It’s All Happening at the Zoo

Denisonian Chris Fisher ’20 interned with the San Francisco Zoo

“Learning and experiencing the animal world firsthand fosters a true understanding and deep-seated care for the world around us,” says Chris Fisher ‘20.

In the summer of 2019, Fisher landed a dream internship with the San Francisco Zoo. It is home to over 2,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals representing more than 250 species. Those animals were the center of Fisher’s work.

“I was able to see almost every animal daily. I learned that they are all individuals with quirks and idiosyncrasies that make them all that more endearing,” he says. “You learn to appreciate everything around you, and not take it for granted.”

Fisher has always been inspired by the animal world. He grew up watching the television show Animal Planet and admired wildlife conservationists, Jeff Corwin and Steve Irwin. Yet he came to Denison with a plan to study economics. “With the help of some insightful classes and a healthy dose of introspection,” says the biology major, “I realized that this was my path all along.”

At the San Francisco Zoo, Fisher’s task was to monitor the behavior of the animals. He observed animals in habitats from arctic to tropic. A pair of Coquerel’s Sifakas (lemurs) named Neil and Karen caught his attention. “They were just so hilarious to watch wrestle and steal each other’s food. I would watch them for ages and eventually came to the conclusion that they were basically just toddlers with tails and fur.”

He also grew fond of an Andean Condor, who lived in a non-public section of the zoo. “Whenever I would come by to take any data on her, she would run-up to the fence and spread her wings wide and jump for joy that a person came along. She was really sweet!”

“With the help of some insightful classes and a healthy dose of introspection, I realized that this was my path all along.”

Fisher’s class in ornithology with Emeritus Biology Professor Tom Schultz helped determine his calling. “That class really inspired me to pursue this path and follow my true dream,” he says.

That fateful ornithology class also happened to be one of Schultz’s last classes prior to retirement. Schultz recalls, ”Chris’s curiosity and enthusiasm really brightened those classes, and experiences he had outside the classroom really fired him up.” He adds, “He made a point of thanking me after every lecture. Chris contributed to making my last teaching experience one of the best.”

Post-graduation, Fisher hopes to work with a conservation outlet or with an animal rescue outlet. “Ultimately, I would like to become a certified animal rescuer and rehabilitator and use those skills to protect animals,” he says.

“To sum it up, I’ll share the most important quote I have ever encountered, that perfectly captures why I do what I do, spoken by the great Jane Goodall,” says Fisher. “‘Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.’”

November 19, 2019