt like if I could get out of this bed, I would jump out of that window and kill myself, that’s how bad the pain was. My face was pointed way out like this, my ears because it was this infection. It was tough.

01:51:25 - 01:51:29

And yet, how long were you in the hospital, same amount of time?

01:51:29 - 01:51:31

Same amount of time, we were released at the same time.

01:51:31 - 01:51:34

And you traveled back to New Hampshire?

01:51:34 - 01:52:07

Yeah. We were fine. We came home and we thought we were okay, my mom and dad were there. We thought we were okay and then all of a sudden, I had this high fever. The pseudomonas and staph aureus had gone systemic. So we were in the hospital together for what, just a few days in New Hampshire. Then you got to go home but I had to stay because I had to be on IV therapy. That’s why I was in the hospital for six months, I had to have…

01:52:07 - 01:52:30

At the time, the therapy that had just been developed for the bad one, for the staph aureus I believe. No, the pseudomonas, it had just been developed. So I was very fortunate in that, but it was IV therapy. I had to have lots of physical therapy to try to get back the use of the arm and that kind of thing.

01:52:30 - 01:52:35

Pat, were you further hospitalized in the United States?

01:52:35 - 01:52:43

Initially. Yeah, we were. And I had a lot of therapy on this hand because this hand was all busted up.

01:52:43 - 01:52:48

And you went back to the wild animal park, is that correct?

01:52:48 - 01:53:10

We did, yes. And we went back to Africa a year later and stayed at the Norfolk Hotel. In the room that the bomb went off in. Well, the rebuilt room. I can remember my foot going over the edge of the bed and think, oh, whoop. I did too. I said, I better bring my foot up. Because if it bombed, I’d blow my leg off, I put it back in the bed.

01:53:10 - 01:53:52

And that was the trip, when we went back, where our friends joined us and we were sitting in the Masai Mara on the river and Pat said, “I’d love to come back to Pensacola.” Dr. Potter a friend of mine. Dr. Potter, Ron Huck and- Prentice Robinson Prentice Robinson. “I’d like to come back to Pensacola and build a zoo. I’ve always wanted Pensacola to have a zoo.” They talked about it and they said, put some paper. We all worked together, I wanna look at it. We’ll look at the numbers and see what we think. And he did, so he worked on it very hard and they all decided they wanted to invest. So that’s when…

01:53:52 - 01:54:01

So you had an initial investment based on your figures to come back to Pensacola to build a zoo?

01:54:02 - 01:54:06

Then you left Benson and became director?

01:54:06 - 01:54:47

Well, first we made a trip down to buy property. And a friend of ours, as a matter of fact, Dr. Kalsaski, who I had mentioned before, his wife was now in real estate and she sold us the property that the zoo was on. That was the first 19 acres. So you came back to be director of the zoo yet to be built. Yet to be built. I got back in October and I opened the zoo in May 15th the following spring. That’s how quickly we got that thing going. ’83, purchased the property, ’84 opened the gate, one year later.

01:54:49 - 01:55:09

At Benson’s, Eric Mogenson, who now owns the Gulf Breeze Zoo, Eric and his wife worked for Pat at Benson’s, they were college students. He had a lot of college students working for him and they were working their way through school at Benson’s. And he now owns the zoo.

01:55:09 - 01:55:14

So when you first got the zoo, Pat, was this to you a dream come true?

01:55:14 - 01:56:26

Yeah. God, I was delighted. And you had some vision of what you wanted it to be, tell me about the vision. Well, I tried to stay away from little tiny cages and things like that the best I could, with the money I had to work with. We built the additional land, we built an island. I had it all dredged and had an island where I kept the chimps and gorillas, a lot of other animals. Sitatunga would go out there, swim across and lay out there. Then one year, this year, I forgot what year it was now, but we borrowed $380,000 to build a train and buy a piece of property behind the zoo to make it 50 acres.

01:56:26 - 01:57:12

That would go around the islands, where the chimps- It would go around the islands. Where the chimps and the gorillas- Where the chimps and gorillas were and things like that. And we had zebra and ostrich and normal stuff, rhinos and things there. So we borrowed the money to put the train in and guess what happened, there’s one bridge that goes across to Gulf Breeze Pensacola. The Three-Mile Bridge. The Three-Mile Bridge was hit by a barge and knocked out as we borrowed $380,000. It changed the whole traffic pattern and they had to go around about 50, 60 miles to get to the zoo. So that was a good luck at the time, so that was tough.

01:57:12 - 01:57:17

Did someone help you in the beginning, in the design of the zoo or was it all you?

01:57:17 - 01:57:18


01:57:22 - 01:57:23

You ever heard of rotatum?

01:57:23 - 01:57:52

Yes. He showed me some things that I needed to do to have a back run to the back where the animals could go into stay in the zoo but they can go inside the barns. So that was a good move, and Earl talked to me about that. You built a lot of things just on napkins in restaurants. Well, ideas you had.

01:57:53 - 01:57:56

Did you visit other zoos for ideas?

01:57:56 - 01:58:33

Well, I had been to other zoos, yes. But I didn’t really go to other zoos to get a plan. What I wanted to do there, I pretty well knew what I wanted to do. But like the giraffe feeding tower that we built, you got that idea from safari, going to… Giraffe House in Kenya. So I put in a platform and some stairs and people were feeding the giraffe and successful. And a lot of zoos are doing that now. No one was doing it then, I was the first one to do it.

01:58:33 - 01:58:41

In building the zoo, were there problems that you encountered in putting together a brand new zoo?

01:58:41 - 01:59:11

Well, there was a problem, I wanted to get into the wetlands area and there were some problems. I was supposed to go to the Army Corps of Engineers or some damn thing, and I decided against that. So I built pond and paid the guys $12,000 to build it. It’s two islands and then water all the way around that. So it worked out very well.

01:59:11 - 01:59:16

Where did you acquire the animals for the zoo?

01:59:16 - 01:59:25

Some of them were donated, Earl Tatum loaned me some animals to put in there. He was always bringing stuff in and taking stuff out.

01:59:25 - 01:59:27

Our first animals were the beisa oryx, remember?

01:59:27 - 01:59:57

That’s before we even had any- Beisa oryx. Beisa oryx Before we even had pens. No, it was scimitar horned oryx. The scimitar, excuse me. And that was our symbol, scimitar horned oryx was our logo type thing in the very beginning. And these animals were running on the whole first 30 acres. Local attorneys in town paid for the chimp, Zoo Good. $4,000 for bush gordons.

01:59:59 - 02:00:47

The Citizens and People’s National Bank bought the elephant and then donated it to us. They paid $20,000 or something like that for the elephant. Goodness, we had all kinds of businesses. Even though we were for profit, it was interesting, we were for profit, but Pat got lots of donations. Lots of people donated for us. Our veterinarian for at least 10 years, maybe 15, Bud Pugh, donated all of his veterinary service. So we actually put up a building with his name on it in the park, Maven Pugh. He had the airport animal hospital and come out to the zoo once a week.

02:00:47 - 02:00:52

He took care for nothing for years, Bud did that for years.

02:00:54 - 02:01:02

Now, you had to recruit staff to take care of the animals, how did you go about doing that?

02:01:02 - 02:01:50

There was no experienced zoo staff there, they had to be trained there by me. So did you- I get a little bit distorted when I see an intelligent person put four pounds of feed in for a one pound bird, so I notice things like that. Or putting the water under a roost where the birds are crapping in the water, things like that, that drove me nuts. Those are those those times I watched those things very carefully. You really had to train every… You had people that didn’t even know how to use tools like shovels. Didn’t know anything. Or pitch forks.

