Honoring Dr. Fisher

Happy Birthday to a Lincoln Park Zoo Legend!

Dr. Lester E. Fisher is a Lincoln Park Zoo legend. Hired as the zoo’s first veterinarian in 1947, he was named director in 1962, beginning a 30-year tenure that transformed the zoo. With the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, Dr. Fisher introduced a new emphasis on education and conservation while remaking zoo grounds to meet modern expectations for animal comfort and care.

Even in retirement, he continues to influence animal conservation and care. The zoo’s world-class Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes reflects his longstanding dedication to our closest living relatives. Similarly, the recently established Dr. Lester E. Fisher Director of Veterinary Medicine Endowment supports the zoo’s efforts to care for all its animals, big and small.

As Dr. Fisher celebrates his 90th birthday, we’re honoring his impressive legacy. Join us for a celebration on February 24—or share your birthday message in the field below.

Join the Celebration

Join us at 10:30 a.m. on February 24 at Regenstein Center for African Apes to celebrate Dr. Fisher’s Lincoln Park Zoo legacy. Guests can offer their best wishes with an oversized birthday card as the chimpanzees and gorillas join the fun with a piñata “cake” and “presents.”

Share a Birthday Message with Dr. Fisher Below!


I was just out of the Army when I was confronted with my first Lion's Roar, Epic, miraculous, convincing, I have painted a few lion since but only the true encounter is as astounding a truth to behold, with thanks for the magnificence, Glen Alan Eichhorn September 3, 2015

Thanks for sharing. What a pleasure to read!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Fisher! I met you in 1974 at Children's Memorial Hospital. I was a Nuclear Medicine Technology Student at Northwestern Memorial Hospital doing a clinical rotation at Children's. You brought in a baby gorilla (I think her name was Patty) that had been tossed around. We performed a brain scan on the little creature. When the scan was over, I asked if I could hold her and you said "yes." That was the thrill of my life! I will never forget that day. I originally wanted to be a Veterinarian, but didn't make the cut at U of I. I went on to a career in Nuclear Medicine and volunteerism at the Brookfield Zoo. I too, was a fan of Ark in the Park. Thank you for all of your years doing good things for animals and connecting people with conservation.

A Very Happy Birthday to you.

Don't know if you remember me, Barbara and my sister Ruth, daughters of Helen & Ed Katz from way back when. Was listening to Dean Richards today and heard about your birthday. Glad you are still around for all of us lucky ones to have known you. Would love to "talk" with you and go over the "old days". E-mail me if you can.

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher,
Back in the late 1960's you were our dog's doctor at the Berwyn Animal Hospital, and as a small child I remembered your kind and caring way with our family pet. I religiously watched you on Ray Rayner's show, teaching the children of the Chicago area about the diversity and importance of the animals with which we share our planet. I was also very fortunate to be a student of your sister, Rose Fisher Oplatka, at Lincoln Junior High School in Berwyn, who also was an enormously positive influence to so many children, teaching us biology, and to love and respect the natural world around us. She shared the pictures and the stories of the trip you both made to Africa in the early 1970's, and at the time I felt I knew two of the most facinating and inspirational people in the the world, and decades later I still believe that to be true. I know that she will be celebrating her 100th birthday next week.
So, I wish to thank you both, for being such an important facet of my youth, and for sharing your passion for animals, and all they teach us about or world and ourselves. May you and your sister enjoy a very happy and healthy birthday. With gratitude and best wishes, Mark

Hi Les, I hope you had a wonderful birthday. You are truly one of the great leaders in the zoo profession. All the best, Mary Healy, Director, Sacramento Zoo

Happy Birthday, Dr. Fisher! It was an honor to have worked on the enrichment items given to the great apes today in celebration of your birthday. I hope this day was the best birthday ever for you.


Dear Les,
It's so nice to read all the wonderful good wishes for your 90th birthday. You are truly one of the 'good guys' in our zoo business and you hold a special place in our hearts and we wish you continued good health from Roanoke VA.
Mike (ret.) and Dee Janis

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher. I remember you taking care of my English Setter, Debbie at the Berwyn Amical Hospital. I have always been proud to say that the famour Dr. Fisher took care of my dog.

