Big Plans for the Future
As the San Diego Zoo headed into its seventh decade, the country seemed eager to move on from social struggles and economic recession. A shift in attitude led to what some called the “me generation,” when Ronald Reagan was president, “yuppies” sought and achieved financial success, and bigger was definitely better. It was the era of the VCR, the music video, the generation that “wanted their MTV,” pop stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna, and blockbuster movies like E.T. and Raiders of the Lost Ark. At the Zoo, big things were happening as well. A tortoise named Diego returned home to help save his species; the Arabian oryx had recovered enough to be reintroduced to its native habitat; and the San Diego Zoo hosted two conferences on the breeding of endangered species and sustainability in zoos. Perhaps most exciting of all, the Zoo and the Wild Animal Park saw the first births and hatchings in any zoo of more than a dozen endangered species. The preservation and reproduction of endangered animals were now the concern of conservationists around the world, and it was clear that international efforts to save wildlife and wild lands, including cooperation between zoos and between nations, would be the key to long-term success. And the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park were in the position to become leaders in those efforts.