02:01:50 - 02:02:02

He started a zoo docent program from the very beginning, he started a docent program before we even opened. We had docents and he had meetings with them at least once a week, training program for the docents.

02:02:02 - 02:02:05

What did you want the docents to do Pat?

02:02:05 - 02:02:23

They were the ambassadors. What they were able to do was to meet the public and they walked around with a rabbit or a turtle or something like that. They had a meeting and I taught classes to them for a long time.

02:02:25 - 02:02:29

Did that prove to be a successful project with the docents?

02:02:29 - 02:03:05

It was successful. For many years. For a long time. But it got to the point where the docents were wanting to run the zoo. For example, here’s a good example, all they thought the gorillas needed something to play with, so they put an oil drum without me knowing about it into the gorilla exhibit. Well, the gorilla put the oil drum up against the wall. And that’s before they were on the island, when they had the big gorilla pit and your office was above. The gorillas got out, walked out in the parking lot and came back in to the- To a brand new gift shop.

02:03:05 - 02:03:15

Walked all the way through it. With $40,000 worth of stuff in it. And Diana was saying, “I hope to God, he doesn’t get in that gift shop.” And guess what, he opened that door, and got right in there. He never touched anything.

02:03:15 - 02:03:16


02:03:16 - 02:03:18

He never touched anything inside the gift shop.

02:03:18 - 02:03:21

But he sat up on the printer and what else did he sit up?

02:03:21 - 02:04:19

He saw me, I had a capture gun with a pistol and that little turd saw me with that pistol. He runs into another room and closed this door behind him, pulls the door and he opened the door and looks around, close the door. He’d reached out, get the door, close the door. And when he reached out one time, I shot and got him right in the wrist and down he went. So I caught him. I had a mean ass jaguar get out because the lady keeper, I think she was on marijuana or something, drinking or something. She left two doors open, the jaguar goes out, and goes to the back of the zoo. The rest of it’s all swamp and forest.

02:04:19 - 02:05:04

And a housing projects. I said if that gets out of this- And housing projects. I’ll never find it, it’s all woods back in here, swamp. So I got a gun, 36 and as it went up to get over the fence, I shot it, I threw the damn gun down, cussing and walked. You were upset. And fired that broad who left those gates open. I remember the time Denny Peters and his wife, Betty Gayle, and their grandchildren, and we had taken he and his wife to Africa twice.

02:05:04 - 02:05:14

Were in the park with their grandchildren the keeper left a door to the tigers, do you remember that?

02:05:15 - 02:05:26

Yeah, tigers. Tigers. And the tigers came out. and here they are right there in front of the facility with this tiger coming out. That was amazing.

02:05:28 - 02:05:30

You got the tiger back in?

02:05:30 - 02:05:55

A keeper did, a keeper actually walked- Had a piece of meat and walked the tiger back. Was as lucky as hell, back end of the cage and then he went. Because those animals once they got out of the cages, out of their areas, they’re confused what to do now because that’s their home. Speaking of animal keepers, did you have any pressure in your new zoo to include a union.

02:05:56 - 02:05:57

To do a union?

02:05:57 - 02:06:06

Yeah. No, I wouldn’t let them on my property, they wouldn’t. So your keepers were non-union Non-union, I wouldn’t do that.

02:06:09 - 02:06:12

What was the official name of the zoo?

02:06:12 - 02:06:16

And why did some of the media respond negatively to it?

02:06:17 - 02:06:51

I don’t know. Gulf Zoo Gulf Breeze Florida. We had a name the zoo contest in the very beginning and we had lots of contests like that, name the zoo contest. The winner was going to get a trip to Africa with Pat. The zoo, that was the winning… There were all kinds of names submitted all over the community. Finally just The Zoo, I don’t remember the- It was the only zoo in the area. There’s no point saying The Gulf Breeze Zoological Society Zoo, The Zoo.

02:06:53 - 02:07:03

That’s all I remember about it, I don’t remember there was any conflict over it. We had to get though a- Some of them wanted Jungle Land, Pat’s Jungle.

02:07:03 - 02:07:07

But I mean there was no legal problem over that, was it?

02:07:07 - 02:07:10

No. But we did have to get a…

02:07:10 - 02:07:15

That was the original, the logo and everything had to be, what’s the word I want?

02:07:15 - 02:07:20

All the collaterals had to be changed when that happened.

02:07:22 - 02:07:23


02:07:23 - 02:07:51

Copyright, that’s what I’m thinking, we had to have copyright. And the winner did not take the trip but gave it to the Renfroes. The Renfroes own Renfroe Pecan Company and Jake and little Renfroe were the people that went to Africa with us. So every year at the Christmas party, we had a drawing for our employees. And whoever won the drawing got a trip with Pat to Africa, free safari.

02:07:51 - 02:07:53

The Renfroes, who paid for that?

02:07:53 - 02:08:00

We did. We did. The zoo did, we did. We bought their insurance too, we paid for their insurance.

02:08:00 - 02:08:07

Now, as director of the zoo and you had employees, can you take me through what would be a “normal day” for you?

02:08:10 - 02:08:14

What were some of your daily responsibilities?

02:08:14 - 02:08:17

Let me ask a question, did you make rounds of your zoo?

02:08:17 - 02:08:19

Yes, absolutely.

02:08:19 - 02:08:21

Is that important?

02:08:21 - 02:09:01

Yes, it is very important. Tell me why. Well, you go around and you see faucets leaking water, and you wonder why the water bill’s high, faucets with hose got leaks in it. And they keepers don’t care, they just wrap it up and forget about it. But you can see a pond of water out there and they don’t understand that something’s leaking. So you had to watch that stuff. And you’ve got keepers that don’t notice that’s something wrong with an animal, that an animal’s looking sick, he always. One thing’s wrong with an animal, there’s 15 of them out there, I can pick it out.

02:09:02 - 02:09:46

That’s something I’ve learned by doing. And the other thing Pat always did too, is he was, like I said, he was always out in the community. So the entire community of Pensacola, Fort Walton, they all just associate Pat Quinn, The Zoo. But what he did was also on a daily basis in the park, he got out there. He not only did the rounds of everything, but he also greeted the public, he talked to people, he always talked to people. I went through that zoo to talk to everybody. He spent time talking to all kinds of people in the park, meeting people in the community that were visiting the zoo, then inviting them sometimes behind the scenes, often up to his office to sit down and talk to them, get to know their kids. And we had a lot of their kids too working for us.

02:09:46 - 02:10:13

They’re now very successful in the community. I’d go out to the zoo to talk to people, I’d walk up to a couple and I’s say, “Where are you all from?” And they backed off. I said, “Oh, I’m sorry, where are you from?” I said, “I’m not going ask, I don’t want anything from you, I just wanna know where our people are coming from.” They were from New York. The only ones that backed up were probably New York. New York, Chicago. Because they weren’t used to somebody just coming up and being friendly.

02:10:13 - 02:10:17

I’m glad you’re here, where are you from?

02:10:18 - 02:10:20

So you were doing a little marketing?

02:10:20 - 02:10:51

I did everywhere I went. I still do. When I go somewhere, I talk about the zoo. I don’t care where. He still has a zoo truck. He has The Zoo on both sides of his truck and everywhere we go, we just went to… Every year, we’re sponsors for the opera in the honor of the zoo, for the juke box gala, which is every year, and a big deal. It’s $150 per person to go, but if you pay $500, you’re a sponsor and you get two free tickets.

