Sacramento Zoo Director Mary Healy Remembered
She had been on vacation with her husband off the coast of South America, traveling to the Galapagos Islands, when she suffered a brain aneurysm, followed by a fatal heart attack. He was only 61 years old.
On Saturday, August 9, I was working dayside at KCRA. Our other dayside reporters were covering breaking news and I was asked if I could “turn” a news story about the reaction at the Sacramento Zoo to Mary Healy’s passing.
As a note of background: Mary came to the Sacramento Zoo in 1999 after it had been going through a rough period, amid allegations of the animals not being treated properly. Mary, who had started her career as a bird keeper, had been brought into reshape the zoo, which she did with great success. In the 15 years since, the Sacramento Zoo has been essentially re-imagined, is more successful, and has greater public support then ever before. Mary Healy was greatly responsible for this. The news of her passing was quite an emotional shock, both for the people who work at the zoo as well as across the city.
So with this in mind, being asked to do a news story about the reaction to the passing of such a beloved figure, I was initially quite intimidated. But, as I’ve stated several times in the past on this site, when I’m asked to do a reporter-photographer story I accept it as a challenge. This story was the most singularly challenging story I’ve ever done because it came with so much responsibility.
I must say that the staff of the Sacramento Zoo were fantastic and very open and eager to share their memories, as well as their strong and warm feelings for Mary. For this I was extremely grateful.
Mary Healy seems to have been an extraordinary person who came to the zoo at a time when she was needed most. She will be greatly missed.