Monday, November 12, 2007


Jerry Fecht - a Lion Cub and Teacher Gary Wilson

In the spring of 1996, Gary Wilson, then director of America's Teaching Zoo at moorpark College, brought a new lion cub to be introduced to Jerry Fecht and his colleague Karen Whitaker. Jerry and Karen had recently renamed the animal compound America's Teaching Zoo to help the zoo gain more public support (It worked.)
Not to pass an opportunity by, Jerry and Karen put together an international "Name the Baby Lion" contest for the Boys and Girls Clubs. The contest gave Gary Wilson and the zoo-crew the opportunity to teach thousands of children about wild and domestic cats. Thousands of entries poured into Anchor Education. The winner was a little girl in Phoenix, Arizona who named the quickly growing cat, "Savannah". The children drew wonderful pictures to support their entries and the college displayed them, so that every child could say that her or his art had been displayed in a real art gallery.
Savannah was assigned to a second year student in the Exotic Animal Training and Management program (EAT'M). The student was responsible for Savannah's care for over twelve months.
The years later, exploring the Dominican Republic with Brother Igor Olenicoff and a gang of Phi Delt brothers, Br. Jerry McAlvey found Jerry and said, "Come on, you have to see these white tigers."
The great cats were simply wonderful. The young animal trainer brought one of the cats to a claw-tooth-proof window, and told us about the creatues. Jerry Olson asked him, where did you learn how to take care of tigers? The young fellow answered that he went to school in California. Jerry Fecht asked, "Moorpark College?" "Yes" he replied. He had been Gary Wilson's student and had been in charge of Savannah for a year.