Thursday, September 30, 2004

Barry N. Wakeman was Zoo denizen

Naturalist, animal expert, adventurer

By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer

PIERCE TWP. - Barry Noble Wakeman knew how to catch a penguin.

"You literally tackle the bird," he told the Enquirer in December 1968 upon his return from a monthlong penguin-tackling expedition to Antarctica.

His advice was to aim for the feet and to stay clear of the beak and flippers - which are powerful enough to knock a man senseless.

Mr. Wakeman returned with 16 birds to join the family of creatures at the Cincinnati Zoo, where he was director of education for 27 years.

Mr. Wakeman, a naturalist, teacher, mentor, consultant, writer and speaker, died at home Sept. 21 of undetermined causes. The Pierce Township resident was 65.

"He played a huge role in the development of our education department," said Thane Maynard, vice president of public information for the Zoo.

Mr. Wakeman "spearheaded the building of our education building in the late '70s" and was a "visionary guy that played a leadership role in the days of building up what good education could be. He was a great naturalist, a great adventurer - a grizzly bear of a guy."

Born in Glenridge, N.J., in 1939, Mr. Wakeman spent his youth "rambling through the woods and meadows of his family home in Sparta," his wife, Patricia McNeil Wakeman, said. "As a child with learning disabilities, his greatest love was connecting with the wildlife he found there and he ultimately grew into a man who became a living encyclopedia of the natural world."

He received a bachelor's degree in biology from Colgate University and a master's in botany from Indiana University. He joined the Peace Corps and went to Africa, where he taught biology, researched native animals and established a small zoo in Uganda.

After his return, he worked as scientific curator at the Oklahoma City Zoo. He became a zoologist at the Cincinnati Zoo in February 1968. That fall he was selected by the National Science Foundation to join a group of 250 scientists to conduct research at the South Pole. His mission was to hand-pick penguins and bring them back to Cincinnati. He was dropped by helicopter into the penguins' nesting area.

He planted a Cincinnati Zoo flag at the South Pole.

Mr. Wakeman conducted weekly summer programs for young people and was apt to deliver lectures with a snake around his shoulders or a hawk perched on his arm.

The year he arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo, he established the Junior Zoologists Club, an educational program for 12- to 16-year-olds, which was copied by zoos around the world.

Mr. Wakeman was appointed director of education and public relations director for the zoo in 1974.

He designed zoo exhibits and interpretive and interactive signs, trained volunteers, lectured and led animal collecting expeditions and trips around the world.

After he retired from the zoo in the mid-1990s, Mr. Wakeman became director of the Nature Academy, for which he helped to create "Windows to the Wild," an education program for Greater Cincinnati elementary schools.

He also worked with the Highlands Nature Sanctuary inHighlands County.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Barry N. Wakeman Jr. and Robert David Hunter Wakeman, both of Santa Fe, N.M.; two daughters, Amy Arin Wakeman of Northside and Elisabeth Brooke Wakeman of Columbia Tusculum; stepchildren, Scott Lothmann of Terrace Park and Sarah Lothmann of Cincinnati; and four grandchildren.

A memorial service is 1 p.m. Fridayat Spring Grove Cemetery.

Memorials: Highland Nature Sanctuary, 7629 Cave Road, Bainbridge, OH 45612.


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