22 December 2008

"The Zoo Lady" at Greenwood Memorial Park

Take a look at this gravestone - is a gorilla buried here?

This gravestone stands in the Masonic Place section of the historical portion of Greenwood Memorial Park in San Diego. Belle Benchley (1882-1972) is buried in this grave. The Historical Walking Tour information about this grave says:

"Note the unusual monument with the gorilla's head on it. Belle Benchley, a former schoolteacher who began work in midlife for the [San Diego] Zoo, was known as "The Zoo Lady." She helped transform the zoological gardens into the world-famous San Diego Zoo that we enjoy today. She was especially concerned with improving the medical care and simple comforts of the Zoo inhabitants. She held the position of San Diego Zoo Director Emeritus until she died at the age of ninety-one years."

A biography of Belle Benchley is available on the San Diego Historical Society site here.

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