02:10:51 - 02:11:29

And we do that always and we do it in honor of the zoo. We do that for the symphony, we do things. If they’ll add in honor of The Zoo to keep that name out there all the time. In our local theater, Pensacola Little Theater, the cultural center, they sold sidewalk stars. And pat, my father, bought me one once. About $10,000. $10,000 because of my theater, my acting. She’s a great actress.

02:11:29 - 02:12:03

But I bought him one that says, Pat Quinn The Zoo. So he’s in concrete, we’re both in concrete in front of the Little Theater. But we do that because we wanna help Eric. He keeps brochures in his car, everywhere we go, if we go out to dinner, whatever we do, he talks about The Zoo, if you’ve been to The Zoo, and he always did that. But, of course, there was never a time where we were anywhere where people didn’t know him. So he was always talking to people at other tables too when he was having dinner with me.

02:12:03 - 02:12:10

After a number of years at The Zoo, that you had built, did the glamor wear off ever or not?

02:12:10 - 02:12:11

No, never.

02:12:14 - 02:12:15

You loved it?

02:12:15 - 02:12:47

No. It’s like being in love with her, I never fell out of love with her, and I’ve been there with her for over 45 years. I think our dream was, one of our dreams, was that we would have been there till we passed. It’s a legacy that we wanted to leave the community, that’s a legacy And we probably wanted to continue working, but then we age health issues, et cetera. Also we’d had a huge financial burden which took a great toll.

02:12:47 - 02:13:02

It was just, like pat said, one of your questions that you had sent us was if you had something to do over, what would you do?

02:13:02 - 02:13:38

I read that to pat and he said that he wished that he had had more of a financial background, that he had been stronger in the area of- Finance. Finance, area of finance, which he wasn’t. I dealt a lot with my heart. And because we had to do something, even if we couldn’t afford it, it had to be done. And of course it did, it had to be done. But he didn’t like the financial aspects. She did that. There was a tremendous amount of pressure and a great pressure.

02:13:38 - 02:14:02

My job, I wish I had been just a keeper. So if I had it all to do over again, I would’ve been a keeper. I’ve had some great experiences raising animals like bears and antelope and things like that. But I had to get away from that, and that had to be the keeper’s job. I worked in the office and I kept the books and paid the bills.

02:14:02 - 02:14:07

I knew when the bills couldn’t be paid, I was the person that knew how are we gonna make a payroll?

02:14:07 - 02:14:08

Oh no, how were we gonna make a payroll?

02:14:08 - 02:14:12

Or how were we gonna make the bank payment that month?

02:14:12 - 02:14:55

But I would call people and say, “Look, we’re gonna pay you.” But I had to Rob Peter to pay Paul and that kind of thing. I had no background in financial aspects either. Our board, there were six of us, six investors, they gave me the title of controller. Well, I didn’t even know, I was a theater major, into mathematics and things. But I did, I set up our books initially in one accounting program, learned how to do it, then put us in QuickBooks. Did a good job. I did it, but I was stressed. I was stressed for 20 years. Eric Ferguson bought the zoo.

02:14:55 - 02:15:35

There was a time when the zoo was run by society and it went to hell in a hand basket, when the society had it. That was another dream that the board had, is that someday we would be able to hand the zoo over. We were a for-profit, but someday we wanted to be able to hand the zoo over to a non-profit. And eventually we felt we were at a point where we wanted to do that, and we did so. They robbed it, they stole. They couldn’t do it. Maybe it was the wrong director, it the board that they had. It was the director and Natalie the book keeper.

02:15:35 - 02:15:58

And board choice perhaps. But they tried, they tried, and then we had to take the park back and put it up for sale, close it. 1,000 questions come to mind, so let me try and get 1, 2, 3. Number one, just on what you’ve talked about, I’m gonna jump around a bit. Pat, what would you consider, put your hand down, I wanna see you.

02:15:58 - 02:16:05

What would you consider, based on your experience, to be important things that a zoo director should know today?

02:16:13 - 02:17:06

I think he probably should know his limitations because I had some limitations, financial, I’m not a financial person. I think you’ve got to like people, you have to love people. Because you’re dealing with people all the time, either the staff or the public. And if you haven’t got that far in your belly, you’re not committed to it and willing to stay with it, endure, you shouldn’t do it. All the things I’ve done, I have done it maybe selfishly because that’s what I wanted to do, that’s what my brain told me to do.

02:17:08 - 02:17:15

How important was the community to the success of the zoo, the community support?

02:17:17 - 02:17:45

That’s what makes you, that’s what pays your bills, the community, they come into the zoo. So I’m out there in the public all the time. Because she’s in theater, I’m involved with rotary, I’m Paul Harris fellow, I’m involved with tourist development. He did years of public speaking. Tourist Development Council, I did all that stuff. So like I said, I was like chicken shit and chewing gum, everywhere.

02:17:45 - 02:17:47

How important is the marketing?

02:17:47 - 02:17:51

If I was a young director, what would you tell me?

02:17:51 - 02:17:55

Would you tell me about the importance of marketing of my zoo?

02:17:57 - 02:18:24

Your marketing is part of your lifeblood, and unless you… One of the things that I found that people who want to help you, like a public relations firm or things like that, well, they don’t mind spending your money. they do not mind spending your money, a lot of them don’t. and they’ll have you.

02:18:24 - 02:18:28

For a while we were paying what, $80,000 a year?

02:18:28 - 02:19:49

Our biggest bill- Was advertising. Was advertising. That was under an ad agency handling that. I got on them about it because they were doing all kinds of things in the community, but they never brought the zoo into any of those things. Sandy Sansi is a Chevrolet owner in Pensacola, and he would come to the zoo and he’d do an ad on the elephant or do an ad with a lion or something. He gave us a lot of exposure because he was selling cars 15 times a day and well liked in the community too. So I think I got a lot of free publicity through Sandy Sansi he has a BMW, he has Honda, he has Nissan, he has five automotive companies that he sells for. And when you talk about the community and bringing them to your zoo, let me ask you about one animal.

02:19:49 - 02:19:55

How important and what was the influence of Colossus to the Gulf Breeze Zoo?

02:19:57 - 02:20:36

It was our greatest popular year. Tell me about him, tell me who he was, how you acquired and tell me what his importance was. Colossus was a girl that was purchased in a pet shop in New York by this big pet shop company in New York, I can’t remember who it was now. But I think he paid 5,000 bucks for him. Gouldus paid $5,000 for him, and they raised this baby gorilla. To age five. In their home. And this was out in California.

02:20:36 - 02:21:21

Thousand Oaks, California probably. They supplied movie animals. To bring a gorilla, the world’s largest low land gorilla into Pensacola was the first gorilla ever in the whole state except for down south like Tampa. So when we came in, it was a big operation. And really interesting is that the pilot was- Tell them about the auction, start with the auction. Oh, wait a minute. In Prentice. Well I’ve already told them that.

02:21:21 - 02:21:22

You did?

02:21:22 - 02:21:37

Yeah. About apprentice and the auction. Anyway. Okay, I’ll start there. They were going to auction this gorilla, the animals off and a friend of ours, well, one of the shareholders in the zoo, he bought the gorilla for $37,000.

02:21:39 - 02:21:45

Then he calls me and says, “You got a place to put a gorilla?

02:21:45 - 02:22:43

I said, “No.” He said, “Well, you better get one, we own a gorilla.” And that’s how quickly it went and I got busy. We built that exhibit for what $80,000, the whole thing. It’s a big yard with walls and pool and things to climb on and indoor heated buildings and all that stuff. So we ended up with that gorilla and it hit the press and it was all over the world. This gorilla was living in a glass cage at Benson’s Animal Farm all his life. We bought him and it’s very interesting, we bought him and had a bedroom. I got the bars to make his bedroom from the jail, from the old jail, they gave me all the bars and things. So I had all the doors and everything put it together, it worked.

