I got my first job when I was eleven working for our family vet, Dr. Roberts, in Knoxville, Tennessee. I loved cleaning cages and just being around all the animals. I continued working for Dr. Roberts for several summers and developed my love and respect for animals.
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After spending a few years at Kiski, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, I attended Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. I met my wife, Suzi Egli while we were at Muskingum College and we were married in 1968.
Soon after Suzi and I were married, we opened a pet shop, Pet Kingdom, in Knoxville. I loved working at the pet shop but I knew that I always wanted to work at a zoo, so when I received an offer to direct a small zoo in Sanford, Florida in 1973, I jumped at the opportunity. Suzi and I lived in Florida while I worked at the Central Florida Zoo from 1973 until 1975. In 1975, I had to take a break from the animal world because of an illness in my family. In 1978, I decided I missed working with animals and I answered an ad for a zoo director in Columbus, Ohio.
I was the Executive Director of the Columbus Zoo from 1978 until 1992. When I first started at the Columbus Zoo, attendance was low and the animal habitats were outdated. My top priority was to increase attendance by offering educational and entertaining events. As a result of these programs, more and more people started visiting the zoo. Over the years, I was fortunate to meet many leaders in the community. They helped me raise money to transform the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium into the state-of-the-art park that it is today.
In 1983 I was invited to appear on Good Morning America in New York. I eagerly agreed to appear knowing that this was a great opportunity to educate people across the nation about animals. I have been a regular guest and wildlife correspondent ever since.
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