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Los Angeles

Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Zoo Commission Karen B. Winnick, President Bernardo Silva, Vice President Margot Armbruster, Christopher Hopkins, Tyler Kelley Richard Lichtenstein, Ex-Officio Member

Los Angeles Zoo Administration John R. Lewis, Zoo Director Denise M. Verret, Deputy Director Beth Schaefer, General Curator Lisa Naples, D.V.M., Chief Veterinarian Mei Kwan, Director of Administration and Operations Tom LoVullo, Construction and Maintenance Supervisor Kirsten Perez, Director of Education Darryl Pon, Planning and Development Division Denise Tamura, Executive Assistant

GLAZA Officers Richard Corgel, Chair Nick Franklin, Lori Winters Samuels, Laura Z. Wasserman, Vice Chairs Phyllis Kupferstein, Secretary James K. Bray, Treasurer Connie M. Morgan, President

GLAZA Trustees Peter Arkley, Charles X Block, Michael Bustamante, Tracy Cohen, Brian Diamond, Robert J. East, Gregory D. Fuss, Paulette Heath, Cassidy Horn, David V. Hunt, Diann H. Kim, Anthony Kitchener, Richard Lichtenstein, Betty White Ludden, Beth Price, Patricia Silver, Slash, Jay Sonbolian, Erika Aronson Stern, Madeline Joyce Taft, Dana Walden, Jennifer Thornton Wieland, Angela Yim-Sullivan

Trustees Emeriti Willard Z. Carr, Jr., Richard Corgel, Ed N. Harrison, Mrs. Max K. Jamison, Lloyd Levitin, Mrs. John F. Maher, William G. McGagh, Dickinson C. Ross, Shelby Kaplan Sloan, Thomas R. Tellefsen, Polly Turpin

GLAZA Administration Eugenia Vasels, Vice President, Institutional Advancement Hugh J. Miller, Vice President, Chief Financial Officer Kait Hilliard, Vice President, Marketing Lisa Correa, Director of Membership Dawn Petersen-Amend, General Counsel Sara Rodriguez, Director of Special Events Pete Williams, Director of Information Technology ZOO VIEW (ISSN 0276-3303) is published quarterly by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Periodical Postage paid at Los Angeles, CA. GREATER LOS ANGELES ZOO ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEMBERSHIPS: Individual $55, Individual Plus $80, Family $140, Family Deluxe $180, Contributor $300, Wildlife Circle $500, Conservation Circle $1,000, Safari Society $1,500. Each membership category includes unlimited admission to the Los Angeles Zoo, a one-year subscription to ZOO VIEW, and invitations to special events. For more information, call (323) 644-4200 or log on to Copyright Š 2017 Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents of this publication without written permission is prohibited. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ZOO VIEW, 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027-1498.




The Call of the Wild Recycling your old cell phone is one of the simplest steps you can take to help gorillas and other endangered species.


Sponsor Spotlight Los Angeles Federal Credit Union shares the Zoo’s goal of educating young people about the importance of saving resources.

2 Inside Front Cover A pair of peninsular pronghorn fawns was born at the Zoo in April. Photo by Jamie Pham


Meet the Curators Get to know the Zoo’s top animal care professionals.


Creature Teachers

17 Front Cover A direct link exists between the proliferation of cell phones in the U.S. and the drastic decline of African apes. Photo by Jamie Pham

The exotic animal training program at Moorpark College trains the keepers of tomorrow.


Membership Matters Important updates for GLAZA members.

Editor Brenda Posada Associate Editor Sandy Masuo Editorial Committee Kait Hilliard, John Lewis, Connie Morgan, Kirsten Perez, Beth Schaefer, Eugenia Vasels, Denise M. Verret Zoo Photographer Tad Motoyama Photo Editor & Photographer Jamie Pham


esign and Production Norman Abbey, Pacific Design Consultants


Donor Profile In addition to 30 years of devoted service, GLAZA Docent Carlton Dudley enriched the Zoo with an unexpected bequest.

12 Back Cover Okapi are among the species threatened by illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo by Tad Motoyama

Printing ColorGraphics Proofreader Lynne Richter


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With mining for cell phone components driving gorillas to the brink of extinction, the species’ survival may literally lie in the palm of your hands.

Recycle a cell phone—help save a gorilla’s life. Sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true. Recapturing the precious minerals locked inside the 500 million dead or dormant phones estimated to exist in the U.S. alone would drastically reduce the need for mining in the Congo, where the activity has wreaked havoc on gorillas and other animals that share their embattled habitat. When cell phones are tossed in the trash, the problem is compounded—and the effects hit closer to home. Electronic devices in landfills leach arsenic and other toxins into ground water, causing human health consequences on top of environmental damage. Diverting these devices from landfills also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which most scientists believe are driving global climate change. W We all know we should recycle, but we don’t always connect the dots from understanding to action. While moving recently I found five outdated cell phones gathering COURTESY OF ECO-CELL


F Americans dispose of more than 152 million mobile phones each year according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the afterglow of new-gadget acquisition, little thought is typically given to the fate of cast-off devices.



E Alafia and the Los Angeles Zoo’s other gorilla residents serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, inspiring compassion and conservation action.






dust in the family garage, along with countless cables, chargers, and gadgets of unknown origin. I hadn’t gotten around to recycling them—even though I’d helped share the Zoo’s call to action in the pages of this magazine. I understood the importance but not the urgency of the situation. I didn’t realize that Grauer’s gorillas—a subspecies severely impacted by the consumer electronics explosion—have suffered a 77 percent population decline in just the last two decades. I knew that funds raised by cell-phone recycling benefit endangered animals, but was surprised to discover that Eco-Cell, the Zoo’s partner in these efforts, also donates refurbished phones directly to field conservation projects. At the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE), such phones have been used to speed diagnosis of sick gorillas. So, yes, that old phone languishing in your desk drawer or garage (or mine) could literally save lives. Of course, we can’t roll back the clock on the technological revolution— even if we wanted to. “We’re not going to stop using cell phones,” says Beth Schaefer, general curator of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. “It’s just not going to happen. But there are actions we can take to lessen their impact.” Making the leap from understanding to action is easier if you understand the problems and processes involved. Let’s take a closer look.


