Masthead Image


Community News
In Memoriam - Diane Fusco
January 8, 2015

The marine mammal community is mourning the loss of a great woman, dear friend, colleague, mentor and animal advocate; Diane Fusco. Diane passed away on January 8, 2015.

Dister, as many of her friends called her, dedicated her professional career and much of her personal life to the animals in her care. She put the animals first, no matter what, no matter when.  You could see and hear her love for the animals in every session, in every bucket scrubbed, with every decision she made.

Diane began her career at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York as an animal care technician providing animal care for the Zoo’s entire collection. A colleague of Diane’s from her days at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo shares the following statement, “Even though I was working as a temporary education employee, Diane found time to “show me the ropes” in animal care, just as she found time in animal care for others who continue in animal care in zoos to this day.” The animal’s well-being was truly Diane’s ultimate focus.

During her time at Syracuse, she worked with a variety of animals, including a skunk named “Pepe”, a gray fox named “Lucky” and an elephant named “Siri” who is still alive and contributing to reproduction research to this day. Diane fondly spoke of the wolves and elephants from her time in Syracuse, but if those that worked with her had to venture a guess, it was the rehabilitation program of native animals that was her favorite. From rabbits and squirrels to pronghorns and eagles…Diane loved them all!

Diane brought that passion to the Minnesota Zoo where she began working in August of 1977, one year before the zoo opened. She initially worked as a quarantine keeper helping to welcome animals to the zoo and acclimate them to their new home. Over her 38-year tenure at the Minnesota Zoo, Diane’s focus was the marine mammal collection working as a Zookeeper, a Zoologist, and for the past many years as Supervisor of the Marine Mammal Department.  Diane cared for many animals at the Minnesota Zoo including birds, harbor seals, dolphins, and sea otters but she always kept a special place in her heart reserved for beluga whales. She often expressed her fondness for the whales in referencing them as “The Good Animals!” If you had the good fortune to work with Diane, you would appreciate the irony of that last statement knowing that she considered each and every animal in her care as the good animals.

Diane was a long time member of IMATA and greatly enjoyed her collaborations with colleagues. She was also the force behind the Minnesota Zoo’s dolphin program collaborating in a multi-facility bottlenose dolphin-breeding consortium. She was an advocate of zoos and aquariums working together to enhance breeding efforts and creating the best social situations possible for the dolphins. Today, Diane’s dolphin legacy lives on in 50-year-old Semo who is living at Six Flags, Vallejo and Semo’s 1-year-old grandson Magic who is being cared for at the Brookfield Zoo!

Over her long career Diane touched many lives of those furred, feathered, finned, flippered and footed.  The respect and love she receives is immeasurable.  She will be forever remembered for her love and dedication to the many animals within her care; for her laughter, friendship and commitment to so many friends and family. The footsteps she has left has left behind have paved the way for the future of animal care.  Thank you Diane.

Go Back »