02:22:45 - 02:23:36

So the day that he was coming out, the press was there, everybody was there, TV, everybody. Colossus comes out, and he’s been living in this glass cage on concrete for all of his life. He comes out, the door opens, he walks out, pulling his towel, had his blanket with him and touches the grass. Never been on grass. And I said, “This is the first time this gorilla’s touched grass. And he was touching it, patting it, it was real emotional. So he came out and he was a magnificent animal. He and I had a really good relationship.

02:23:38 - 02:24:10

I caught him and immobilized him twice because we electroejaculated him to check his sperms and things like that, he was very weak, his sperm count. Because gorillas are the biggest of all the primates, but their penises are about that long (laughs). So anyway, we tried to inseminate a female gorilla, but we’ve got a female gorilla named Muki.

02:24:11 - 02:24:13

Where did she come from?

02:24:13 - 02:24:14

I don’t know.

02:24:14 - 02:24:15


02:24:15 - 02:24:17

Might have been Cincinnati. Yeah, Cincinnati.

02:24:17 - 02:24:18

Not sure where, was it Cincinnati?

02:24:18 - 02:24:20

Yeah. She never liked Colossus.

02:24:20 - 02:24:20


02:24:20 - 02:24:22

She never liked Colossus, did she?

02:24:22 - 02:25:15

No. Knocked the hell out of him. Big dummy. So we got this female gorilla in and she went by Colossus and just knocked the snot out of him. They lived together, but they never bred. But when Edmond Russ at Cincinnati zoo, he’s a collector, he really is a collector, whatever he collects, and Diana told me this, he said, he collects that gorilla, you’ll never get it back, he’s a collector, you’ll never get him back. We sent him out there on a breeding loan. Breeding loan, she said, “You’ll never get him back, he’s a collector.” And our entire community loved that gorilla and Ellie.

02:25:15 - 02:26:04

Ellie, our elephant and Colossus, they were big- Big issues. Big draw. So anyway. Important to the community. Edmond Russ threatened me with a gorilla SSP and all that stuff. I said, “I’ll tell you what you do, you make sure I want a pair of gorillas down there and you can take Colossus and he was happy to have Colossus, but now we got a pair of gorillas. Although they had some relation in their breeding, it wasn’t not in a long time or not very much. So he sent those two gorillas to us and he got Colossus, made his ratings go way up.

02:26:07 - 02:26:28

But today, we have a baby gorilla from that pair and potential for more. So anyway, Pensacola has a pair of gorillas and a youngster that was born there. Now, when Colossus was at the zoo, as you indicated, he was a big draw.

02:26:28 - 02:26:29


02:26:29 - 02:26:32

Big draw. Biggest draw in the history of the zoo at that time.

02:26:32 - 02:26:39

So at that time. So people came to the zoo in the community, they paid their money, was a positive year?

02:26:40 - 02:26:52

Tell me a little thing about fundraising. You had this initial investment, but now you had to get funds because you were talking about the difficulty.

02:26:52 - 02:26:55

How did you find the funding for the zoo?

02:26:55 - 02:26:57

Was it just through the gate?

02:26:57 - 02:27:03

Were you trying to go to people to give you additional money?

02:27:03 - 02:27:05

What was your operation?

02:27:05 - 02:28:01

Well, we had partners. Each one of us, the four or five of us had money in the zoo and we kept growing money from that. Or we borrowed money to build a train or carousel or whatever. Our investors, if we had a bad year, we would put in money according to your percentage of ownership. And if you couldn’t put that up, you would lose part of your percentage of ownership. A couple of our investors were wealthy men that would never have a problem doing that or several of them actually. But we survived on the gate, we did get some donations, family memberships, and borrowing money from our investors. That’s how we survived.

02:28:01 - 02:28:37

Now, you have done a lot of fundraising for other organizations. Can you just give me a little bit about Rhino Ark in Kenya or World Wildlife Fund or Zambia with the guns or Tsavo. You’ve done a lot of other fundraising for these organizations. No, I didn’t know all that. It’s public information. One of the things we did, I was involved in, I don’t know whether this is the right order, but they needed shotguns for anti-poaching in Swazi.

02:28:41 - 02:28:42

And I got 10 guns?

02:28:47 - 02:29:40

I don’t know numbers, I have no idea. 10 guns over there. They wanted shotguns because they were working in thick bush with these anti-poachers, which is better than just a rifle, one slug. So we did that. I helped raise money to buy a helicopter for Ted Ghost in Tsavo Park Kenya. I took capture equipment to the Rhino Arc and the guns and equipment and things like that to give to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Daphne Shedrick sent us a gift of a painting. And I’m going blank now on the crayon drawing that we have in our living room.

02:29:40 - 02:30:10

That wasn’t Daphne, that was Sally Church. Sally Church gave it to us, but it was from Daphne Sheldrick. And it was a thank you because of something we did, we sold her t-shirts in our gift shop. And the money went to her, whatever it was that Daphne was involved with. So that’s when we got that crayon drawing thing of elephant damage from- You saw the movie “Out of Africa?” Kamante Gatura.

02:30:10 - 02:30:12

Remember Kamante the kitchen boy with a bad leg?

02:30:12 - 02:30:31

A house boy for Isaac Dennis. We have one of his original paintings in crayon. Which has probably got quite a bit of value now because a lot of his stuff was destroyed by fire and whatever remains is here in the United States now.

02:30:31 - 02:30:42

I’m a young zoo director, I come to you Pat and I say, “Can you give me some hints for good fundraising?” What do you tell me?

02:30:50 - 02:31:23

Well, you gotta do something that people want to do. If you want to have wine tasting or you want to have mullet fries or you want to get a committee together and have them approach people with money to raise money. But ours zoo was not an non-profit, so you can’t write that off. So we weren’t allowed to do that, and that’s why we didn’t get a lot of donations. We got some, but not many.

02:31:25 - 02:31:27

What was your relationship with the Zoo Society?

02:31:27 - 02:31:31

And did it change over the years?

02:31:31 - 02:32:40

Tell me about it. The Zoo Society, one of the problems with it, we had a committee and a committee that designs a horse ends up with a camel, as you know it. Some of the people liked me, some of them didn’t like me. And there was a battle going on here with people who had interest in the zoo but no zoological experience and making calls and making decisions. But when you have a non-profit, you gotta put up with that. You got a nonprofit, you’re gonna have a board. But I’m glad I got out of that because all you do is piss one person up and they’re your life’s misery the rest of your life, they snag you, pick on you. It’s better just to do your own thing and don’t depend on them.

02:32:41 - 02:32:52

Somebody’s gotta make the decision, but you need good leadership for that, somebody who has vision and somebody has got be really committed to follow.

02:32:53 - 02:32:58

Were you involved with the zoo in AAZPA?

02:33:00 - 02:33:04

And how important is it to be active in organizations like this?

02:33:06 - 02:33:43

Well, I was AZA member. And accredited. And accredited. Obviously that was quite a challenge. But AZA began to be a bureaucracy organization to tell you where you’re gonna present in your next animal. What was happening in the network of the guys in that clique got to make all the decisions to get the SSP animals. All they wanted was my animals to go to the SSP somewhere else. Nobody was offering me anything for it, so I didn’t stay with that.

02:33:43 - 02:33:58

It became more and more expensive too. I started VAA instead of AZA, I went to ZAA It’s a big organization now, I started that in my office.

