Zoo Update with John Lewis

L.A. Zoo Lights: Shining Bright, and Cooler Than Ever
October 30, 2018

Debbie and John Lewis at Bowling for Rhinos in 2015. Photo by Jamie Pham

Sixty-eight is a fine number. It is the largest known number to be the sum of two primes in exactly two different ways: 68=7+61=31+37. Sixty-eight represents how many times I have written this column for Zooscape and it represents the last time I will pen this column, as I am retiring from my position at the end of 2018.

Since July 2003, I have had the high privilege of serving as the zoo director for the Los Angeles Zoo. During that time, with your help and the tremendous talents of Zoo and GLAZA staff, we have done some incredible work together saving animals from extinction, caring for the Zoo’s resident animals, and teaching children while providing a safe respite for friends and families to enjoy together.

In this very issue are examples of animal care and reproduction of several threatened species that have direct application to wild populations. Children become aware that reindeer are real and fascinating animals through Reindeer Romp, and the whole community can celebrate another year during L.A. Zoo Lights. Modern zoos, especially those accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), are more important than ever because of what we know, what we do, and what we add to our communities’ quality of life. As more and more people, even a majority, move to urban areas disconnected from wildlife and their habitats, there needs to be a spark, frame of reference, and a context for wildlife and land caring. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums provide such a muse, an inspiration, and often a call for action.

The greater L.A. area is home to four accredited facilities, including the California Science Center, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, and the L.A. Zoo. Each has its own specialty and contributions to conservation. Please check them out if you haven’t already. Please stay involved and thank you for your support. This place is a zoo and I am proud of it.