The Three Ts antalum, derived from columbite-tantalite (also known as“coltan”), is a critical component in cell phones. “Tantalum coats the capacitors and allows for the miniaturization of cell phones, to make them nice and thin and small and useful,” explains Eco-Cell president Eric Ronay. “It holds an electrical charge better than any other material. So it’s very valuable to a cell phone.” The majority of the world’s supply of coltan—up to 80 percent—is found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo


Grauer’s gorillas— a subspecies severely impacted by the consumer electronics explosion—have suffered a 77 percent population decline in just the last two decades.

(DRC). Since the early 1990s, skyrocketing demand for tantalum has led to a “coltan rush” that has created a conservation crisis, crippled the country’s agricultural industry, and contributed to civil war. While their distribution is more wide spread, tungsten (used to make cell phones vibrate) and tin (used to create solder for circuit boards) are also mined in the DRC. These are the “three Ts” which, along with gold, are generally what is meant by the term conflict minerals. Like conflict diamonds (aka blood diamonds), the term refers to raw materials originating from an area of civil war or unrest and sold to finance the violence. The concentrated presence of these minerals in the DRC has led to uncontrolled mining in this highly biodiverse, ecologically sensitive region. “They destroy the habitat getting in there,” says Ronay. “If you see pictures of these mining operations, it looks like a moonscape after they get finished with it.” Mining is poorly regulated in this part of the world, and many operations are run by ruthless militias. In addition to the environmental devastation, these militias are responsible for horrific human rights abuses against civilians.

G Miners pan for coltan using shovels, picks, and their bare hands—a primitive process associated with massive human rights violations and environmental degradation.

Most Congolese mines are small, “artisanal” operations—a far cry from the industrialized mines we’re familiar with in the United States. Artisanal mining uses little technology or machinery. To extract coltan, laborers dig craters into stream beds by hand, a grueling and dangerous activity that is often performed by young children. (Amnesty International reports that as many as 40,000 children are working in mines in the DRC.) Then there’s the poaching. “Each mine, whether legally operated or not, involves a set-up in the forest that requires not only destruction of the land to unearth the minerals, but numerous people to operate the mining sites,” says Dr. Tara Stoinski, president and chief scientist of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. “To feed these people, wildlife is hunted from the surrounding


H Tantalum, extracted from columbite-tantalite (also known as coltan), is used to store electricity in cell phones.


H A subspecies of eastern gorilla, the Grauer’s gorilla is found only in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


E Western lowland gorillas (like the L.A. Zoo’s silverback, Kelly, right) are critically endangered, but they are more numerous than Grauer’s gorillas.







H In the Eco-Cell warehouse, phones, accessories, and batteries are sorted into separate bins.

G Eco-Cell president Eric Ronay shares his company’s environmental message at a zoo conference.

forests. This includes gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants, and many other species.” Trade in “bushmeat” (exotic animals killed for human consumption) is illegal, but in this war-torn region, such laws are virtually unenforceable.

A Valuable Lesson Since the average consumer is unfamiliar with the three Ts, to get his message across—especially to younger audiences—Ronay often points to the presence in cell phones of a betterknown commodity: gold. “I visit zoo camps every summer,” he says. “When you start talking to kids about the magical properties of tantalum, their eyes kind of glaze over. It’s an abstraction to them; they don’t quite get it. But when you tell them there’s gold in cell phones, and it can be reclaimed, it’s like a lightbulb goes off.” At this point in his presentation, Ronay will often break open a cell phone to show his audience where the gold is located. “Their eyes light up and they go crazy,” he says wryly. “It’s not the approach that I would personally like to take, but it gets their attention. And then I’ll tell them, ‘And by the way, there’s a whole troop of


gorillas down the way; go take a look at them.’” Their curiosity piqued by gold’s allure, the campers are more receptive to the environmental message. It’s Ronay’s way of connecting the dots from under­standing to action. (Kids: Before you entertain ideas about smashing your phones to get at the gold, it’s worth noting that the amount inside each phone is tiny—it takes about 41 mobile phones to yield one gram!)

Zoo Roots Zoos are among the largest contributors to Eco-Cell’s recycling efforts. In fact, the Kentucky-based firm traces its roots to the local zoo. “We’ve been lifelong members of the Louisville Zoo, and friends with Bill Foster, who was the executive director. He told us about the connection between gorillas and what goes into cell phones.” That was back in 2003, around the time the Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest exhibit opened. “It was the Wild West of electronics,” Ronay says. “Manufacturers were pumping these things out into the consumer populace without any consideration of what happened after that.”

Compassion for the conservation crisis got the family’s attention, but profit potential spurred their initial action. “My dad is an entrepreneur, and he picked up on a business idea. ‘Hey, we love gorillas, and we want to make some money, so why don’t we connect the two,’” Ronay explains. “Bring awareness to the problem and give people something they can do to actively contribute to the conservation of the species.” Bill Ronay worked with Foster to install a cell phone collection box at the Louisville Zoo, and Eco-Cell was born. “Lo and behold, it just kind of exploded,” his son recalls. More and more zoos got involved (a total of 110 at the program’s zenith). “Next thing you know, we’re moving from building to building trying to accommodate the volume of cell phones that were coming in to us.” Eric Ronay helped grow the business and took over the reins in 2006, when his father’s entrepreneurial spirit led him in a different direction. An avid animal lover, Ronay’s passion for the cause has helped him weather dramatic changes in the industry. “At one point, we were recycling 70,000 cell phones a year. That’s all changed now. Once the smartphone came on the scene, the wireless companies began to care about what happened to them downstream. Because they’re little computers—and they cost so much to manufacture—the companies had to devise a way to get them back.” With an increasing number of firms offering trade-in incentives, or leasing rather than selling their smartphones to customers, the quantity (and quality) of donations to Eco-Cell have sharply declined. “It’s one of those instances where economics is helping solve the problem,” says Ronay. “Not for the right reasons, but simply for financial gain. I can respect that. But obviously, as someone who supports conservation, I was hoping for more.” He’d hoped that one of the major manufacturers would take the lead in shifting the industry toward more environmentally responsible practices, such as embracing the concept of “gorilla-safe phones.” Since tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold are not “visible” components of cell phones, it’s virtually impossible for consumers to know where they came from. Much like the Z OO V IEW


student volunteers will expand upon his efforts. “This was a first step. I wanted the student volunteers to experience how they, in a small way, can make a big impact on the environment.”