02:33:59 - 02:34:00

How did that start?

02:34:00 - 02:34:01


02:34:01 - 02:34:02

How did it start?

02:34:02 - 02:34:03

How did it start?

02:34:03 - 02:34:45

Yeah, it started in your office, just you decided or you had a group of people. Yeah, I decided. Well, you were the zoo culturalist and somebody in another group. And you had a meeting at our… In our office at the zoo. And we developed an organization called ZAA instead of AZA. ZAA, a lot of the AZA zoos have been dumped and they’re going to ZAA now. If you check the number of zoos are doing it, they got out of it.

02:34:45 - 02:36:46

Well, the people that were private and the people that were little guys or privately owned facilities or people that just had small collections, some not open to the public, some open to the public, they needed a voice, they needed to be able to communicate together and share information. They also were ostracized from a lot of the big institutions who were accredited by the AAZPA. These small group of people, they wanted standards, they wanted approval, they wanted to meet standards, they wanted approval, but it was difficult for them. Maybe financially difficult for them to pay AAAZPA or AZA dues or they were ignored by or they were not able to get animals from- We were dealing mostly with zoos that had AZA that were working for the government and they were working for city or county and they were funded. But people like- Mickey Olson. Mickey Olson and me, we wanna run our own corporations, we don’t want somebody else tell us how to run it. As long as we’re doing things that are ethical, you can’t take my products and tell me what to do with it, they’re mine, they belong to the corporation. You can’t just arbitrarily have somebody, you gotta send that camel over there to Joe Blow’s place, that didn’t work with me.

02:36:46 - 02:36:55

And it won’t work with people like Mickey Olson or Alex Salisbury, we wanna- Or Wide Oak.

02:36:55 - 02:36:56


02:36:56 - 02:37:01

Or Wide Oak. Or Wide Oak, yeah. Or probably Fossil Rim. Fossil Rim.

02:37:01 - 02:37:06

Why was it important though to be AZA accredited?

02:37:06 - 02:37:38

Because you did work for accreditation. Pat felt it was very important. You want your facility to meet the high standards. Even if you’re a little park, even if you’re privately owned, you want your facility to be a first class facility, you want to meet the standards, you want to have the association of the AZA so you can attend the meetings and learn things. Trade animals. Trade animals and talk to other directors. If you’ve got a problem, you’ve got people to communicate with. You need that…

02:37:39 - 02:37:40


02:37:43 - 02:37:47

Do you think the two organizations are covering different things?

02:37:47 - 02:38:49

I think they have different motives somewhat. I think most of the AZA zoos now, and I don’t know many of them that are privately owned, I don’t know. But I know that there has been a trend, and you don’t have to be a big city board to have a zoological park. Because most of these zoological parks started with a guy that had a collection of animals that were privately owned. The city didn’t say, let’s build a zoo here and we’re gonna be a non-profit zoo. They had somebody that had some animals there that wanted to donate them to the community. That’s how they got started, and that’s what we did.

02:38:49 - 02:38:53

How long have you been in the zoo community?

02:38:56 - 02:39:23

Well, you include my experience with wild animals at home and in the wild, it’s a long time. But I was in AZA in the ’60s. In the ’60s. Yeah, you joined in the ’60s. About ’65. I went to the first conference in Busch Gardens, that’s where my first conference was. So let me get some opinions then from a guy who’s been in the profession.

02:39:23 - 02:39:29

To begin with, what do you think made you a good zoo director, you personally?

02:39:33 - 02:40:01

Well, selfishly, I was doing what my heart told me to do and what I had struggled to do all my life. So I was happy that I had chosen that career and I regretted not having more education. But I didn’t have the time to do that, I was too busy working.

02:40:04 - 02:40:18

What can a small zoo or maybe even a medium size zoo do today to be more involved in conservation, either nationally or international, what can they do?

02:40:19 - 02:41:49

I think that part of their goal now, whether it’s, I don’t know about the city zoos I don’t know how they do that. But the private sector, I think should make a commitment to some organization that is important for conservation of animals. It could be The Nature Conservancy, it could be the Rhino Trust or Rhino Ark, it could be elephants, it might be pheasants and quail, I don’t know. But I think everybody in this industry should have a pet project and support it and support it well and certainly talk about that at their facilities. If they want to really educate the public and get funding for things like anti-poaching, then you have a film. So showing elephants with their damn tusk cut out and their ears cut off and things like that to let people be aware of what’s really going on with these things like elephants and rhino. Now, I don’t know what your experience is, but today, in many instances, zoos seem to be afraid to confront animal rights or animal rights groups.

02:41:51 - 02:41:57

What experience have you had with your zoo with animal rights people?

02:41:57 - 02:42:00

And if you have, how did you handle it?

02:42:02 - 02:42:18

First of all, the animal rights people, those zealots are dealing with emotion only and no science, I can tell you that, it’s an emotional thing. Now, you’re supposed to have a little emotion, but this is all emotion and no science.

02:42:26 - 02:42:28

Well, what was that question again?

02:42:28 - 02:42:31

Well, have you had experience with animal rights groups?

02:42:31 - 02:42:32

That’s what I wanted.

02:42:32 - 02:42:33

And how did you handle them?

02:42:33 - 02:42:38

Well, I had an animal rights group, Fund for Animals, you know what that is?

02:42:38 - 02:42:41

I had that group. Cleveland Ambers, Fund for Animals. Fund for Animals.

02:42:41 - 02:42:45

I had, not the SPC, what’s that other PETA?

02:42:50 - 02:43:02

PETA. I forgot what group it was, but that was one of those. Asked me to trap an animal so they could film it to sell memberships. And that turned me off on them.

02:43:02 - 02:43:03

That was at Lion Country, wasn’t it?

02:43:03 - 02:43:08

Lion Country Safari, that was long time ago. That’s what they wanted to do. That turned me off.

02:43:08 - 02:43:11

It’s like HSUS, how much money do they have?

02:43:13 - 02:43:17

They’re loaded with money, but how many animals have they saved?

02:43:17 - 02:43:46

Number one, the HSUS should be thinking about, you can create another frigging dog, you cannot create another elephant or rhino. Not that I’m against dogs, I love them, I got four of them. But you gotta put your energy where it’ll do the most good and most practical. Wildlife needs help, dogs and cats, plenty of them.

02:43:48 - 02:43:59

In your years, what changes have you seen during your time in the zoo field regarding visitor attitudes for zoos?

02:44:07 - 02:44:36

Well, I think zoos are very important. I think in a community that needs good theaters, good symphonies, good opera, good libraries, good museums, and then good zoological parks. It’s part of our cultural assets and educational assets in any community.

02:44:37 - 02:44:43

What issues caused you the most concern during your career at Gulf Breeze?

02:44:44 - 02:44:45

What were they?

02:44:47 - 02:45:55

Usually state or federal regulations have been the most irritating, I think, and restrictive. Some of it has been necessary, but much of it has been pushed by lobbyists from people that have these PETA type people, the lawyers working for them. It may not be the best road to take to save wildlife. I wish they could understand that, and this’ll make a lot of people mad, as I said, you can make another dog and a cat, you cannot make another elephant or a rhino or whooping crane. So I think we need to really concentrate on those things. I know that dogs need help and know that cats need help. But what we need to do is we need to train people to neuter the damn cats and dogs and not to trap a cat out in the wild and in neuter it and turn it loose again. Cats kill 130 million birds a year in North America.

