Zookeepers Drafted

The first person to be called up in the draft by the selective service for WWII was actually one of the San Diego Zoo’s keepers: Howard Lee, seen here with one of his charges. The story about his leaving his job taking care of animals at the Zoo to join the service was printed in newspapers all over the world.

As the Zoo’s most experienced keepers were drafted, they came back to spend their military leaves at the Zoo, cleaning cages and feeding animals, while trying to train their replacements. Belle Benchley took over many of the duties herself during this time, spending long hours taking care of the animals, managing budgets that were tighter than ever, and using some of Dr. Harry’s schemes to acquire needed items and food for the animals.

1942

War Years 1937 - 1946
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