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Longtime Hogle Zoo director, who oversaw growth and years of controversy, dies

Farnsworth’s 33 years as zoo director covered some of the biggest, and most controversial, developments at the zoo. When he retired in 1997, he was the longest serving zoo director in the nation.

He was hired as an animal keeper in 1953 and became director in 1964 after the previous director, Gerald deBary, was fatally bitten by a puff adder, according to a timeline on Hogle Zoo’s website. (The zoo, originally in Liberty Park, moved in 1931 to 50 acres on Sunnyside Avenue donated by Mr. and Mrs. James A. Hogle.)

In the decades that followed, the zoo was transformed from a display for exotic animals in cages to an ever-growing collection of habitats for endangered species.