Roaring Forward into the Future
The roar has been an important part of San Diego Zoo Global’s history ever since Dr. Harry Wegeforth heard the roar of a lion that needed a home and was inspired to create the San Diego Zoo. Through determination and community support, what was seen as Dr. Harry’s folly became a source of pride for San Diego, and through the years, it has transformed into a world-renowned conservation organization that is committed to leading the fight against extinction.
The organization went from a small group of cages along Park Boulevard in 1916 to three leading facilities in 2016: the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. In the late 1920s, Belle Benchley worked with 30 employees; in 2016, there were nearly 3,000. Where Dr. Harry felt fortunate to be able to take care of a few individual animals without a home in the 1930s, San Diego Zoo Global now had more than 140 field projects in 80 countries worldwide to try to protect and save species. Where Dr. Harry dedicated the San Diego Zoo to the children of San Diego, San Diego Zoo Global was dedicated to the children of the world during its centennial. What began with one man and one lion has become the combined voices and dedication of millions on behalf of species everywhere. Dr. Harry would be amazed—but then again, perhaps not. He might just nod in approval, having expected no less. And he would probably have several ideas about what to do next.