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Dr. Lester Fisher, previous director of Lincoln Park Zoo, dead at 100

Dr. Lester Fisher, the previous director of Lincoln Park Zoo who served remodel the after aging facility into a renowned institution centered around education and learning and animal welfare, has died.

He was 100 several years old.

Lincoln Park president and CEO Kevin Bell was hired by Fisher in 1976 and has served as the zoo’s CEO and president for the earlier 26 a long time. Bell, who described Fisher as a mentor and a close friend, strategies to stage down in January.

“A huge piece of my coronary heart is dropped. Les transformed ‘the old zoo’ into a chief internationally in the two exhibits and systems,” Bell reported Thursday. “He was so beloved by each and every zoo director from all elements of the earth, and in Chicago, he was a bit of a rock star. Strolling about the zoo with him meant halting consistently to indication autographs.”

Fisher “laid the foundation for the institution Lincoln Park Zoo is currently,” stated C. John Mostofi, chairman of the zoo’s board of trustees. “Dr. Fisher remodeled the zoo from an aged-fashioned facility into a centre of care and conservation. He created the 1st Good Ape Dwelling, with exhibits designed to mimic pure habitats, and now his identify graces the Dr. Lester E. Fisher Heart for the Examine and Conservation of Apes, one particular of the world’s foremost ape habits and science centers.”

Fisher labored at Lincoln Park Zoo almost 45 several years, commencing in 1947 and later on serving as the zoo’s director from 1962 right up until he retired in 1992. He was the zoo’s initially veterinarian.

Dr. Lester Fisher, with two baby gorillas, in 1974.
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Fisher is credited with reworking the zoo into a point out-of-the-art institution by renovating animal structures and habitats, strengthening education and learning all-around the animals and rising conservation efforts.

He experienced a specific affinity for gorillas, which he expended time researching in Africa. In 1976, the zoo opened the Lester E. Fisher Terrific Ape Residence, where by it carries on to get the job done with lowland gorillas. Under Fisher’s management, Lincoln Park Zoo “was home to the most significant gorilla population in North The usa.”

The Great Ape Dwelling was replaced by the Regenstein Center for African Apes in 2004. A spokesperson said “thanks to Dr. Fisher’s first efforts” the zoo’s ape facility “remains a person of the very best of its sort and is recognised around the world.”

Fisher “also crafted the 1st farm with domesticated animals in a zoo in the nation, bringing agriculture to a massive city inhabitants. Farm-in-the-Zoo is continue to beloved by grownup Chicagoans and children alike.”

Fisher’s function made him effectively-acknowledged outside of the zoo, primarily by way of his appearances on on the “Ark in the Park,” a section for the duration of the Ray Rayner and His Good friends morning clearly show on WGN-Tv set.

“We are deeply saddened at the passing of the legendary Dr. Lester Fisher, who graced our airwaves on his individual weekly sequence ‘Ark In the Park’ beginning in 1968,” a WGN-Television set spokesperson reported in a statement. “Dr. Fisher will be remembered for his kindness and tremendous contributions and will be significantly missed.”

In the course of those segments, Fisher would stroll viewers through what was new at Lincoln Park Zoo, demonstrate off numerous animals and educate about just about every animal’s purely natural habitat. He also would bring animals — like a baby chimp and sugar glider — to a further Chicago staple, The Bozo Display.

“Under his 30-year tenure, Fisher emphasised the relevance of educating the general public about the function zoos provide in modern society as conservation powerhouses,” the zoo reported in a assertion. “Visiting the zoo turned an instructional journey.”

Lincoln Park Zoo hosted a 90th birthday celebration for Dr. Lester E. Fisher, former zoo director, on Feb. 24, 2011, at Lincoln Park Zoo, in which the gorillas ended up addressed to cake, peanuts, popcorn and other goodies for the celebration.
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Before working at the zoo, Fisher served in the Army during Planet War II, wherever he cared for 5,000 messenger pigeons and also stored an eye on Standard George Patton’s bulldog “Willie,” according to the zoo.

Fisher also inspired animal treatment personnel to more their education and learning and introduced in authorities to conduct personnel education.

Despite Fisher’s staying properly earlier his leadership part with the zoo, he remained involved as recently as this thirty day period, furnishing advice to both equally Bell and Megan Ross, who is getting above as CEO and president.

“I will be for good grateful to him for conference with me and Kevin as a few generations of zoo directors, sharing his insights on the thrills and problems of operating an institution with animals in our treatment, and just sharing his tales from the ’60s and ’70s at Lincoln Park Zoo,” Ross claimed.

Dr. Lester Fisher at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1988.

Dr. Lester Fisher at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1988.
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