Growing with Gorillas

Growing with Gorillas

As a child, Donna Mobbs remembers leaning over the rails of the zoo’s lion exhibit and watching her shoe fall in. It was rescued by a keeper, and then she knew she would work at the zoo someday. Donna was right.

In 1984, she saw a newspaper ad for the zoo director’s secretary. “I instantaneously knew that was my job–but I didn’t get an interview. I called and said, ‘You don’t understand, you’ve hired the wrong person—that’s the job I’m supposed to have.’ I was adamant,” Donna said. “Lo and behold, that person didn’t last, and I was hired.”

Now, Donna is nearing the end of her 35-year career as the zoo’s executive assistant, working under five different zoo directors. She’s seen the zoo undergo dramatic changes. “We were a small zoo in serious financial trouble until the sales tax passed. I’ve watched us grow into this beautiful facility. Now, we are on track to be at the level of San Diego.”

Unsurprisingly, Donna has encountered animals in close, personal ways—but it’s the gorillas that have sto