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!


Happy 90th Birthday, Dr. Fisher! I have many great memories of watching you on The Ray Raynor Show, and I always looked forward to the "Ark in the Park" segment. I take my daughter to Lincoln Park Zoo often, and I think of you when we are there. God bless you, and may you enjoy much happiness and good health! Thank you for touching my life and creating wonderful memories that I can pass along to my daughter!

Happy Birthday Dr Lester Fischer!! I always enjoyed your segments on Ray Rayner's. they were great memories for me. thank you for the memories and the experience.

Dr. Fisher, happy birthday and thanks for giving us so much through Lincoln Park Zoo. My father loved to tell a story about the zoo that dates back to the early 1960s. He was a pediatrician at Children's Memorial and he recalled that one night a special patient from Lincoln Park Zoo was brought in for xrays or some other treatment. I can't recall what the procedure was and what specific primate, but that was a Chicago moment my father always treasured.

Dr. Fisher: I have many great memories from watching you on Ray Rayner's Show way back when. Thank you for everything you have done for the animals! It was great seeing you on WGN news this morning. Happy birthday! You look great!!

Dear Dr. Fisher, Happy birthday....thank you for all you did to make me appreciate the amazing zoo that we have here. I am now lucky enough to work a couple blocks away and we come all the time with out students. I hope you have an amazing day and party ! Laura Steenveld-Hamilton

Happy birthday, Dr. Fisher. Ark in the Park was one of the brightest spots on TV for my children (and for me) those many years ago. Son #3 was and is a special fan of yours and he is now 50!. Never mind how old I am. Enjoy your day as much as we have enjoyed you and your love for the animals !

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher!!! I looked forward to and loved watching you on Ray Rayner and Bozo as a kid!! God Bless You and may your birthday be as special to you as you are to all of us!!!

Happy Birthday Dr Fisher. Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the great places to visit in Chicago and a true legacy to you as well. May it always remain free to everyone so people can come and learn about and enjoy animals.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher, You always managed to bring the zoo to me even when I could not be there.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Fisher! I remember you from your first veterinarian job in Berwyn. I was 9 and had a new dog, and you were so gentle and sweet with her. I remember your voice when you talked to our dog--such love and kindness that I will never forget you. Wishing you many more happy birthdays and all the good memories to share with those of us lucky enough to have known you when...

A VERY HAPPY 90th Birthday to our former veterinarian!! You took care of our darling Daisy (dog) many years ago when we lived in Stickney, IL. Also, wanted you to know that we just returned from a brief trip to Tempe, AZ, where we visited our dear family friend, Emilie Saxl. Your ears should have been ringing for it happens that we talked about you with her. We found that you are related to the late George Saxl, whom we know since he began dating Emilie, what a small world! We wish you the very best and many more happy and healthy years to you. Very Sincerely and with Best Wishes, Len and Toni Votava

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher! I grew up watching your segments on the Ray Raynor show and always looked forward to seeing you. I still sing the theme song to myself when I'm in a good mood! I wish you many more birthdays to come! Thank you!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher - My mother grew up watching you and shared your information with me. Today is my birthday as well, and I am interested in animals, sharks in particular. I am thinking that I will investigate your conservation research and see if this interests me. Thank you for your hard work in Chicago. Many more happy years.

Dear Dr. Fisher, I hope you have a great birthday and many, many more. Thank you so much for the years of visits on "Ark in the Park" and your wonderful work with all of Lincoln Park Zoo's residents

Happy Birthday! I grew up watching you on the Ray Rayner Show and absolutely was in awe of the wonderful relationship you had with the animals. My first visit to Lincoln Park Zoo was because I wanted to see the animals that I would see on the show. Thank you so much for the years of fun and more importantly the education!!!

Happy Birthday Les! Many happy returns of the day! Warm wishes, Susan and Chuck

Happy Birthday, Dr. Fisher! Thank you for being a treasured part of my childhood! Ark in the Park was my favorite show segment on WGN, and that's saying a lot because you worked with the wonderful Ray Rayner who I was fortunate to have met later. Thanks for your animal advocacy, conservation efforts, and educating viewers. Have the best birthday ever!

A very happy birthday to you. Your "Ark in the Park" was one of my favorite segments during the years when my daughter was a child. Your contributions, not only to the zoo, but to those of us who were fortunate enough to see you on television, are priceless. Thank you for all you did to help the animal world.

I took my little girl there as often as possible when she was growing up.. we may have even passed by you during one of our many strolls around the grounds. Seeing all those magnificent animals instilled in us both a love and respect for all living things that has endured throughout our lives. My daughter is now in her thirties with a 3 year old daughter of her own. We will pass down what we have learned and that is that it takes extraordinary people like you, to bring attention to what really matters in life. Wildlife and a healthy ecosystem is more important than iphones and movies and fast food and fashion.... Thank You for ALL you did for the animals at the zoo and around the world. God Bless you on your 90th Birthday, Dr. Fisher!

Happy Birthday to you and of course many many more. What memories our family has with your teaching about animals and the kind way you always appeared to them. Hope you are in good health and happy ;

Happy Birthday Dr.Fisher. I grew up watching Ark in the Park and it just reinforced my love for animals. I visited Lincoln Park Zoo often as a kid and it is still my favorite zoo. Now I take my grandkids there. Best Wishes to you.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher!

