In Memory of Jonathan Gilmour"My favorite part of the day comes near quitting time. When the sun is going down and I’m leading the giraffes down the long paths to where they go to sleep, it’s just me and them and it’s perfect."- Jonathan Gilmour
For five years, Jonathan Gilmour worked as a zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo where he cared for animals including giraffes, zebra, bongos and camels in the Hooves & Horns department. His love of animals was not only deeply rooted within him, it was also far-reaching.
Jonathan was in Scotland working on a masters program, entitled “Applied Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare”, when he died suddenly from an embolism that had formed in his legs and migrated to his lungs. Just prior to his passing, he was preparing for a trip to Greece to work on a dolphin project with Earthwatch.
In 2002 while he was a Franklin Park Zoo zookeeper, Jonathan was honored with the title of "Ultimate Zookeeper" by Microsoft Corp. He won the title through a national contest centered on Microsoft’s “Zoo Tycoon” game. The competition focused on zookeepers' abilities and conservation platforms, as well as their skill in building the ultimate zoo within the game’s frameworks.
To exemplify Jonathan’s passion and devotion to all creatures, here is a poem taken from one of his notebooks:
“I implore you, my fellow man
- To clasp this problem at hand
- We are Threatening this great planet
- And all those living upon it
- As we conquer our doubt equating
- We are erasing many things out
- Things which will not return, no matter how hard we yearn
- No matter how long we mourn - we will leave nothing but scorn
- What cause for the reason
- This betrayal, this treason
- For the mess we have made - and the soiled ground we have laid.
- We will look forward only in demise, for the mistakes we contrived.
- And when our friends are all gone
- Our path will become ever more lonely and long
- For who then will travel beside us
- Offer comfort, or provide us
- If not for merely a reflection of our own evolution
- These things of which I speak - These friends who seem so meek– They
- Are simply all God’s creations forming each side of the equation
- The formula that is earth - in each death and each birth
- It is the animals I say -
- A vital part of our stay
- The other half of God’s game
- And yet - we are nearly one in the same.
- We are all made of hair, and of flesh and of blood-
- We all have our needs, and our wants and can all learn to love
- We’re all living creatures, with many similar features-
- And with each brand new day, it becomes more easy to say -
- That with each closer look, we must rewrite the book -
- And correct each mistake of our historical take - How could man made in heaven have such a wild, beastly bretheren?
- It was clear from the start, that we stood well apart-
- God formed man in his likeness
- We alone were the righteous.
- Yet - our stand has now changed - our perceptions rearranged
- It is our science, our knowledge, our intellect that has brought us in check -
- Man may have proved beyond a doubt, how all life came about -
- And if there is truly a God, staring straight down -
- Judging each and every creature, - whether sky, sea or ground -
- And if it is also God’s will to create from the heavens above us, then there is
- Still no denying
- That God made all creatures from the same earthly substance."
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