Trunkline Magazine (Louisville Zoo) March 2019 - Page 6

  The Stories that Move Us...     This year in Trunkline, we’re shar- ing fun stories about the Zoo’s his- tory and the people who have made our Zoo what it is today. Stories of hope, of struggle and triumph, of passionate dedication, of friendship and love. Stories that make us smile, make us question and that make us proud. For 50 years, the Zoo has helped to inspire thousands of people to pursue careers in animal care, educa- tion and a variety of sciences — and stirred millions more to show com- passion toward animals, the environ- ment and appreciate having a Zoo in their community. We at the Zoo are deeply proud of the role we play, the differences we make within our community and of the collective impact AZA-accredited organizations are having worldwide. Below learn about two of our long- time keepers and the roles they have played in shaping modern zoos on the path to becoming champions of endangered species. We want to share your Zoo stories too! Post your pictures on social media with the hashtag #LouZoo50 & #wearelouzoo. Tag us on Instagram @louisvillezooofficial, or on Twitter and Facebook @louisvillezoo. Don’t forget to make your post public! Bill McMahan If you’re near the HerpAquarium and see a well-spoken keeper with a snazzy brimmed hat and a perfectly-maintained mustache — you’re probably looking at the Lou- isville Zoo’s HerpAquarium Curator and 38-year veteran Bill McMahan. Bill is best known over the years at the Louisville Zoo for being the patron of reptiles everywhere. Bill was passionate about reptiles from a young age. He learned about geology and dinosaurs from books his mother owned, and as a child, wanted to become a vertebrate pa- leontologist. “It’s not surprising that I gravitated toward crocodiles later, which are most closely allied with reptile forms from the Mesozoic era,” Bill said. What you may not know is that Bill’s tenure at the Zoo hasn’t solely been with reptiles. In fact, he’s worked with a host of animals over the years. During his teenage years, Bill spent his days caring for animals in exotic pet shops that housed everything from raptors to monkeys (this was before the Endangered Species Act of 1973), and even tended to horses for a time. His career at the Zoo actually started as a night keeper, mak- ing rounds to check on the animals and to make sure the exhibits were secured. He later moved into the Louisville Zoo’s Africa / giraffe area, caring for a variety of animals including various types of antelope, big cats, small primates and even some reptiles. “I loved those years. Those were fun years.” McMahan said. “When we had two young orangutans, Tasha and Tyrone, that temporarily came to the Zoo for about 9 or 10 months, I would go inside the exhibit and hang on the ropes and they would climb down my back! Animal management standards were very different in those days.” When we began construction for the HerpAquarium in the late 80s, Bill was hired on as head keeper. He was responsible for 6 • Louisville Zoo Trunkline • Spring 2019 Bill McMahan, Gary Johnson and Will Bird examine crocodile. Bill McMahan in 2018