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Wild on the Rocks: Secrets of Zoo Atlanta

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Date and time
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leon Horton and Cary Burgess of Zoo Atlanta discuss true stories and urban legend about the Zoo with AJC staff writer Mark Davis.

Charles Horton has served at Zoo Atlanta for a remarkable 38 years, beginning in 1970 as a hoofstock keeper. Although his prior animal care experience also includes work with felines, bears, sea lions and birds of prey, the overwhelming majority of his years at the Zoo have been spent devoted to primates, particularly gorillas. Horton is best known as the closest human companion of the legendary late Willie B., who passed away in 2000. As Curator of Primates, Horton now supervises the care of Zoo Atlanta’s extensive primate collection, which includes western lowland gorillas, Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, drills, golden lion tamarins, guenons and lemurs.
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Cary S. Burgess, CPP, Senior Vice President of Operations, has been a leader at Zoo Atlanta for over 20 years. Prior to joining the zoo staff as Operations Manager in May 1988, Cary served as Director of Transportation and Parking Operations and Special Events Logistical and Operations Coordinator for Friends of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. At Zoo Atlanta, Cary oversees all aspects of the logistical planning and management of the Zoo’s Operations and Guest Services functions. In his role as Senior Vice President, Cary has led numerous initiatives improving net revenue, and the quality of guest services and the overall visitor experience. He continues to be instrumental in providing a safe, clean and friendly environment for all zoo visitors and staff. Cary serves as the Chair of the Diversity Committee, and the Immediate past Chair of the Business Operations Committee, both of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He is also a Certified Protection Professional with the American Society for Industrial Security, ASIS, and is the Immediate past Chair of the Cultural Properties Protection Organization of Georgia. Cary is also an advisor to the American Association of Museum’s (AAM) Diversity Counsel, and a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, IAAPA A lifelong supporter of wildlife with over 28 years spent in the zoo community, Cary has led zoo-sponsored photographic adventures to Kenya/Tanzania, and Antarctica. Cary is an avid sports fan who knows his way around a tennis court.
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Mark Davis is a staff writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, where he has worked for seven years. He has written about everything from alligators to zebras, with a lot of other stuff -- mayhem, humor, tragedy -- in-between. A native of North Carolina, Davis lives with his family in Atlanta's Grant Park community.
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