Saturday, November 8, 2003

Zoo memorabilia captivates keeper

Prized possessions

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Lisa Potter's collection includes 200 postcards, six maps and dozens of guidebooks.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
Who: Lisa Potter, 34, a primate keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

On display: Her collection of Cincinnati Zoo ephemera, including 200 postcards, six maps and a dozen guidebooks, dating to 1926.

Where: The postcards are kept in a binder and the maps and guidebooks are stored in a filing cabinet in the Loveland home she shares with her husband, Greg, a cat, two dogs and a boa constrictor.

Lovebirds: Potter's interest in zoo memorabilia began when she and her husband were on their honeymoon near Dover, Ohio. They were browsing in an antiques shop when a zoo item caught her eye.

"I can't remember what the first item was," she says, "but it must have been a postcard."

Childhood dream: The Cincinnati Zoo is a lifetime passion for Potter. She began taking classes there as a child, volunteered in various capacities and worked in the Children's Zoo while majoring in (surprise!) zoology at Miami University. She's been a full-time employee for 10 years.

Searching safari: Potter finds most of her Cincinnati Zoo collectibles in antiques stores, but she also buys on eBay. The majority of her purchases cost about $1; she sometimes pays $7-$8.

Window to the past: "What I enjoy most about my collection is it allows me to see how the zoo has changed and evolved through the years. It's just so neat to look at everything and say, 'This is how the zoo used to be.' " Potter loves seeing advertising promoting things like "The New Apehouse!" and "The New Polar Bear Grotto With No Bars!"

Happy days: "I have a lot of postcards of Suzie the Gorilla," Potter says. "She was a very popular attraction at the zoo back in the 1940s. On the cards she is posed sitting at her little table, hugging her keeper and standing on her hind legs while wearing a Cincinnati Reds cap and holding a baseball bat."

Potter is looking for a complete fold-out set of postcards from the 1970s. They commemorate the birth of gorillas Sam and Samantha. She has four of them, but they have been perforated.

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold c/o The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202: e-mail: Please include a daytime, weekday phone number.

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