Monday, November 7, 2011

Ron Blakely

Ray Pawley, Brookfield Zoo curator holds a vampire bat,captured in a remote cave in Mexico, with Ron Blakely, director of Zoology looking on. 1965


Jim A. said...

Both men came from Lincoln Park Zoo. Ray was Curator of Reptiles and Ron was originally Curator of Birds. When Robert Bean retired Brookfield tried a team approach with four directors - business, vet, research, animals. Didn't last long and became two directors, Ron had zoology and Encil Rains had business operations. It was a mess too but lasted longer. I'd visit Ron (in Bean's old office), he'd shut the door and vent.

Ron left Brookfield and went on to be the Director of the Sedgwick Co. Zoo in Wichita, KS. He was a creative and knowledgable zoo man who developed and excellent zoo. I remember visiting the Zoo with Ron and he could tell you why each part of exhibit had a role - every building had an opening display meant to slow you down so you would look and learn. (That's also the plan at Animal Kingdom, and sometime it works.) The Zoo's education building is a fine tribute to him.

A little known fact about Ron: In his youth he worked on the Strates Carnival as Capt. Ronald Blake, world's youngest trainer, presenting the untamable lion.

Ray's retired and living in New Mexico amongst the herptiles.

Wade G. Burck said...

Great, great stuff. Thank you for sharing. I knew Brookfield tried two director's, but I had never heard they tried four first. Jesus, couldn't anybody have guessed how that was going to play out. God, what a bonehead move that was. Mr. Blakely did indeed develop a world class, in my mind even today, underrated zoo at Wichita.