Happy 90 Dr. Fisher thanks for caring so much for all the animals of our world.

You'll always be in my heart as part of my chicago childhood-love you and have a great birthday!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher! I remember watching you as a child on the Ray Raynor show and how you brought the zoo to my living room! Thank you you for your dedication to the Lincoln Park Zoo and educating the youth about God's amazing creatures!

Happy Birthday Dr. Fischer! I hope your day is filled with special memories, just like the ones you have left us with from watching you on Ray Rayner. Enjoy your special day!!!

Happy Birthday. Many memories of waching Ray Rayner and Bozo with my children. You were informative and so caring with the animals. Thank you.

Thank you for a wonderful zoo! Happy Birthday, enjoy your day!

Dear Dr. Fisher, You inspired me with your love of animals, and I really enjoyed watching and learning from you. Because of you I was able to share that love and information with all of my students. Lincoln Park Zoo really benefited from your leadership. My grandchildren now enjoy their many visits there. Thank you for all that you did, and Happy Birthday!

Dear Dr. Fisher, As a child, I loved watching you on the Ray Rayner show and loved all your visits with the animals. You are truly to be admired for all the work you do with animals and I hope you have a very Happy Birthday.

Dr. Fisher, Happy Birthday to you and God Bless You for all your good work. You made this former grade school student happy to get up in the morning to see what animals you would bring to the Ray Rayner Show. You started me and others I'm sure on a life long love of animals and the thirst for the wonders of the world out there. You have no idea just how much you were able to bring to small town kids with no access to the things you presented on TV. You still look fantastic to me! Thanks again.

To my mentor and leader in the veterinary field ...... Happy, Happy, Birthday.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher! I grew up watching you on Ray Rayner. Thank you for the great childhood memories!

Happy Birthday! Both my daughter and I have fond memories of the Zoo and your visits on the Ray Rayner Show. Thanks for all you have done for the Zoo.

Happy birthday Dr. Fisher! My grandpa was the curator of the reptile house and he had such wonderful stories to tell of you and the zoo. Thank you!

I worked at the zoo when I was about 15 years of age. What was your grandfather name? I may remember him.

Terry (Kucinski) Dalla Valle

Dear Dr. Fisher: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! My husband and I both grew up watching you on the Ray Rayner Show.

Thanks for sharing many years with our family. Thanks to you my children learned and still show respect to animals. One of them is 43 today. Blessings for Many Happy Birthday's.

Happy 90th Birthday Dr. Fisher, I hope you have a wonderful day and thanks for all the TV memories with the animals.

Happy Birthday, DR. FISHER. Hope you have a wonderful day. I went to school with Kate. She was couple of years older then me at FWP. I remember you coming to the multi purpose room and bringing the animals from the zoo. Those were some great times being able to touch the animals and being able to see them up so close.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher!! I grew up on a beef cattle/various other critter farm in Northwest Indiana so I always loved when you would show farm animals to the kids from the city. I also learned so much about other animals from your show Ark in the Park. Animals were my life and I sponged up every bit of information you shared. Thank you so much for all the work, time and enthusiasm that you put into the zoo and the show. You've been a wonderful teacher to us all. Happy Birthday! Sandy Matter

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher Best Wishes Alway from Your Friends Cigar John Strangaritch, Former Lincoln Park Zookeeper for 30 Plus Years and Ed Yankoe THE BEST HOOFSTOCK TEAM!!!!

Just read your rely for Dr. Fisher's 90th Birthday. I worked as a zoo leader there in 1963-65 I may remember you. My name was Terry Kucinski is was around 15 when I starting working as a volunteer there. I worked with Pat Sass, Pat Dorr (Samarco) Susie Rhodes, and Marge Seymour. I also knew Tony Martinez, Dick Richer, Roy Smith, Dick Sloan and others. I am 63 now and living in WI near the Dells.

Just want to talk about old times at LPZ


I am Marge Seymour's nephew. I thought you might like to know that lung cancer took her life on 16 Nov 2012. My sister and I brought her out to Puyallup, WA almost 3 years ago to have her closer to family during her last years. At the time, she was told that she had less than 18 months to live. Her stubborn will helped her go way past the time limit set by the doctors. While she was here in Washington, she lived in a retirement home in the room next to her older sister, Ruth Cook. We lost Mom in July, and now, Marge.

Thank you Mr. Cook. I work with your aunt when I was 15 years old. She was also a hard worker and a great animal lover. She loved to take care of her baby animals and nurse them to be independent aduluts.\

I sorry to hear about her death. I keep in contact with Pat Sass here in WI.

Love to hear more about your aunt.

Terry Dalla Valle

That's sad news, Mike, but thank you for sharing it.

Happy Birthday Dr. Fisher My hubby and I grew up with you and both me and my hubby started singing the song to the your show that you and Ray Rayner had at the beginning of the show. Thanks for wonderful memories and making our childhood such a happy place - we love animals - and you helped us to understand and want to learn all about them. Thank you for being CHICAGO's one and only. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR DR. FISHER HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU Our Collie says "WOOF WOOF Dr. Fisher"

Dear Dr.Fisher Thank You for the memories and have a wonderful birthday

Loved watching you as I was growing up. You haven't changed over the years and can't believe you are 90! You look awesome! Thanks for being such a friend of the animals!!! Happy Birthday!!


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