Dear Dr. Fisher, A most happy and healthy 90th birthday! Thanks for "Ark in the Park" and your work and care for the animals. My Mom, Ann Hutter, worked for your brother, Dr. Herb Fisher, at the Harvey Medical Clinic. If he is still with us, please give him my regards as well.

Happy 90th Birthday, Dr. Fisher! Congratulations, and thank you for all your years of wonderful service to the Lincoln Park Zoo. My children and I enjoyed the WGN broadcasts of "Ark in the Park" with you and Ray Rayner during the 1970's-80's. I now share the same love and information about animals with my grandchildren.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher!! I had the privilege of meeting you back in the early 1990's when I was a docent at the zoo. My MOST favorite place to be was the ape house. That was back when Koundu was still there ;-) Thank you for being such an integrative part of one of the best zoos worldwide!

A very Happy 90th Birthday to you Dr. Fisher! Congratulations and may thanks to you for all your years of wonderful service to the Lincoln Park Zoo, and education of the public about the importance of preserving and conserving all animal species. My two children and I really enjoyed the WGN "Ark in the Park" broadcasts with you and Ray Rayner during the 1970's-80's. What a great and fun educational platform for both children and parents about the importance of all animals in our world environment. I now share those lesson of information and animal conservation with my three grandchildren, ages 9, 7, & 5. May the legacy of your fine work live for generations to come!

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher! I watched you on the Ray Rayner show my whole childhood. I wish you all the best and thank you for the great memories.

I have many fond memories of the "Ark in the Park" show. Happy Birthday and thank you so much!!!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher!!!

I have wonderful memories of being a child in Oak Lawn, IL and watching ARK IN THE PARK every morning on Ray Rayner. I always wondered what that chimpanzee was chewing on during the opening segment (ewwwww!!) and I still don't know! Do you? :)

Best wishes,

David Forrer
New York City

The green alligators, the long necked geese, the humpty back camels and the chimpanzees, the cats, the rats, the elephants on the day you were born, wish you a Happy Birthday with the unicorn.Thank You and Happy Birthday

(¯`*•.-:¦:-•:*Happy Birthday`*•.-:¦:-•:*¯) Thanks for all the fond memories!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher! I grew up in Riverside and you were my dog Rex's vet! When you went to work for the zoo you would call my mother Margaret Hofstra and tell her to send me over to your house because you had brought home an animal to nurse. I enjoyed that so much and I still tell people about it today. May you continue to help animals for years to come! Glenn Hofstra

Happy birthday, Dr. Fisher. I had the privilege of a "behind-the-scenes" tour of the zoo back in 1965 when my homeroom and science teacher your sister, Rose Oplatka, took our class there. I met you 5 years ago at a booksigning at The Book Stall in Winnetka which led to me reuniting with Mrs. Oplatka. Thank you very much! Have a lovely day and celebration!

Happy Birthday!!! Dr Fisher, thank you for showing me the greatness of animals. I watched you on Ray Rayner when I was a kid, and ever since whenever I have a couple of spare hours I go to the zoo. Thank you for teaching so many of us the importance of animal conservation.

Happy birthday, Dr Fisher! I loved watching you as a kid, and appreciate the contributions you've made to this world. I wish you all the best and many more happy years.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fischer!!

Thank you for introducing so many animals into our young lives. We loved you as children and are so grateful as adults now. You taught us so many wonderful things about our four legged, two legged, no legged friends.

I love Lincoln Park Zoo !! You helped it be one of the best zoos around.

Many many more happy years!! You may not be on TV as much as you were back in the 60 & 70's but your memories will be alive forever !!!!!!


Happy 90th birthday Dr. Fisher and many more! Thanks for being a part of my childhood and fostering my love of animals. "Green alligators & long-necked geese" always bring a smile to my face & a song in my heart.

Happy 90th birthday, Dr. Fisher. We truly appreciate your thumbprint on Lincoln Park Zoo, one of our favorite places in the city I have fond memories of you on Ray Rayner, and my 6 year old daughter is a true animal lover. Best wishes and many happy returns.

Happy wishes and fullfilled dreams to you Dr. Fisher on your 90th birthday! As a child in a large family, the Zoo was our playground and the gorillas were my favorite too. Your days on Ray Raynor and Bozo's Circus are still priceless.

Happy Birthday Doc Fisher you were great to all the people who worked at the zoo. Terry Ryan

Hey Dr Fisher, I have many wonderful memory's of my zoo day, it was an honor to have worked with you. Have the best birthday Tony .