First Steps To guard your privacy and protect against identity theft, it is important to take a few steps before surrendering your phone. First, remove all your personal data—including photos, emails, texts, and contacts—from the device. The process varies depending on the brand and model but generally takes just a few seconds. Google “how to wipe

H Student Volunteer President Imanelijah Zeinali (far right) with Mia Morilla, Avery Arroyo, Andrew West, and Diego Osornio.


he L.A. Zoo’s cell phone recycling program was spearheaded by the L.A. chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK/LA). Senior Animal Keeper Jim Haigwood, then president of AAZK/LA, says of his decision to get involved: “We have to give the public opportunities to participate in conservation. We can’t just tell them about the things that are going on around the planet; we have to give them outlets to have a positive role in changing things.” An Eco-Cell collection box was installed at the front of the Zoo in 2009, and phones started trickling in. When packing for a day at the Zoo, usually the last thing on people’s minds is to bring along their old electronics, Haigwood says, noting the need for increased awareness of the program.

F Before recycling your cell phone, be sure to wipe off your data and disconnect the service.

courtesy of eco-cell

T At Our Zoo

Spreading the word through various communication channels and on-site events has helped. Haigwood notes that the Zoo’s annual environmental festival, Wild for the Planet, generates a significant spike in donations. “I always get excited about Wild for the Planet because I know we’re going to get more material to recycle.” To Haigwood’s delight, this year’s haul included iPads and other tablet devices. “We never received a tablet before, and last month we got four or five of them, so that was great.” Another boost came from the Zoo’s student volunteers. Eighteen-year-old Imanelijah Zeinali, the program’s president, launched a cell-phone collecting competition to motivate his peers. “Millennials can really make a difference in this program, because we’re the ones with all the cell phones,” he jokes. In a short time, by reaching out to friends, families, schools, and communities, the students amassed more than 150 phones. The group that brought in the most devices earned a special behind-thescenes animal encounter as reward for their efforts. Though he didn’t hit his goal of 1,000 phones, Zeinali hopes next year’s crop of


“dolphin-safe” designation on many tuna brands makes it easy for consumers to make informed decisions, phones would be certified “gorilla-safe” if they contained only legally obtained, responsibly sourced materials.

F Donating your cell phone at the L.A. Zoo generates funding for gorilla conservation in the wild.


H GRACE Center Director Jackson Mbeke


E L.A. Zoo student volunteers staged this tribute to GRACE with cell phones collected during a recent campaign.

a cell phone” plus your device type for instructions, or visit www.wikihow. com/Delete-Cell-Phone-Memory for more information. What if you can’t even power up the phone? Even if I could have found their long-lost accessories, the ancient flip phones I recently unearthed in my garage were well past the point of being able to hold a charge. The main reason we’d kept them for so long— aside from not wanting them to end up in a landfill—was fear of someone somewhere someday managing to access whatever personal information might be locked inside their decaying electronic brains. Ronay put my fears at ease. “With a smartphone, there’s tons of data on those things, and you really should wipe that data off. But for really old phones, where literally all you have in there are phone numbers, there’s not much of a risk.” Still, if you’re worried about your old contacts getting into the wrong hands, he offers a stress-relieving solution: “Destroy the phone first, and then send it in. We don’t care. It’s going to get ground up into a million pieces anyway.” Once the memory is clear (or the phone destroyed), remove the SIM card, make sure the service is turned off, and drop it off at the Zoo.

Road to Recovery What happens to your cell phone after



G At GRACE, orphaned gorillas learn the skills they need for possible reintroduction to the wild.

you donate it? Once Haigwood has accumulated enough devices to fill a shipping box, he contacts Eco-Cell to request a prepaid shipping label. “Then UPS comes to the Zoo and picks up the packages,” says Ronay. “They arrive at our little warehouse room, and we go through everything with a fine-toothed comb.” Eco-Cell staff sorts donations, quickly determining which items will be refurbished and resold and which will be recycled. (In a humorous aside, Ronay lists some of the oddest items the company has received from goodhearted people who misunderstand the scope of what is included under the umbrella of electronics—including beard trimmers, bunion scrapers, a vast array of remote controls, and even a crockpot!) Considering the amount of energy and resources that go into creating a new phone, it’s far better, environmentally speaking, to extend the life of an old one. But that’s not always possible. Ronay estimates that nine out of ten phones that come in to Eco-Cell are destined for the recycle bin. “We try to reuse as much as possible, but at some point the market for old cell phones is limited. We’ve been doing this so long, we know which ones we can resell. And we know which ones are absolutely on their last legs.” After being relieved of their batteries (which are processed separately), endof-life devices are sent to a certified elec-

G Refurbished phones donated by Eco-Cell help GRACE staff communicate from the field and speed diagnoses of sick gorillas.

tronics recycler, where they are dismantled and crushed. The resulting fine powder goes to a smelting company. The minerals extracted in the smelting process are recast and sold by the pound on the gold market. Eco-Cell is a “no landfill” program and works only with facilities that are certified under R2 / BAN or ISO 14000 standards (more information about these recycling certifications can be found on the Eco-Cell website at Most of Eco-Cell’s e-waste recycling is handled by Umicore, a Belgian-based firm dedicated to clean technologies and sustainability. They go beyond the three Ts, recovering more than 20 elements (“from Ag to Zn”) in their global operation. Copper can be extracted from A/C adapters, earbuds, cables, and other accessories, and lithium ion batteries are recycled for their nickel.

