by Jim Schnormeier, Reid Park Zoo General Curator
A wise man once told me “a good Army runs off of its lieutenants.” Even though I was not in the military, and I am not that familiar with its ranking system, I did understand what he was saying. If you correlate lieutenants to Area Supervisors at a Zoo it is a very accurate statement. Any good organization that has excellent supervisors to rely on will be successful and this is the case for Reid Park Zoo.
The Zoo has three Zoo Area Supervisors, or lieutenants: Adam Ramsey, Sue Tygielski, and Leslie Waters. These are three extraordinary people. They are extremely dedicated to the animal collection and to Reid Park Zoo. They are the direct supervisors of a team that works for the care and safety of the Zoo’s animals 365 days a year. These supervisors have to mentor, evaluate, and even at times console staff. They have to understand management direction and be able to interpret it to their teams. They are the first ones to step up to take care of a matter that might mean staying at the Zoo far beyond their normal working hours. Spending the night to insure an animal’s health and safety is very much a reality for them. They regularly sacrifice their personal lives for the sake of the Zoo’s animals. They also set an example for their teams by educating and inspiring Zoo guests at every opportunity. This “above and beyond” attitude insures the success of the zoo and the welfare of the animals.
Each one of these supervisors brings a unique quality to the zoo which contributes to the Zoo’s overall excellence. They are usually not in the spotlight but without them there would be no spotlight. They are professional but they also have a strong emotional bond to the animals they care for. They are always looking for opportunities to better themselves professionally which in turn betters the Zoo. They are inventive, creative and resourceful when resources are minimal. They want Reid Park Zoo to shine above all.
As the curator for Reid Park Zoo my success and the Zoo’s is directly related to the supervisors and their ability to do great work. This commitment to the Zoo can mistakenly be thought of as the norm and be taken for granted. I continuously remind myself of the commitment the Zoo Area Supervisors put into their work and where we would be without them. So here is to the lieutenants, the Zoo is a better place thanks to them.