02:45:55 - 02:46:37

People will take that cat, turn it out in the yard and it’ll kill the whole… My cat don’t kill no birds, bullshit, they’ll kill anything. They wanna hunt, they’ll kill it. Cats will kill birds and others things, lizards. Cats will eat the things that our foxes at our hawks and our Eagles, our snakes need. And they’re everywhere, millions of them. They get feral very quickly and they do a lot of damage. Quite frankly, in hunting clubs, all the hunting clubs I’ve ever been in, we shoot every cat we see on our hunting property.

02:46:37 - 02:46:56

Because that burger is out there eating quail, catching birds, spreading disease, eating things that our foxes and other thing needs. Now, in the future. Now, tell PETA that, tell them to see me if they want to talk about it.

02:46:56 - 02:46:58

Have you ever personally had a problem with PETA?

02:46:58 - 02:47:07

I don’t remember. Yeah, in Lion Country, I had some problems with PETA and the press.

02:47:10 - 02:47:13

How’d you deal with it?

02:47:14 - 02:47:21

I offered to throw their cameras and their ass to Paws. Wanted nothing. They left.

02:47:24 - 02:47:34

With issues for zoos, what issues would you like, and you’ve talked a little about it, what issues would you like to see zoos address in the future?

02:47:34 - 02:47:35

What’s that again?

02:47:35 - 02:47:41

What issues would you like to see zoos address in the future?

02:47:41 - 02:47:48

Whether they’re private or public zoos, what are the issues you think zoo should be addressing?

02:47:50 - 02:49:00

I certainly think captive animal management needs to be really watched because that’s where a lot of people get bad vibes, from some people keeping animals. And some, no matter what you do, won’t like it if you have an animal in a cage or on exhibit. But you have to understand that it’s like, a cheater breaks a toe, that cheetah will starve to death. It breaks a toe, it can’t hunt, it can’t run. In a zoo, in a captive situation, like the Rimrock Ranch and things, your cat breaks a toe and a veterinarian mobilizes it, then you repair the thing, and the cat goes on. But in the wild, that cat’s gone. I remember seeing cheetahs that had run through a fire burn, sad thing, their feet were all burned. I remember seeing a cheetah’s burnt feet.

02:49:02 - 02:49:15

What, and you have told me that you had an elephant right now, the hot topic, at least one of them for zoos, is the maintaining of elephants in collections.

02:49:15 - 02:49:21

What’s your opinion about zoo’s maintaining elephants in collections?

02:49:23 - 02:50:44

I think zoos should be on display in zoological parks. But I think they’re going need to really research the social structure of these animals certainly nutrition and certainly territories. It would be a shame that kids couldn’t go to the zoo and see an elephant or ride an elephant. Because a kid rides in elephant, he’s gonna be more prone to give money to elephants than a kid that’s never been on an elephant. It’s the things that you associated with is what you love. But I think elephants have, and we kept elephants at Lion Country, but they were free ranging in the daytime and went up at night and they were more than one, they were all Africans and not Asians. They got along pretty well and they bred, had calves, and walked them on the traffic and put the trunks in the cars. It was Lion Country, that was a really good experience.

02:50:45 - 02:51:35

Our elephant, Ellie, was a huge draw and we sold her paintings, et cetera. But Ellie had gotten big and was a lump and you did not feel that was a good situation for our elephant. And that elephant- It was a huge sacrifice to give that elephant up but Pat felt that the elephant needed to be in a breeding program and needed to be with other elephants, it shouldn’t be alone, it needed to be in a larger facility. We couldn’t afford that, we knew we couldn’t afford that, and it wasn’t right. So he sent her off and she’s now produced. Has produced babies. Has produced a young and she’s with a group and she’s in a better situation, and we’re happy about that. I went down and saw her a few years after she went down there and she recognized me, she brought her calf right up to me.

02:51:35 - 02:52:12

And there was criticism by our board for doing that, but that’s what he felt was important. I used to take Ellie, I’d take her downtown, walk through the bank with her and she’d make a deposit right on the floor. A little baby elephant following me around. Or I’d be at parades, that baby elephant was in a parade. She’d go in the pond, remember you keepers used to- Go swimming with her in the lakes. I’d take her out in the woods and let her tear down trees and all kinds of stuff, she got a hell of a- Then she got big and she was alone. Now, you talked about your board was a little opposed to that.

02:52:12 - 02:52:25

When you were building the zoo and as the zoo progressed, what extent did the politics of the local county or city politics play in your zoo?

02:52:27 - 02:52:30

Did you cultivate the politicians?

02:52:30 - 02:52:31

Did they help you?

02:52:32 - 02:53:05

Well, we had a good relationship with them, but we didn’t take any money from the politicians or we didn’t take any money from the zoo tax payers. It was not a tax burden that people who paid for the zoo didn’t have to go through a tax office, it went directly to the gate and we paid taxes to the state and the federal government is how it works.

02:53:10 - 02:53:20

Do you think that education is doing any good within zoos, particularly boosting the image of zoos among the public?

02:53:20 - 02:54:16

I’m not involved in that anymore since I’ve retired and it’s been a while. I think the important thing is, and I talked to you about this earlier, the important thing is that we need to do some basic stuff. Our children need to have something to do in the morning, that’s something to care for besides going to their laptop. They need to be responsible for feeding and caring for and learning about some animal, whether it be chickens or pigeons or ducks or rabbits or whatever. Young people need to be involved in animals somehow.

02:54:19 - 02:54:26

I mentioned the walk in the woods, Last Child in the Woods, you said you read the book?

02:54:26 - 02:55:35

Jim said that Michelle from the aquarium. They talk about how much having a view of trees and pasture has helped criminals in prison, just to have a view of a creek or a tree. That group of people, they were easy to manage and easy to get along with. The ones that couldn’t see anything but another wall were trouble, and I don’t blame them. So I’m not a preacher, but every day of my life, when I look up and see clouds or see stars, I thank our creator for making this wonderful world. I love the thunder, love the rain, this change of seasons, bird migrations, all those things give me a lot of inner peace.

02:55:38 - 02:55:43

To what extent right now do you continue to be active in the zoo field?

02:55:44 - 02:55:57

Well, I’m still a member of the organization. The ZAA. The ZAA. And I hope to go to another conference one day.

02:55:59 - 02:56:04

I know we’re having one in Las Vegas sometime this month, isn’t it?

02:56:04 - 02:56:08

I think it’s this month. You mentioned your work with rhinos and elephants.

02:56:08 - 02:56:09


02:56:09 - 02:56:12

You mentioned your work with rhinos and elephants. Yes, I wanna do that.

02:56:12 - 02:56:13

Do you continue to do that now?

02:56:13 - 02:56:15

I wanna continue that, yes.

02:56:16 - 02:56:24

If you could go back in time, is there anything you would have done differently?

02:56:24 - 02:56:58

Yeah, I would have married her earlier, I probably should have had a better education. But I was very lucky to have a lot of field experience. I was mobilizing animals in Africa when a lot of my buddies were still in college. You had a lot of good mentors too.

02:56:58 - 02:56:59


02:56:59 - 02:57:04

People that took interest in you that were mentors for you. I had a lot of mentors.

02:57:06 - 02:57:09

Well, who was one of the more important mentors to you?

02:57:09 - 02:57:09


02:57:09 - 02:57:14

Who was one of the more important mentors to you?

02:57:14 - 02:58:11

Well, Marlon Perkins was a mentor, Carol Perkins was a mentor, my friend, Dr. Jim Potter and Dr. Ksalski and those were mentors of mine. I had guys when I was a kid. I would raise pheasants or pigeons, I’d go over there and visit with them. One of the things we had when I was a kid, we had a chicken cage out in the back behind the grocery store. And in that grocery store, people brought in things like chickens to get a pound of sugar or barter exchange, put the chicken in the pen. I’d go by there every day and check that pen. And the first Muscovy duck I saw, I went crazy, I gotta have that damn duck, so I got that duck. Brought a chicken in, got the duck.

