Talk to the Animals
In 1971, Joan Embery appeared for the first time on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” with her friend, Carol the elephant (left). That show was a milestone for the San Diego Zoo. Johnny Carson continued to ask Joan and the San Diego Zoo animals back year after year. At first Carson hadn’t been sure he wanted to have live animals on the show, but he immediately saw the comedic effect and potential, and he knew how to make the most of it. Whether he was reacting to a king snake slithering up his sleeve (which he intentionally let happen), looking soulfully into the eyes of a baby gorilla, teasing Joan about her dislike of insects, or making it very clear how he felt when a marmoset peed on his head, audiences ate it up. The Zoo segments became a well-known and eagerly anticipated part of the show, and, as in the 1950s with “Zoorama,” the San Diego Zoo was once again in living rooms across the nation and around the world, reaching millions of people.