Money and More In addition to reducing demand for mining in the Congo, there are other ways recycling your phone can benefit gorillas. All funds raised by the Zoo from the program are directed to gorilla conservation projects. “For every cell phone we recycle or sell, we pass money back to the zoo that sent it in,” Ronay says. Thanks to the collective collecting power of Eco-Cell’s partner zoos, the firm has so far given more than a half million dollars to wildlife conservation. Your donated phone could even end Z OO V IEW


Beth Schaefer, General Curator

up in the hands of someone working to help and heal orphaned gorillas in Africa. GRACE is a rehabilitation center for displaced gorillas (usually youngsters whose mothers were killed by poachers). Dr. Sonya Kahlenberg, executive director of GRACE, tells Zoo View, “EcoCell has been a GRACE supporter since 2012 and has contributed funds as well as dozens of refurbished smart phones. These phones have significantly improved our ability to care for orphaned gorillas and operate in our remote part of the eastern DRC. Cell and Internet communication is generally unreliable in our region, but we are able to get a strong signal with these phones.” Donated phones also directly help GRACE staff with veterinary care, Kahlenberg explains. “We recently added an iPhone mount to our microscope to capture images for our veterinary advisors in U.S. zoos, who help diagnose any issues we find and recommend treatment.” In her role as co-chair of GRACE’s Animal Care and Welfare Advisory Group, the Zoo’s General Curator Beth Schaefer has been on the receiving end of such SOS calls. “It’s like 3 a.m. and my phone rings, and it’s someone at GRACE, saying, ‘Hey, we have this gorilla situation,’” she says. “It’s really gratifying to know that we can help them at the drop of a hat, and they feel like they’re not alone in their efforts— even in these super remote areas they can just pick up the phone and call.” Z OO V IEW


Schaefer has seen firsthand how the actions of a single person can help a species half a world away—a message she wants to share with readers. “Your actions are absolutely making a difference. It’s not abstract. It’s not, ‘Oh, I gave five dollars and who knows where that goes.’ When I go over to GRACE, the staff are using phones that came from Eco-Cell. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” Hearing about how these phones aid GRACE’s conservation and rehabilitation efforts “makes the hairs on my arms stand up,” says Ronay. When the donated devices succumb to heavy use and the harsh Congo environment, he sends replacements. “GRACE is the absolute pinnacle of how we want our program done. I’m so happy to be a part of it, in my tiny little way.”


Reduce Your Use According to National Geographic, American consumers upgrade their cell phones every 14 months on average— down from 18 months just a few years ago. The trend isn’t helped by “planned obsolescence”—a strategy employed by manufacturers to compel users to upgrade by frequently changing design, making new accessories incompatible with older models, or otherwise discontinuing support. In addition to re-

From D.C. to the DRC

onnecting the dots between gorillas and cell phones involves a stop in Washington, D.C., where conservation efforts may suffer a major setback if the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rolls back protections enacted under the DoddFrank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act. Signed into law by President Obama in 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act introduced a slew of regulations to the American financial system. Under Section 1502 of the Act, the SEC was directed to require that electronics companies disclose the sources of tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold used in their products. The goal of the measure was to end the use of “conflict minerals” in the U.S. supply chain—and thereby stop our insatiable love of gadgets from funding civil war. President Trump has pledged to “dismantle” Dodd-Frank, and Section 1502 will be among the likely victims if the SEC acts on his administration’s recommendations. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is urging consumers to speak out in support of the Conflict Minerals Rule and demand that manufacturers source minerals through legal and transparent supply chains. You can sign the WCS pledge online at get-involved/conflict-minerals-pledge.


“Your actions are absolutely making a difference. It’s not abstract...When I go over to GRACE, the staff are using phones that came from Eco-Cell.”

G Show your love for gorillas by delaying your next cell phone upgrade.

cycling our cast-off devices, slowing down consumption would make a big difference. “People think we live in a disposable society, but we really don’t,” says Haigwood. “All the materials that go into making the things we utilize come from somewhere—and ultimately, it’s from nature.” “Using devices longer than the electronics company intends you to would reduce pressure on parts of Africa,” adds Ronay. “Our consumers here in the United States have to change, because this is where the pressure is coming from. We need to buy less stuff, and hang on to what we do buy longer. I don’t know where we got away from that as a culture.” Kahlenberg puts it simply: “The next time you think you need the latest phone upgrade, ask yourself, ‘Is a gorilla’s life worth it?’” j


How to Recycle a Cell Phone & Help Save a Gorilla’s Life What We Accept: Cell phones, smartphones, MP3 players, iPods, iPads and other tablets, and all the chargers that come with these devices. (Shipping laptop computers is too cost prohibitive; please find a local alternative to recycle these and other large electronics.) Drop-Off Location: On your next visit to the Zoo, deposit your devices in the green mailbox-style container at the base of the stairs in the front entry plaza. (If you want to drop off phones without entering the Zoo, you can leave them at the Membership Booth.) Outside the L.A. area? Check with your local zoo to see if it has a collection box on site. If not, visit to find out how you can send phones directly to our recycling partner. Don’t Forget: Before turning over devices, make sure to delete photos, contacts, and other personal data (or destroy the phone), and deactivate the service. Sign the Pledge: Sign the Wildlife Conservation Society’s pledge calling for legal and transparent sourcing of minerals used in cell phone manufacturing: Spread the Word: Reach out to friends, family, colleagues, and classmates. Urge them to hand over the dead or dormant devices they’ve squirrelled away in their garages or desk drawers.



cut along this line

Share your pics! We’d love to see photos of our guests dropping off their cell phones for recycling at the Zoo. Tag us on social media, and we may feature your photo in an upcoming issue of Zoo View and/or on the Zoo’s website or social media. Twitter: @LAZoo | Instagram: @thelosangeleszoo | Facebook: @LosAngelesZoo




F LAFCU funds education programs and enlivens special events at the Zoo.