02:58:11 - 02:58:39

The duck flew away, I ran after it, I ran almost a mile. It landed on a pond over on Justice Keith Ofra’s property. I caught that damn bird again and brought it back because that was the first Muscovy duck I ever saw and I had to have my hands on it. That Muscovy duck learned he couldn’t get away from me, I don’t care how much he flew. Now, you had mentioned mentors.

02:58:39 - 02:58:41

How did they help you?

02:58:42 - 02:58:44

How did Marlon help you?

02:58:44 - 02:59:13

Well, he helped me because he did Wild Kingdom and I was interested in Wild Kingdom, so that was interesting. In fact, what I was gonna tell you a while ago. And he came to the opening of our zoo and helped. That was great, and he was a huge draw. And he came more than once and then Carol came on her own after Marlon had died. So Marlon was a supporter. He was a supporter and he even made a donation.

02:59:13 - 02:59:15

How did you fathom that?

02:59:15 - 02:59:29

And Jim Fell’s been to the zoo many times. He’s been there and he’s appointed as an honorary board of the symphony or the opera or something. So there’s been several people there. And a question for Diana.

02:59:29 - 02:59:30


02:59:30 - 02:59:32

A question for Diana, a specific question.

02:59:32 - 02:59:36

What has being part of the zoo meant to you?

02:59:37 - 03:00:20

Being part of the zoo meant to me. Well, closer to Pat for one thing. When I was growing up, I can remember that I told pat, I told him many times, when I was young, I wanted to grow up and live on a farm, I loved animals. My parents never allowed many pets, we would have one cat or one dog. And if there was something wrong, we had got a shelter dog once and she was blind, so they made us give her up. She was a wonderful dog, but because she wasn’t perfect, because she was blind, we had to take the dog back. That was very hysterical. I was very upset about that as a child.

03:00:21 - 03:01:00

I have one of the most wonderful things, this guy. First of all, number one, when I met him, I had never met anybody with this much energy. I could not believe the amount of energy he had. He was very athletic, he could climb trees, he could rope animals, he was physically very fit. And he was an exciting person. If you went to Africa with him, he out walked everybody. He knew all of these incredible facts about animals and had such a passion for it. I don’t think I’d ever met anybody that had such a passion for something.

03:01:00 - 03:01:38

And through my life with Pat, I’ve had all kinds of just wonderful experiences I don’t think I ever would’ve had. I’ve lived with a lion, I had- Slept with chimps. Bears. Couldn’t get through the house without a broom because of the, not cheetahs, tigers. Tigers. Tigers and grizzlies. Wonderful experiences like that because I love working with animals. And all of our trips, just amazing, it’s opened to a whole world for me. I had never even been out of the United States and now I’ve been to many countries because of him.

03:01:40 - 03:02:14

I was very, very shy, very much of an introvert, excruciatingly shy, and Pat pushed me. I was nervous and very difficult for me to even pick up the phone and invite someone to dinner. He kept pushing me and he’s always been very much of a people person, he wanted to be around people all the time, et cetera. He really helped me in that respect because he wanted to be with people.

03:02:18 - 03:02:21

Did I answer that in any way?

03:02:23 - 03:02:31

Now, Pat recently, and you alluded to it, when did you retire as the active director?

03:02:33 - 03:02:34

Of the zoo?

03:02:34 - 03:02:35

And why?

03:02:37 - 03:02:55

When the Zoological Society took over. The Zoological Society took over the zoo and I decided it was not a good time for me to be there, and I was right. That was when- Doug.

03:02:55 - 03:02:57


03:02:57 - 03:03:02

Yeah, I think you might be right, 2004. Doug Good was head of that then.

03:03:04 - 03:03:09

But why did you feel was time to retire when the Zoo Society took over?

03:03:09 - 03:03:11

What were the reasons?

03:03:13 - 03:03:54

I don’t do well with a committee designing camels, particularly if they’re not in this industry. So I’m a little hardheaded about things like that. I don’t have a lot of patience. You had no desire, they wanted to… I remember Bobby Switzer, I believe, wanted to actually move you to be in charge of working with the non-profit, and you just did not want to do that. You did not feel that you would be good at that. I’m not, You recognized it, that you wanted to step down if that was not what you wanted to do.

03:03:55 - 03:03:59

Were you involved in hiring the new director?

03:03:59 - 03:04:10

Yeah. Yes, he was, he hired him. Grave mistake. Excuse me. Grave mistake.

03:04:10 - 03:04:13

Can you explain that, why?

03:04:14 - 03:05:06

It’s difficult to explain, that’s difficult to explain. It shouldn’t be said. Turned out not to be the right person for the job. He was very creative and he wanted to just be out in the park building exhibits, but he- Just wanted snakes. Puts someone in charge, a woman, she was our- Our restaurant. She was our restaurant manager. And he put her in charge of everything and she was not honest, she was not a good choice. When Eric took over- And he didn’t wanna be out with the public, he didn’t want anyone, he wanted to be building exhibits.

03:05:06 - 03:05:36

When Eric said, “I went over these books. When Diana had it and you had it, I could see where every dollar went. But when I looked at these books that the society had, I could make tails of what was going on.” There’s no way you could keep books that way, so that told us something going on there. That’s my fault for hiring him. So at this point in time, you’re the founder and you’re the director emeritus.

03:05:36 - 03:05:39

Are you still involved with the zoo in any way?

03:05:39 - 03:05:49

Other than talking about it and giving out brochures when I go to places and restaurants and things like that and talk to people, “Have you been to the zoo?

03:05:49 - 03:06:04

Have you been to our zoo?” And everywhere I go, I talk about it. He loves Eric and he’s got a good relationship with Eric. Eric Murphys has done a good job there, he’s a good guy. I’m really happy with what he’s doing. I trust him. The whole family, they’re a wonderful family.

03:06:04 - 03:06:07

Now, has the zoo gone back to being private then?

03:06:07 - 03:06:12

Yes, thank God. I think Eric bought it in 2009.

03:06:15 - 03:06:21

Were there things when you left the zoo that you felt you wanted to accomplish that you haven’t?

03:06:21 - 03:07:18

The museum, the museum. One of the things I, yeah, that’s true, thank you for that. One of the things I really wanted to do and I really wanted to do it, and I never did it, lazy I guess, is I wanted to build a museum for blind and handicap children. So blind and handicapped children could feel a porcupine or an armadillo or a snake or a turtle shell or ostrich feather as opposed to a turkey feather, those kinds of things. I thought that would be… I’m hoping there’s not that many blind people that would make it successful, but I thought it would be a good thing to do for humanity. Now, at some point, you had gained AZA accreditation when you first were there. But then you lost AZA.

03:07:18 - 03:07:41

I didn’t lose it. He didn’t. The society lost it. The society lost it. They lost it because they were hiding venomous snakes. The director there was hiding venomous snakes they weren’t supposed to have, no anti-venom. And he lost accreditation and that’s what happened. I didn’t lose accreditation, we were accredited when I left.

03:07:41 - 03:07:44

They were doing things that didn’t work.

03:07:44 - 03:07:45

Was that a surprise to you?

03:07:45 - 03:08:03

No, it angered me, made me angry. Not surprised, I was angry. I was angry at myself for bringing him aboard, and I was right.

03:08:08 - 03:08:13

What would you say is, at least one, of your proudest accomplishment?

