When Bonner joined the zoo, folks talked about filling the big sneakers of president Charlie Hoessle, who labored there almost 40 years. Bonner additionally credit earlier beloved leaders like Marlin Perkins. “To the extent that I’ve been profitable right here and actually, now we have been profitable right here, it’s as a result of we’re standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Bonner was born in Detroit, graduated from highschool in O’Fallon, Missouri, and visited the zoo as a child. He remembers Phil the gorilla and the elephant present, and remembers his educator father, additionally named Phil, telling his son the zoo named the gorilla after him. “I used to be like 27 after I realized it wasn’t true,” Bonner stated, laughing.
Bonner was a Fulbright Scholar who obtained a doctorate at Columbia College, the place he studied how vegetation, folks and animals work together, after which taught on the College of Michigan. He developed reveals and teaching programs on the St. Louis Science Heart for 10 years earlier than getting into the zoo world because the director of the Indianapolis Zoo. There, he was credited with remodeling it from a “youngsters zoo” to a severe analysis heart.
He and his spouse, Melody Noel, stay in Creve Coeur, however wish to downsize to a smaller residence or condominium and are constructing a home within the Florida panhandle, the place they hope to spend extra time. It’s in a neighborhood with bears, 4 “nice” species of venomous snakes, deer and a few predatory cats, he says with enthusiasm.