Los Angeles Federal Credit Union:

Invested Future in the




to all Southern California residents, we want to be a good neighbor. With a branch located just minutes from the Zoo and branches across L.A. County in neighborhoods where Zoo visitors live and work, we are committed to giving back to our community and deeply invested in the future of young people growing up in the region.” LAFCU and its staff demonstrate their commitment to these values by supporting the community and youth at many events, including at the Zoo. Through their nonprofit arm, the Los Angeles Charitable Association, they have committed over $15,000 in support of Zoo Camp scholarships for underserved youth in our community. These scholarships have enabled dozens of young people who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience a week of fun and handson learning in an inspiring natural environment. Throughout the year, the LAFCU team helps bring many of the Zoo’s special events to life. A favorite is the Halloweenthemed Boo at the L.A. Zoo. Through activities, games, and storytelling, LAFCU representatives enhance the “Boo” experience for visitors of all ages while also communicating the themes important to both organizations. GLAZA is deeply grateful for all LAFCU does to support its work and to amplify the Zoo’s messages to the next generation of “conservationists.” j

For more information about partnering with the Los Angeles Zoo and supporting its education programs, please contact Brian Levitz at or 323/644-4705, or Jan Frazier at or 323/644-4722. More information about LAFCU is available at



isitors to the Los Angeles Zoo encounter a variety of animal species as they make their way through the grounds. Those who take a moment to read the interpretive signage learn about how the Zoo works to create a brighter future for wildlife, both at our Zoo and in the wild. Much of the language is focused on reaching young people with important messages about conservation and saving habitats to build a healthy tomorrow. In 2015, representatives from the Los Angeles Federal Credit Union (LAFCU) reached out to see how they could best serve the community by participating with the L.A. Zoo. As the conversation unfolded, it became apparent that the Zoo and LAFCU share strikingly similar values. Both are committed to educating young people about the simple actions they can take today in order to ensure a successful future. Both recognize the virtues of saving resources and enjoying the many benefits that can be realized by conserving. Perhaps most importantly, both are dedicated to enhancing the lives of each new generation of residents in the greater Los Angeles area. LAFCU demonstrates its commitment to these shared values as both a sponsor of the Zoo and as a donor to its educational programs. “Our partnership with the Zoo is a natural fit,” says LAFCU President/CEO John Dea. “As a local not-for-profit credit union open


When you hear the word “curator,” you probably think of a museum,


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Beth Schaefer General Curator Beth Schaefer’s career path led her to Missouri, Florida, and Texas, but her roots are here in Southern California—she grew up in Manhattan Beach and earned her undergraduate degree from California Polytechnic State University–San Luis Obispo. Like many animal keepers, she originally planned to pursue veterinary medicine, but ultimately found herself drawn to the zoo world. “I always loved animals and thought the way to become a veterinarian was by studying Animal Science,” she explains. When she got to college, she found that Animal Science—which is often more geared toward farm animals—was not what she expected. “My family is not an ‘animal family’—my mother is terrified of zoos—so I would read books about kids in 4-H, and I truly believed that 4-H was fictional because who could have a cow or a pig in their backyard? Fast forward to college. Cal Poly hosts the national 4-H convention every year, so imagine my shock when hundreds of 4-H kids invaded campus, and I found out it’s for real!” After changing majors and completing a degree in microbiology, Schaefer found work as a veterinary assistant, then moved to exotic animal care as a keeper aide at the tiny three-acre Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, California. From there she went on to posts at the Kansas City Zoo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the Center for Great Apes in Florida, eventually landing a curatorial position at Houston Zoo in 2007. When Schaefer took over the general curator post at the L.A. Zoo in December 2014, it was a welcome return to California for her and a chance to


Curators set up shop with an almost entirely new curatorial team—just as a new phase of the Master Plan for Zoo improvements was being developed. “When the previous group of curators started their careers, they weren’t planning their retirement dates to coincide with the master plan process,” she observes. “It just happened—like serendipity. It’s all falling into place in this really cool way. You can’t plan those things. There’s an element of fate. “I am so happy with this team,” she

continues. “They’ve got great energy, and I think this is an amazing opportunity to look at the future and where we want to go. Conservation is so much more than breeding animals behind the scenes. As important as that is, we have to also showcase all the great conservation work that we do. We’re looking at how we can make our mission more accessible to our guests so that we can we be a fantastic resource and learning opportunity for our community—the citizens of Los Angeles.”

E Becoming L.A. Zoo’s general curator meant a homecoming for SoCal native Beth Schaefer.

E Schaefer and friend at the completion of volunteer training at the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, California.

E E Future herpetologist Ian Recchio at four years of age with a horned lizard at Big Bear, California.





jamie pham


but curators are an important part of animal care staff at accredited zoos. Museums and zoos share the important goals of conservation and education—museums house art, artifacts, and antiquities while zoos are home to living creatures. The Los Angeles Zoo’s animal collections and their caretakers are overseen by a team of six—a general curator, four curators dedicated to specific groups of animals, and a research director.




E The curatorial crew: Josh Sisk, Candace Sclimenti, Mike Maxcy, Beth Schaefer, Cathleen Cox, and Ian Recchio

Ian Recchio Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians Ian Recchio, the longest standing member of the curatorial staff, was born and raised in Southern California, and his interest in the rich variety of herpetofauna of the region was cultivated from an early age. “My father was a serious amateur herpetologist,” he explains. “Our family vacations consisted of jumping in the Jeep and driving to the desert to explore. The first book I read cover to cover was Carl Kauffeld’s Snakes: The Keeper and the Kept. I was hooked on snakes!” When he was in high school, Recchio was able to augment those herping vacations by volunteering at the nearby Los Angeles Zoo. After graduating, he considered a degree in biology, but instead earned an associate’s degree in design from L.A. Valley College.

Recchio has the distinction of having made his mark on the Zoo in a very literal way—he painted most of the murals in the old reptile house as well as the backdrops in the Island fox and Komodo dragon exhibits. An accomplished photographer, his work is a staple in Zoo publications. Recchio was hired as a part-time reptile keeper in 1993 and has been part of the herpetology section of the Zoo ever since. In 2008, he was promoted to curator, and in that role has made an even greater impact on the Zoo’s reptile and amphibian collection. An important part of Recchio’s Zoo career has involved field research in Mexico and Indonesia, and he values the many opportunities he’s had to observe the species he works with in the wild.




F Recchio with one of the Zoo’s butaans (Gray’s monitors).