03:08:14 - 03:08:21

We’ve talked about things you wanted to do but didn’t accomplish, but what is your proudest accomplishment?

03:08:21 - 03:08:46

Probably my family, my son, our sons. I’m gonna go with the zoological filter. I think the legacy of my being has been the zoo, that’s what I hoped to accomplish. And so far it’s there and it’s got bronze plaques of us there, so I think it’s there to stay.

03:08:47 - 03:08:49

Does the community still continue to be supportive?

03:08:49 - 03:09:09

Oh, yeah. Very much so. Yeah, they’re doing it. It’ll do about 400,000 people this year. And our economic impact is over $10 million just because the zoo is there. So it’s a big issue in our community. Now, you’ve traveled around in Africa and you’ve been around.

03:09:09 - 03:09:27

Are there zoos nationally or internationally that you’ve admired the things that they’ve done, whether it be in exhibitry or the way they’ve managed it or the way their zoo directors have managed it?

03:09:27 - 03:09:49

Are there zoos that you have looked to to say, “Yeah, they’re doing a good job?” Some these zoos, like Frankford Zoo is a good zoo, Amsterdam Zoo is a pretty good zoo, I think, of course, San Diego is a great zoo too.

03:09:59 - 03:10:04

How many zoos do you think you’ve been to in your life?

03:10:04 - 03:10:53

Maybe 20, maybe 15, 20. We know a lot of zoo people who they always were at the conferences and they also always were traveling around the United States to other zoos. And for 20 years, we were there at the park for seven days a week at our own zoo instead of doing that, instead of visiting other parks. So usually we only saw another zoo if it was at a conference that we could afford to attend. Sometimes there were conferences we felt that we couldn’t take the money to go to. I loved the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, that was great too.

03:10:58 - 03:11:11

So do you think you would like to see the zoo, you talked about this continuation of the legacy and the things that you built, would you like to see the zoo again have AZA accreditation?

03:11:12 - 03:11:13

It has.

03:11:13 - 03:11:15

It AZA accreditation now?

03:11:15 - 03:11:21

No, CAA. But would you like to see- We got away from AZA. All right.

03:11:21 - 03:11:22

So you don’t see the zoo going back to AZA?

03:11:22 - 03:11:52

I don’t know. Well, actually I think I heard Eric say that he- May look at it. I think he might be interested in having an AZA accreditation. But he will not tolerate AZA dictating what he’s gonna do with this stuff. If he can’t do that, he won’t join. If he has to do that, he won’t join. And he does need to, he’s very successful. He can buy most of the zoos in this country.

03:11:52 - 03:12:27

And he’s building a 600 acre place up near Montgomery. He’s already fenced it already. He’s gonna build a drive through park up there. And he’s building another one near Nashville, so he’s spreading, he’s doing the right thing. What he’s doing, he’s taken groups of animals that are totally unrelated and bringing in new blood, new studs, new females, and he’s gonna be raising these unrelated animals that are not inbred, that’s what his goal is, and he’s gonna do a really good job.

03:12:27 - 03:12:29

Are you speaking about hoofstock?

03:12:29 - 03:12:30


03:12:30 - 03:12:44

Hoofstock, antelopes. More than just hoofstock, but yes, hoofstock mostly. So it may be in the zoos future to be AZA, but that’s up to the new director. Yes.

03:12:45 - 03:12:47

Does he come to you?

03:12:47 - 03:12:50

Do you give him advice?

03:12:50 - 03:12:52

Does he seek you as a mentor?

03:12:52 - 03:13:13

He talks to me and I talk to him and we have lunch once in a while. Hell, I’ve known him since he was a college boy. So he does a good job at the zoo, he’s put a lot of money into it and improved the facility.

03:13:16 - 03:13:18

And he’s got a good director now too, doesn’t he?

03:13:18 - 03:13:50

Yeah, a very good director. A very nice, man. So he’s not the day to day director of the zoo, he is more the owner of the zoo and he’s hired a director. He’s hired a director. But he owns a home close by and he’s there often. So right now, the zoo has ZAA accreditation, may get AZA accreditation, you don’t know. We don’t know.

03:13:52 - 03:14:09

Do you think there’s a difference between the accreditation of both of the organizations or is that part of the difference between the two organizations, because you’ve been in AZA and you’ve been ZAA?

03:14:12 - 03:14:24

I don’t know, I’m not sure. I don’t think the standards are that different in either one of those, I really don’t.

03:14:33 - 03:14:40

What do you know about this profession that you’ve devoted your life to?

03:14:41 - 03:14:42

What would you tell me about it?

03:14:42 - 03:14:43

What’s that?

03:14:43 - 03:14:48

What do you know about this profession that you’ve devoted all of these years to?

03:14:50 - 03:14:51

What do I think about it?

03:14:51 - 03:14:58

Yeah, what stands out in your mind about this profession that you’ve given your whole life to it?

03:14:58 - 03:15:13

It’s allowed me to travel around the world, it’s allowed me to meet people around the world, it’s allowed me to do lectures and educate people about fauna around the world.

03:15:16 - 03:15:20

So how would you like to be remembered?

03:15:26 - 03:15:49

Well, what came to mind when you said that is when, I think it was Bob Hope’s wife, said, “Bobby, do you wanna be buried at Forest Lawn or do you wanna be buried at that other place?” He said, “Surprise me.” So, surprised me.

03:15:58 - 03:16:00

In the zoo community, how do you wanna be remembered?

03:16:00 - 03:16:02


03:16:02 - 03:16:05

how do you want to be remembered?

03:16:05 - 03:17:23

Well, I think I would like to be remembered I think for the things that I have accomplished. And things I didn’t accomplish, I’d like to ignore those. So here’s a kid from Tennessee without a college education that wanted to be in the zoo business and ended up building a zoo, owning a zoo, and seeing a lot of the world, where the animals lived, birds lived, mammals and the birds. It’s given me the opportunity to meet some really interesting people, you’re one of them. I made a lot of friends, not too many enemies, and I think that’s important. I don’t go to court, if you tell them… I had a friend that said, “You wanna know about a guy’s character, see how many time he’s going to court.” (laughs) How many many times I’ve been for a judge, so that’s good advice. Pat Quinn and Diana, thank you very much for the interview.

03:17:23 - 03:17:25

Thank you. We appreciate it.

About Walter C. “Pat” Quinn

Walter C. “Pat” Quinn
Download Curricula Vitae


Gulf Breeze Zoo: Gulf Breeze, Florida

Director Emeritus

Some folks start work at a zoo but Pat and some friends started the Northwest Florida Zoological Society. It was a dream to have a zoo in Pensacola. Before a zoo could be constructed he took a job as director of the San Francisco Zoo Children’s Zoo under the director Carey Baldwin. The lure of building a zoo in Pensacola brought him back to Florida and the job as director of the fledgling zoo. Soon a job as Zoological Director of Lion Country Safari is offered. Lion Country was one of the first open air drive through safari parks in the United States.

Then in 1979 a job is offered as zoo director of Benson’s Wild Animal Park. During this time period Pat traveled to Africa numerous times but he and his family had a disastrous experience at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi Kenya. On 31 December 1980 as Pat and his family celebrated the New Year a terrorist bomb exploded in the hotel. Although Pat and his family suffered wounds others in the hotel were killed. In 1983 he returned to Pensacola to purchase land and finally build a zoo. The gates of the Gulf Breeze Zoo opened in 1984.

Pat was one of founders of the Zoological Association of America. It is the second largest trade association for zoos in the United States. He retired in 2004.

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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.