Lincoln Park Zoo, WGN legend and more: At 100, Dr. Lester Fisher reflects on his time in Chicago

Dean's List

There are many things we love that are uniquely Chicago’s Very Own.

One of those things is the Lincoln Park Zoo.  

For 153 years, the 35-acre oasis in the city, remains one of the last free zoos in America and now one of the most respected zoological centers for education, science and conservation.

Much of that is because of Dr. Lester Fisher. Fisher was the zoo’s first veterinarian and then its director from 1962 to 1992.   

He also became a household name in Chicago being featured on various WGN programs appearing with animals of all kinds. 

Fisher, who just turned 100-years-old recently, now lives in Hayward, Wisconsin but made a visit to his old stomping grounds where he first came as a young boy.  

Fisher takes a lot of pride in transforming the zoo from a bunch of “cement slabs with bars” to just display the animals, to the natural habitats in which the animals now live. It all happened during 30 years at the helm as millions passed through the gates.

In addition to his duties running the zoo, Fisher became a household name through his many appearances on WGN, especially on “Ray Rayner and His Friends” with his “Ark in the Park” segment throughout the 1970s and “The Bozo Show” in the 1980s.

Watch Dean Richards’ full interview with Dr. Lester Fisher in the player below

From the WGN archives:

In the clip below, Dr. Fisher brings a baby chimp and sugar glider to “The Bozo Show.” This clip originally aired in 1982.

In the clip below, Dr. Lester Fisher is at Lincoln Park Zoo’s dairy barn on “Ray Rayner and His Friends.” This originally aired in 1974.

In the clip below, Dr. Lester Fisher shows how to make a terrarium on “Ray Rayner and His Friends.” This also originally aired in 1974.

In the clip below, Dr. Lester Fisher is at Lincoln Park Zoo’s aviary on “Ray Rayner and His Friends.” This aired in 1974.

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