Since becoming a curator, Recchio and his staff have produced 13 papers that have been published in professional journals, documenting many of their significant discoveries about reptile biology and husbandry. The opening of the LAIR in 2012 meant sharing his interests and commitment to conservation to an even greater degree. “It’s exciting knowing we provide thousands of people the opportunity to view creatures so rare and unusual that most would otherwise never have the possibility of seeing in person.” Recchio also represents the L.A. Zoo as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Serpent Advisory Group steering committee and the Komodo Dragon Species Survival Plan steering committee. He serves as the AZA West Coast representative for Poison Controls Antivenom Index.

H Sclimenti completed field research in Zambia for her master’s degree in primatology.

Even the best-laid plans can go astray, and sometimes that’s a good thing. When Mike Maxcy was a student at Mount San Antonio College, his goal was to eventually transfer to Humboldt State University and then become a biologist. But a friend told him about the animal keeper class that the Los Angeles Zoo offers every two years, and that set him off on a different path. “I said, ‘Well let’s take it!’ So we took it, and I loved it.” After completing the course, Maxcy started volunteering at the L.A. Zoo and was hired as a part-time animal keeper at



Mike Maxcy



F H Curator of Birds Mike Maxcy has been a falconer since he was 16 years old; Maxcy with his first American kestrel.

H Curator of Mammals Candace Sclimenti served as a mentor for the 2014 Duttenhaver Animal Conservation Field Study expedition to South Africa.

The Los Angeles Zoo’s animal care staff

with her organization and was a founding member of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI)’s Los Angeles Base Camp. I also became involved with the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. I was hired full-time at the Zoo in 1998, became a senior keeper in 2008, and worked my way up.” Sclimenti holds a master’s degree in primatology from California State University, Fullerton. Her field research in Zambia, Africa, examined how ecological/environmental factors impact the socialization of infant and juvenile chimpanzees. Currently, Sclimenti serves on the AZA’s Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan steering committee and moderates the ChimpChat listserv. She has worked with JGI for more than 15 years, including serving on the advisory board for JGI’s Roots & Shoots California. Sclimenti continues as a primatology adviser to other facilities

both in the U.S. and in Africa, including her current consulting work with the Ndogo Chimpanzee Sanctuary project in Gabon. Last year, she accepted a promotion to curator of mammals and now oversees primates and carnivores. “The Los Angeles Zoo is a special place, and it’s a true honor to serve this community as a curator. I value the animals and people and am grateful that each day I have the joy of coming to work here.”

Josh Sisk Josh Sisk was born and raised on a farm just outside Kansas City, Missouri, and from a young age was involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). “On my ninth or tenth birthday, I went to a hatchery and spent all my birthday money on bantams, these fancy miniature chickens,” he recalls. “So, when all the

F One of Josh Sisk’s early learning experiences with exotic mammals was caring for a pair of kinkajous. COURTESY OF JOSH SISK

the Santa Ana Zoo. Later he was offered a part-time job at the L.A. Zoo, starting out in the commissary before transferring to the hillside exhibits. As an experienced falconer, Maxcy’s first full-time position at the Zoo could not have been more apropos. “There was an opening at condors, and I was lucky enough to become a condor keeper,” he comments. “That’s an overwhelming job. You’re not just taking care of the birds— which is a lot of work in itself—you’re taking care of critically endangered birds.” After about five years, Maxcy became the supervisor over condors and the World of Birds Show. He was later promoted to principal animal keeper and became a curator in 2014. After serving as curator for the condor program and the bird show, in 2016 he officially become curator of birds. “It has been a dream of mine to be the curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo for a long time,” he says. “To finally have that dream come true is amazing. There is a tremendous feeling of pride—and some trepidation as I now focus on creating a collection of birds that I hope will inspire my staff, educate the public, and, most importantly, contribute to the global conservation of a class of animal that truly epitomizes the beauty and pageantry of our wild planet.”

H In 2006, Josh Sisk took part in Grevy’s zebra fieldwork in Kenya that was hosted by the Earthwatch Institute.

includes two mammal curators. Both Josh Sisk and Candace Sclimenti have deep roots at the Zoo, and though their paths diverged for some time, both led to the curatorial office.

Sclimenti first discovered a passion for animal keeping as a volunteer at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. She cultivated her interest there for two years before returning to her native Los Angeles with her husband. Volunteering at the L.A. Zoo led to a paying job, and she made the most of the opportunity. “I was hired for a part-time position with chimpanzees, so I read everything I could and looked up local primatologists. I eventually began working with Craig Stanford at the University of Southern California. I asked him if I could sit in on some of his classes, and he ended up mentoring me for three years. Then I met Jane Goodall and started volunteering




Candace Sclimenti




F Dr. Cathleen Cox observing and recording data at the Elephants of Asia exhibit.

F Cox (fourth figure from left) surfing at Dana Point in Sep­­tember 1966.

other kids were playing sports, I was the kid that had to get home and take care of my farm. When I was probably 14, I worked for a private exotic animal facility there. Between my farm and working at this facility with everything from primates to hoofstock, I got a very early start in animal care.” Then there was a short detour. Sisk moved to California when he was 21 to pursue an acting career. He appeared in some daytime dramas and worked as an extra, but then an experience taking care of a private animal collection reignited his interest in animals. He became an animal care volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo. His first job as a part-time keeper involved looking after the stars of Reindeer Romp. He was subsequently offered a full-time keeper position and worked at the Zoo for eight years before accepting a post as curator of special animal exhibits at New York’s Bronx Zoo in 2010. In 2015, he became the general curator at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana. He returned to Los Angeles in September 2016 as a curator of mammals— bringing his L.A. Zoo experience full circle. As one of two mammal curators,


he oversees the aquatics, Australia, and hoofstock sections of the Zoo, including elephants and giraffes—the animals he worked with on his first day as a volunteer all those years ago. With an undergraduate degree in anthropology from California State University–Northridge and a master’s degree in zoology from Miami University, he is in the right field, connecting people and animals. “It’s funny,” he muses. “The other mammal curator, Candace Sclimenti, and I laugh because when we were supervisors here together about eight years ago, we shared an office out on grounds. She can remember a day when we were eating lunch and I said, ‘Can you imagine if one day we could work together as curators?’ And she said, ‘That would be amazing!’ It was a goal we both shared—and sure enough we were both hired as curators at the same time. It’s the craziest thing how life works.”