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher!!! I grew up watching Ray Raynor, and "Ark in the Park" was always my favorite segment of the show!! I even know "The Unicorn" song because of you!! Thank you for making me smile each morning, and thank you for instilling a love of animals in me that I have now passed along to my daughter. She wants to be a veterinarian!! Thank you!!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher, I have many fond memories of your appearances on Ark in the Park with Ray Rayner. Also growing up in Chicago and visiting Lincoln Park Zoo with my family. My children are all grown up but we still visit Lincoln Park Zoo many times during the year so a big Thank You to you for all your work in making the zoo what it is today. You are and always will be a treasure to Chicago. Happy Birthday

H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y !

Watch you since I was a kid.....Great memories!!!!!!!


Happy Birthday Doc Fisher............... thank you for everything you have given to th zoo the city and mostly to those of us who are the kids of the Ark in the Park LOVED IT growing up................wishing you many more good years

Happy Birthday and thank you Dr. Fisher. You were a wonderful and memorable part of my childhood. God bless,

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher. I am one of the many children who watched you bring the joy of animals into our home as a child. My love of animals was passed down to me from your television presentations. I now pass the love and respect that you taught me on to my children. What a wonderful news segment to remember and honor you on television today. Thank you WGN for honoring a man who has done more for the children in the Chicagoland area then he will ever know.

Happy Birthday Dr Fisher, thank you for all the great memories growing up in Chicago and seeing you at LPZ and on Ray Rayner! I wish you many more happy years to come!

Happy 90th birthday Dr. Fisher!! We are both in our 70's and were raised in Evanston. We have always been avid fans of yours and loved your TV appearances and visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo - as children ourselves, and as we got older, taking our children.

Happy Birthday and God Bless you Dr. Fisher. I have great memories of you and Ray in the morning before school :) Since your segment was played on TV I have the "Unicorn Song" playing in my head!
Happy Birthday again and enjoy your day!

Cats and Rats and Elephants......
Happy Birthday Doc

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher! Thanks for many years at Lincoln Park!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher. You were apart of my wonderful childhood in Chicago. God Bless

Happy birthday, sir!

Dr. Fisher,

I am son #3 mentioned above and I did just turn 50. Memories of Ark in Park are still vivid for me as is your theme song from those many years ago. Back then we only had a few channels on our B&W television, and now there are hundreds. In all those hundreds of channels and thousands of show, there is not another Dr. Fisher with his Ark in the Park. Thanks for the memories and inspiration, and a very Happy Birthday. Many more.

Happy Birthday from all of us at Executive Service Corps of Chicago. Enjoy your day!

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher! You still look hale and healthy and I wish you many more! My brother and sisters and I never missed an Ark in the Park (even though we'd have to run like heck to catch the bus!) and you instilled in all of us a reverence and appreciation for all living things. My family was lucky enough to visit the zoo on a day when you were extracting a tooth that had grown through the lip of a polar bear. We were all so excited to actually see you in person -- it was our first brush with STARDOM ! And we all got a little woozy from the ether you were using as anesthesia :). But it was a day I'll never forget, and I'd just like to say thank you for the many years of happiness you brought to countless children. God Bless you sir, you're a national treasure.

While watching WGN news last night in Wisconsin were I now live I saw you were celebrating your 90 birthday. Just wanted to say Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher. I worked as a Zoo Leader in the Children's Zoo during 1963-65. I left the zoo to enter nursing school. I have been a nurse for about 40 years. I enjoyed working at the zoo and have many great memories of my days at Lincoln Park Zoo with Elsie the chimp and Frank the gorilla.

Animals are still a great joy in my life and wish you the best.

Terry (Kucinski) Dalla Valle

Dr Fisher i just loved what you did for us kids when i was young seeing you with my pal Ray at the zoo i was always glued to the set as a kid and as you spoke i listened, i learned so much each time about kindness to Animals because of you and still cary that today with me. Happy Birthday friend you mean alot to me and ohhhh i love that song Green alligators as i would sing it my mom would too :) im 43 now.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher! Have a Great Day!

Dr. Fisher was our family vet when we first moved to Illinois waaay back in 1955. At that time he was also a veterinarian for the Zoo, too.

Marsha Anthony

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