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Phoenix Zoo holds tour to strengthen ties with Israel zoo

Yehuda Bar (left), director of Ramat Gan Zoo in Israel meets with Bert Castro, president of Phoenix Zoo. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

PHOENIX -- A private tour held this weekend could lead to better relations between Phoenix and a zoo in one of its partner cities.

Israeli zoo director Yehuda Bar began a two-day tour of the Phoenix Zoo on Friday. It was payback for a tour that Phoenix Zoo leaders got of the zoo in Ramat Gan, Israel, two years ago.

Phoenix Zoo President Bert Castro hopes this is the start of the two parks working together.

"I'd like to see my staff go over there and maybe help them with their education programs, have some of his staff come over here and do the same, and just really start to build some good cooperation," Castro said.

Bar saw the Phoenix's "Zoolights" on Friday night, and is now considering lighting up the Ramat Gan Zoo at night during the summer.

"July, August, and September in Israel is very hot, very humid," Bar said. "In the evening, the weather is much better. So, maybe, people will come."

Castro and Bar are holding meetings to plan future areas of cooperation.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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