What a Zoo!

We were assigned by Philadelphia Magazine to photograph Bill Donaldson the former director of the Philadelphia Zoo. The art director Ken Newbaker and I talked about the picture and he requested that I make sure and get an animal or two in the picture.

I called the zoo office and was shocked when Bill Donaldson answered his own phone. We set up an appointment for a few days later and he promised me that he would have "a few animals in the office for me to choose from".

When I arrived at the Zoo I met Bill in his office and he already had an assortment of animals sitting on the floor. Included in the group were snakes, birds, a kangaroo and an alligator. We decided that the easiest to work with as well as the most graphic combination of animals would be the snake and the cockatiel.

After the lighting was set up and the technical issues had been addressed Bill sat down with the bird on his shoulder and the snake wrapped around his arm. A few minutes into the shoot the phone rang and it was another zoo director calling form Sri Lanka. Bill and he were only talking for a few moments when the snake looked up and saw the bird. The bird then looked down and saw the snake. The snake headed for the bird and the bird panicked and began running back and forth on Donaldson's shoulder flapping his wings. Feathers were flying every where and the bird dropped a load on Donaldson's shoulder. I started laughing and then Donaldson looked at his shoulder with the bird droppings and he started laughing so hard that he dropped the phone. In the background as the phone was swinging back and forth you could hear the other man on the phone saying, "Meester Doonaldson are you OK?"