Cathleen Cox When she was in high school, Cathleen Cox wanted to be a marine biologist, so her guidance counselor suggested she look into the University of California–San Diego because of nearby Scripps Institute of Oceanography, which offers graduate study. “My freshman year at UCSD was the second year it was open, so it was a developing campus. No whole animal biology was offered during my first three years, so I switched majors to psychology because then I was able to do an honors thesis on learning in sea anemones.

I was still studying marine behavior. And although Scripps was a graduate institution, I could keep my surf board there informally.” These days, Cox spends her time navigating oceans of paperwork rather than negotiating epic waves, but the one-time AAA competitive surfer is just as adept at managing swells of data. The Los Angeles Zoo’s director of research first came to the Zoo in fall 1980 at the behest of thendirector Warren Thomas. Having earned her doctorate from Stanford University, she was working on a post-doc at UCLA and teaching courses on the side for the university’s Extension Program. Dr. Thomas was interested in developing a behavioral research program at the Zoo and asked his contacts at UCLA if they could suggest someone to teach basic behavioral research methods to volunteers. Cox was hired on a part-time basis, and in April 1986 became the fulltime director of research. The Zoo’s research division is tiny (only two full-time staff) but important. Operating out of Dr. Cox’s office in the curators’ wing and a second office out on grounds, a team of specially trained research volunteers gather data about resident animal behavior. Their findings are valuable tools in providing optimal care. Current long-term studies involve social interactions in gorillas and how exhibit space is utilized by the elephants. At least three “Zoo-wide” studies, each based on 24 cumulative hours of observation, are active at all times. These focus on activity budgets (how animals spend their time), enclosure utilization, and interaction with the public over short periods of time, so they are not suitable for scientific publication, but they provide useful information for the animal care staff. “What I really like about working in the Zoo is that the information is used all the time,” Cox observes. “I also continue to teach at UCLA on a part-time basis, and I like that too because it gives me access to critical thinking and the library, which is invaluable. It also allows me to bring in the students to do studies, which benefits them as well as the Zoo.” j






With a little help from the Zoo, Moorpark College trains the keepers of tomorrow. T uc h may e r

ost people would probably think a job description that includes shoveling poop, lugging heavy loads, and working long hours in sweltering heat or drenching rain wouldn’t be their cup of tea, yet animal care careers (which involve all these activities and more) are highly sought after. The Moorpark College Exotic Animal Training & Management (EATM) program has far more applicants than can be accepted. Nearly 30 percent of the Los Angeles Zoo’s current animal care staff members graduated from the program, which combines rigorous academic coursework with hands-on experience working with a wide range of animal species. Moorpark College is a public two-year institution located in Ventura County. It is home to America’s Teaching Zoo, a five-acre facility housing more than 100 exotic animals. Open to the public on weekends only, the zoo serves as a living classroom for students, who receive additional training at the Los Angeles Zoo. EATM students earn certificates but they can also earn an associate degree if they complete general education requirements in addition to the animal courses. The school generally receives about 110 to 150 applications for the 52 yearly spaces. Students, who range in age from 18 to 50-plus, are selected randomly. Upon completing the program, many find jobs in zoos and acquariums, wild life education facilities, the film and television industry, and many other settings including veterinary hospitals and conservation programs in the wild.

F The EATM program combines rigorous academic coursework with hands-on experience working with a wide range of exotic animal species.


F EATM students plan and write the shows themselves, incorporating animal facts and conservation messages.



D ia n e


B y


G Prior to joining the staff of Moorpark College, Dr. Cynthia Stringfield spent ten years as a veterinarian at the L.A. Zoo.



The Los Angeles Zoo and several of its staff members provide indispensable support to the success of the EATM program. Senior Animal Keeper Dorothy Belanger, who graduated from the program in 1986, has been teaching Animal Care and Handling, a basic husbandry class on cleaning, feeding, and caring for animals, since 2000 at the Moorpark campus. Under her guidance, students open and operate America’s Teaching Zoo. Belanger also directs “Zoo Day,” in which each second-year EATM student spends six days per year working with L.A. Zoo keepers in tending their animal charges. “The purpose of this work skills lab is to provide the students with an offcampus zookeeping experience in a large, metropolitan zoo,” says Belanger. “This unique learning opportunity exposes the student to different animal

F Student trainer Desiree works with Gus, a New Guinea singing dog, during Moorpark Zoo’s Exotic Animal Show.

F Little Joe the leopard tortoise is one of more than 100 exotic animals in residence at Moorpark’s Zoo.

management techniques and to the care and handling of a diverse animal population. The students look forward to working with animals they wouldn’t normally encounter. For example, the Moorpark zoo has a lion but no tigers or sea lions.” Belanger adds that the zookeepers get their work done faster with the aid of the Moorpark students, who are more knowledgeable than most volunteers. Jaguar keeper Dani Cremona, who graduated from the Moorpark program in 2001, recalls about her participation in Zoo Day, “The keepers showed us what it was like to be a real keeper. They weren’t shy about showing us all the hard work we had to do. We worked in the rain, the heat, and the mud. We were tired, dirty, hungry, and thirsty. It’s not glamorous.” Cremona adds, “We do it because we all love animals and

wildlife and conservation, and we want to be part of a bigger picture and make a difference in this world.” Several Zoo staff members contribute to the EATM curriculum as guest lecturers. Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians Ian Recchio is invited to speak at Moorpark College every semester on venomous reptiles or the care of captive lizards and snakes. Senior Animal Keeper and 2001 Moorpark grad Jennifer Kuypers teaches the laboratory portion of EATM’s wildlife education course to incoming secondyear students, who present a 30- to 45-minute show at America’s Teaching Zoo. During the weekend event, two students host and others handle the animals brought out for the public to learn about and view. After their presentation, Kuypers critiques the students on their delivery, content, and body language.




F Nearly onethird of the L.A. Zoo’s keeper staff are Moorpark alums, including Cortney Vargas and Leah Flores, who both graduated from the program in 2005.




“It’s the first time they are doing shows on their own, and they are putting into use what they’ve learned in class during the week. It’s a great thing for the students because they’re learning hands-on, but it’s also great for us as keepers to pass on everything we know so we can help them become better keepers.”



