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Adventures of a Zoo Director

Adventures of a Zoo Director - Steve H. Taylor

Adventures of a Zoo Director


From a very young age growing up in southern California, Steve Taylor, knew he wanted to do something with his life to save wildlife and wild places. What he didn't know then, was how much fun it would be. During his career he met many interesting people and interacted with many fascinating animals. This book tells those stories.


Steve was born in 1947 and grew up in Inglewood, California, just outside of Los Angeles. He didn't have an early mentor when it came to animals, but he had a passion. He would collect various lizards and amphibians and keep them in cages behind the garage. After reading several books by British zoologist, Gerald Durrell, he knew he wanted to work in a zoo. A couple of years after graduating with a degree in Biology from the University of California, Irvine in 1969 he took an exam at Hollywood High School along with 1200 others to get a job as an animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. Having the seventh highest score on the exam, he was soon hired. While at the Los Angeles Zoo, he took his first of many "zoo trips." On this trip he traveled on Greyhound buses and saw nineteen zoos in thirty days.


He worked hard and continued studying biology at Long Beach State University while looking for opportunities to advance his career. While giving a paper at a regional conference entitled, Mother-Infant Behavior of the Scimitar-horned Oryx, he met the Executive Director of the San Francisco Zoological Society who offered him a job as manager of the children's zoo. It was like having his own zoo. In fact, he actually lived in the children's zoo so he would be available if an exotic animal had to be hand-raised. His favorite were two young orangutans.


From there he moved on to become the Director of the Sacramento Zoo. His dream had now come true - he was a Zoo Director at 34-years old. It was a small zoo, but with an impressive animal collection. During his tenure he created a plan to expand the Zoo from its 12-acres. Unfortunately, there was considerable opposition by a neighborhood group. When recruited to become director of the 180-acre Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, he accepted it. In this book he shares his insights into leading a zoo and the successes and some mistakes he made during his long career.


The most interesting stories involved the people he met, some famous like Betty White, and many not so famous. The animal stories, including orangutan and gorilla escapes that fortunately ended with no harm to the apes or staff, show the uniqueness of running a zoo.


Having seen over 350 zoos and aquariums worldwide, Steve takes a bold step in this book by sharing his opinion of the best zoos and aquariums in the world, although freely admitting that others have differing opinions.


Travel has been Steve's other passion and most of his travel involved viewing wildlife or attending various zoo and/or conservation meetings. He has led over thirty African safaris, plus led groups on other ecotourism destinations. In 2002, he walked with friends 120 miles through Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Other than the twelve countries he has visited in Africa, he has viewed wildlife in New Zealand, Australia, Borneo, the Pantanal in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, the Galapagos Island, Costa Rica, India, every country in Central America and a few others.


Retired in December 2012, Steve continued to lead safaris, attending conservation meeting, consulting, acting as a chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation inspection teams and being a Board member of the Akron Zoo.


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From a very young age growing up in southern California, Steve Taylor, knew he wanted to do something with his life to save wildlife and wild places. What he didn't know then, was how much fun it would be. During his career he met many interesting people and interacted with many fascinating animals. This book tells those stories.


Steve was born in 1947 and grew up in Inglewood, California, just outside of Los Angeles. He didn't have an early mentor when it came to animals, but he had a passion. He would collect various lizards and amphibians and keep them in cages behind the garage. After reading several books by British zoologist, Gerald Durrell, he knew he wanted to work in a zoo. A couple of years after graduating with a degree in Biology from the University of California, Irvine in 1969 he took an exam at Hollywood High School along with 1200 others to get a job as an animal keeper at the Los Angeles Zoo. Having the seventh highest score on the exam, he was soon hired. While at the Los Angeles Zoo, he took his first of many "zoo trips." On this trip he traveled on Greyhound buses and saw nineteen zoos in thirty days.


He worked hard and continued studying biology at Long Beach State University while looking for opportunities to advance his career. While giving a paper at a regional conference entitled, Mother-Infant Behavior of the Scimitar-horned Oryx, he met the Executive Director of the San Francisco Zoological Society who offered him a job as manager of the children's zoo. It was like having his own zoo. In fact, he actually lived in the children's zoo so he would be available if an exotic animal had to be hand-raised. His favorite were two young orangutans.


From there he moved on to become the Director of the Sacramento Zoo. His dream had now come true - he was a Zoo Director at 34-years old. It was a small zoo, but with an impressive animal collection. During his tenure he created a plan to expand the Zoo from its 12-acres. Unfortunately, there was considerable opposition by a neighborhood group. When recruited to become director of the 180-acre Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, he accepted it. In this book he shares his insights into leading a zoo and the successes and some mistakes he made during his long career.


The most interesting stories involved the people he met, some famous like Betty White, and many not so famous. The animal stories, including orangutan and gorilla escapes that fortunately ended with no harm to the apes or staff, show the uniqueness of running a zoo.


Having seen over 350 zoos and aquariums worldwide, Steve takes a bold step in this book by sharing his opinion of the best zoos and aquariums in the world, although freely admitting that others have differing opinions.


Travel has been Steve's other passion and most of his travel involved viewing wildlife or attending various zoo and/or conservation meetings. He has led over thirty African safaris, plus led groups on other ecotourism destinations. In 2002, he walked with friends 120 miles through Tsavo National Park in Kenya. Other than the twelve countries he has visited in Africa, he has viewed wildlife in New Zealand, Australia, Borneo, the Pantanal in Brazil, Argentina, Peru, the Galapagos Island, Costa Rica, India, every country in Central America and a few others.


Retired in December 2012, Steve continued to lead safaris, attending conservation meeting, consulting, acting as a chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation inspection teams and being a Board member of the Akron Zoo.


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