Superstars & Other Wildlife I Met with the Zoo


I came to San Diego inside of the ’60s without having a job — and wound way up working in their very own famous zoo, gathering both human in addition to animal stars through Lassie and Ruler Tut to Fine art Linkletter, Jimmy Stewart and the internationally known “chimp lady” from Africa, Jane Goodall.

Being close to be able to Hollywood, many stars over the many years donned dark eye glasses and popped inside to visit our own menagerie incognito, which include Andy Griffith, Shirley Temple, Jerry Lewis and Cary Grant (who often halted by if he was throughout town for a weekend of tennis).

In the course of my seven decades as the zoo’s PR director, My partner and i had occasion in order to lunch with, or perhaps personally tour, some sort of dozen or thus popular celebs. In occasion, I interested one, like radio-TV notable Art Linkletter, a Hillcrest native, to cut a bows for a fresh exhibit or ride.

Several, including Arte Johnson, of the ’60s TV struck, “Laugh-In, ” plus long-time comedian, Phyllis Diller, became individual friends. I identified them to become warm and honestly humorous people. Dallas petting zoo exchanged calls and Christmas cards with both. And years later, they will even endorsed the first book involving humor.

One day, I drove a zoo car to the airport to pick up TV/radio star, Arthur Godfrey if he landed inside his private Lear Jet. An admitted long-time Hillcrest Tiergarten fan, he had decided to judge my personal “children’s zoo fine art contest” and present the top prize for a segment associated with our own syndicated TV show, “Zoorama. ” His guy judges were Linkletter and San Diegan, Ted Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss. “

The particular controversial Godfrey experienced once filmed the “live” segment regarding his top-rated present from your Children’s Tierpark. An un-diapered baby orangutan he kept had excitedly moist in the shirt. Robert in hand, Arthur commented to his nationwide audience, without absent a beat: “Honey, thousands have desired to do that – but you are definitely the first to do well! inches

A major name in the book entire world in the ’60s was Dr. Jesse Rueben, best-selling article author of “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask). ” He or she called me 1 day, saying this individual planned to help make a ten-grand monetary gift to the zoologischer garten (fachsprachlich) for a new primate exhibit. I actually managed to find a lot of press insurance coverage for his philanthropy – but was afraid to inquire him or her the several individual questions I acquired at heart.

For specific zoo events, We occasionally retained typically the always cooperative Marshall Thompson, star involving the then top-rated Ivan Tors TELEVISION production, “Daktari, very well an African journey show. With very much of it shot in Thousand Oak trees, northeast of La, Marshall invited me personally to bring the family to go to the particular set.

1 day, all of us drove as much as notice an afternoon’s recording in a faux-jungle setting. The script called for the menacing black leopard – but 1 had not been available. Many of us watched in awe if the director called for a cougar, which the folks proceeded to spray-paint black.

A few years later, a new CBS-TV producer requested my eight-year-old boy, Gary, to appear in a non-speaking scene with David Janssen, during a TV-movie, “Night Chase, very well being filmed found in our zoo. Whilst gary later admitted it was an entertaining experience but experienced cured him associated with any latent desire to act. However had to procrastinate for six hrs to do a good one-minute scene inside the kiddie tierpark with the star. And further disillusioned when his thirty-five dollars CBS check arrived.

Janssen, star associated with “The Fugitive” tv show, had fixed the hearts associated with many of our female staffers atwitter while in the zoo. Upon leaving the area 1 day, he impulsively stopped to give a kiss in an admiring product sales girl’s cheek. Terribly shaken, she questioned to be forgiven to go house for the remainder regarding the day.

Wild-life buffs Gloria in addition to Jimmy Stewart made an appearance with a special zoologischer garten (fachsprachlich) dinner one night time. Afterward, they informed me that Gregory Peck’s half-brother when drove one among our own zoo tour busses during a summer season in college. Consequently , when a zoo inhabitant called a Peccary, (a swine-like animal from Mexico and South America), gave birth, we had our tour guides point out the little porker seeing that our new star, “Gregory Peck-ary. inch

Nearby, another former star resided found in our elephant show. Visitors on completing busses were well informed that a little Asian with long, Hollywood eyelashes had been “Hatari, ” dispatched to the zoologischer garten (fachsprachlich) after appearing along with John Wayne within the movie of typically the same name.

Our official zoo greeter since 1951, “King Tut, ” also had stage and screen credits My partner and i had been shocked to find out that the salmon-crested cockatoo, who whistled and danced for visitors through his special positioned at the entry plaza, once made an appearance at a planet’s fair in San Diego with the clean cut fan dancer, Sally Rand (as your ex zipper puller).

The regal-looking Tut got been brought from Singapore by known animal trader Open “Brink-’em-Back-Alive Buck. inch The people-loving chicken was named following King Tutankhamen, in whose spectacular discovery happened just one or two years before Buck brought the cockatoo to San Diego. I usually liked the bird’s raucous greeting after i would likely enter the tiergarten mornings. Tut on occasion would meow just like a cat, cluck such as a chicken or play snatches of safari.

Hollywood’s biggest pet star, “Lassie, ” came to the zoo one planting season to evaluate the reaction of our popular performing seals prior to an up-coming motion picture scene. The story of how she “attacked” me on stage at our Seal off Bowl is in depth in my publication of zoo memoirs.

Looking back, I would have to state my favorite human being celebrity to visit the zoo throughout my tour seemed to be Jane Goodall, typically the British scientist that studied living regarding chimps in the Gombe Stream Game Reserve in Tanzania, The african continent. I had the favorable fortune to complete and escort this particular most-dedicated young lady during the zoo’s 50th anniversary special event.

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