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

Dr. Lester Fisher, the former director of Lincoln Park Zoo who served change the after ageing facility into a renowned establishment centered all over education and animal welfare, has died.

He was 100 many 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 previous 26 yrs. Bell, who described Fisher as a mentor and a buddy, programs to move down in January.

“A major piece of my coronary heart is shed. Les reworked ‘the outdated zoo’ into a chief internationally in both displays and courses,” Bell said Thursday. “He was so beloved by every single zoo director from all elements of the earth, and in Chicago, he was a bit of a rock star. Strolling all-around the zoo with him intended stopping frequently to indicator autographs.”

Fisher “laid the foundation for the institution Lincoln Park Zoo is currently,” mentioned C. John Mostofi, chairman of the zoo’s board of trustees. “Dr. Fisher transformed the zoo from an outdated-fashioned facility into a centre of care and conservation. He created the to start with Terrific Ape Home, with displays built to mimic organic habitats, and now his identify graces the Dr. Lester E. Fisher Center for the Review and Conservation of Apes, 1 of the world’s major ape behavior and science centers.”

Fisher worked at Lincoln Park Zoo almost 45 decades, beginning in 1947 and afterwards serving as the zoo’s director from 1962 until he retired in 1992. He was the zoo’s first veterinarian.

Dr. Lester Fisher, with two toddler gorillas, in 1974.
Solar-Instances file

Fisher is credited with reworking the zoo into a point out-of-the-artwork establishment by renovating animal buildings and habitats, increasing education and learning all around the animals and growing conservation attempts.

He experienced a particular affinity for gorillas, which he spent time finding out in Africa. In 1976, the zoo opened the Lester E. Fisher Wonderful Ape Home, exactly where it proceeds to get the job done with lowland gorillas. Beneath Fisher’s management, Lincoln Park Zoo “was residence to the most significant gorilla inhabitants in North The us.”

The Wonderful Ape Residence was replaced by the Regenstein Centre for African Apes in 2004. A spokesperson claimed “thanks to Dr. Fisher’s original efforts” the zoo’s ape facility “remains just one of the best of its sort and is recognised worldwide.”

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

Fisher’s operate designed him nicely-recognised over and above the zoo, primarily by his appearances on on the “Ark in the Park,” a segment during the Ray Rayner and His Close friends morning exhibit on WGN-Tv.

“We are deeply saddened at the passing of the legendary Dr. Lester Fisher, who graced our airwaves on his very own weekly collection ‘Ark In the Park’ beginning in 1968,” a WGN-Tv set spokesperson mentioned in a statement. “Dr. Fisher will be remembered for his kindness and huge contributions and will be significantly skipped.”

Through individuals segments, Fisher would walk viewers by means of what was new at Lincoln Park Zoo, present off a variety of animals and instruct about every animal’s organic habitat. He also would convey animals — like a little one chimp and sugar glider — to one more Chicago staple, The Bozo Present.

“Under his 30-calendar year tenure, Fisher emphasized the importance of educating the public about the job zoos provide in modern society as conservation powerhouses,” the zoo said in a statement. “Visiting the zoo turned an educational journey.”

Lincoln Park Zoo hosted a 90th birthday celebration for Dr. Lester E. Fisher, previous zoo director, on Feb. 24, 2011, at Lincoln Park Zoo, exactly where the gorillas ended up addressed to cake, peanuts, popcorn and other goodies for the celebration.
Sunshine-Times Media STM

Right before operating at the zoo, Fisher served in the Army through Environment War II, in which he cared for 5,000 messenger pigeons and also held an eye on General George Patton’s bulldog “Willie,” according to the zoo.

Fisher also encouraged animal treatment staff to additional their schooling and brought in professionals to conduct staff education.

Despite Fisher’s currently being perfectly past his management job with the zoo, he remained involved as recently as this thirty day period, offering steering to the two Bell and Megan Ross, who is getting above as CEO and president.

“I will be permanently grateful to him for assembly with me and Kevin as 3 generations of zoo directors, sharing his insights on the thrills and troubles of running an establishment with animals in our care, and just sharing his tales from the ’60s and ’70s at Lincoln Park Zoo,” Ross explained.

Dr. Lester Fisher at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1988.

Dr. Lester Fisher at Lincoln Park Zoo in 1988.
Solar-Periods Media