G EATM student Monica shows off the language-mimicking skills of Hollywood, a blue-fronted Amazon parrot.


ecturing to EATM students for the last four years on the roles that zoos play in conservation, Senior Animal Keeper Jim Haigwood observes that since zoos are among the world’s largest conservation organizations, he has many topics to cover. He instructs Moorpark students in zoos’ participation in reintroduction projects, rehabilitation, research, fundraising, citizen science, managed breeding programs, and creating public awareness of environmental issues. He also presents examples of animal keepers who play a significant role in conservation. “EATM is a phenomenal program, and the relationship that it has with the Los Angeles Zoo is mutually beneficial,” Haigwood explains. “The students get to spend time learning from professional animal keepers, and the L.A. Zoo keepers get help with various tasks. As someone involved in the hiring process at the Zoo, I always take note when the candidate I am speaking with is an EATM graduate. These candidates are well-rounded and highly trained. Their enthusiasm is inspiring, and they always ask such thoughtful questions.” Before arriving at Moorpark College in 2004, department co-chair Cynthia Stringfield, D.V.M., spent ten years as a veterinarian at the Los Angeles Zoo. At EATM, she teaches veterinary care, animal husbandry, wildlife education, and conservation. “The Los Angeles Zoo provides a very important link to a large, AZAaccredited zoo for our students,” Stringfield says. “Our teaching zoo on campus is small, and we don’t have any of the Zoo’s large species.” She adds that as part of their academic work, all EATM first year students have the choice of researching an animal species at either the Santa Barbara, San Diego, or Los Angeles Zoo. Many choose Los Angeles, where the animal keepers are invaluable resources for the students’ reports. Stringfield says, “We are incredibly grateful for our relationship with the Los Angeles Zoo.” j




F G Moorpark instructor (and L.A. Zoo Senior Animal Keeper) Jennifer Kuypers coaches students on their presentation style and accuracy.



Important Updates for GLAZA Members


our member newsletter and calendar are now digital, delivering the information you need, when you need it.

• Zooscape Digital features news, articles, and stunning images and videos that offer fascinating, timely perspectives on our animals, staff, and conservation work. • GLAZA Member Calendar spotlights special member events, discounts, and reminders, and includes an exclusive downloadable two-month calendar.


In July, we launched two new monthly digital publications for GLAZA members:

Instead of checking your mailbox for printed issues of Zooscape, check your email in-box for Zooscape Digital and the GLAZA Member Calendar! To ensure that you don’t miss a thing, take a moment to provide your current email address by visiting www.lazoo. org/zooscape. To show our appreciation to our members, we’re offering extra incentives and benefits during the month of August. We have lots of surprises in store, including extra discounts, special token gifts, and the chance to win a four-pack of Hippo Encounter tickets with $10 food vouchers. Visit for a full listing.


August is Member Appreciation Month!










We are grateful to our expanding circle of friends who make the Zoo’s achievements in animal care, conservation, and education possible. In buying a membership you’ ve made a vital investment in your community. Your membership matters—and we thank you!







Carlton D. Dudley (1930–2017) uring his lifetime, Carlton D. Dudley was known as a gentleman—a private, humble man with a caring heart and subtle sense of humor. Those who knew him remember a man dedicated to the service of others, from his enlistment in the United States Air Force to his volunteerism at the Fairplex Garden Railroad and Los Angeles Zoo. Carlton had a passion for the Zoo’s mission, and through an unexpected gift from his estate, he will ensure that future generations can enjoy the Zoo he loved so much. Carlton lived in Los Angeles County his whole life. After graduating in 1948 at the top of his high school class, he attended El Camino College before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. His four-year service in the Korean War found Carlton stationed in West Germany as a radiology specialist. He cultivated an interest in travel during this time, visiting many European countries. When he returned to the U.S., Carlton took advantage of the G.I. Bill and attended UCLA, earning a degree in product engineering while also nurturing his lifelong love of music by playing percussion in the university orchestra. After graduation, he took a job at Xerox, where he worked for 36 years until his retirement. In 1985, Carlton enrolled in the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association’s docent program. Upon his graduation, he became a staple in the Zoo’s volunteer corps; he led tours, was an ambassador both on- and off-grounds, and participated in numerous events such as the Zoo Educators’ Conference in 1994. Carlton’s Zoo tours received high praise, with patrons noting his gift for understanding what each group would find most fascinating. Carlton was also involved with the Docent Training Committee, eventually becoming the class photographer and roster generator. In his remarkable 30 years and 10 months of service, Carlton donated more than 5,600 hours.



A Lasting Legacy

G In three decades of devoted service, Carlton Dudley donated

more than 5,600 hours to the Zoo.

In addition to his passion for wildlife and education, Carlton was an avid motorist, cyclist, and train enthusiast. He was one of the founders of the Fairplex Garden Railroad at the L.A. County Fairgrounds—he even had his own station there called Carlton Heights. Friends, family, and neighbors compliment the San Dimas resident as a conscientious and all-around wonderful man. “Carlton was one of the most generous and thoughtful men I have known,” says his cousin Sue Royalty. “He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.” In his estate plan, he bequeathed a sizable donation in support of the docent program endowment fund, animal keepers, and numerous programs run by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. “With these gifts, Carlton demonstrated his love and gratitude for all who make the Los Angeles Zoo the best zoo in the country,” explains Genie Vasels, Vice President Institutional Advancement. “We thank Carlton for his generosity and deep caring for the Zoo and for his vision in helping to secure the future of an institution he so loved.” —Megan Runquist Holmstedt

If you have an interest in making, or have already made, provisions for support of the Los Angeles Zoo in your estate plan, please contact the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association at (323) 644-4760 or mholmstedt@lazoo. org so that we may provide you with specific language and recognize your intentions. Gifts must be made to GLAZA on behalf of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. For information on the Selig Legacy Society, the acknowledgement program for planned estate gifts, please visit




Profile for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

Zoo View - Summer 2017  

Quarterly magazine of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

Zoo View - Summer 2017  

Quarterly magazine of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

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