Bernhard Grzimek is a name familiar not only to the people of Frankfurt, where it is closely connected with the zoo there; he was also a popular television personality in Germany. For Bernhard Grzimek, who was born on 24 April 1909, devised and hosted the TV classic “A Place for Animals”. In this programme, which was broadcast in the 1960s and 1970s, he presented exotic animals over 175 episodes. He was also indefatigable in promoting the cause of conservation in Africa, and collected over 15 million euros
in donations. Grzimek discovered his love of animals and nature very early on in life. As a ten-
old, he began breeding hens in his parents’ garden. He financed his zoology and veterinary studies by running a chicken farm and a market garden. As a vet, he focused mainly on researching animal behaviour. Shortly before the end of the Second World War
, Bernhard Grzimek came to Frankfurt am Main. The sight of the devastated Frankfurt Zoo transformed his life. Grzimek looked after the animals and worked towards rebuilding the zoo. On 1 May 1945 he was made zoo director. To increase the number of animals in the zoo and to improve their living conditions, Grzimek went on many field trips throughout the world.
Bernhard Grzimek visits the Kabalega National Park in Uganda in 1980.
© AP Photos
He was particularly fascinated by the nature and wildlife in Africa. He wrote about his impressions in the book “No Place for Wild Animals”, which was even filmed by Walt Disney. In the “Flying Zebra”, a single-
motor plane painted with zebra stripes, he counted game populations in Africa and observed animal migrations. The film “Serengeti Shall Not Die” was the result of these research activities, and even won an Oscar in 1959. Bernhard Grzimek devoted all his energy to the conservation of wildlife and nature: as a zoo director (until 1974), film maker, author (“Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia”), television host, politician and president of the Frankfurt Zoological Society. Grzimek died on 13 March 1987 while watching a circus performance.
* In the 1970s, he was the Federal Commissioner for Nature Conservation. However, he gave up this post when he realised that he could not achieve much as a politician.