Walter C. "Pat" Quinn
Gulf Breeze Zoo
Gulf Breeze, Florida
Some folks start work at a zoo but Pat and some friends started the Northwest Florida Zoological Society. It was a dream to have a zoo in Pensacola. Before a zoo could be constructed he took a job as director of the San Francisco Zoo Children’s Zoo under the director Carey Baldwin. The lure of building a zoo in Pensacola brought him back to Florida and the job as director of the fledgling zoo. Soon a job as Zoological Director of Lion Country Safari is offered. Lion Country was one of the first open air drive through safari parks in the United States.
Then in 1979 a job is offered as zoo director of Benson’s Wild Animal Park. During this time period Pat traveled to Africa numerous times but he and his family had a disastrous experience at the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi Kenya. On 31 December 1980 as Pat and his family celebrated the New Year a terrorist bomb exploded in the hotel. Although Pat and his family suffered wounds others in the hotel were killed. In 1983 he returned to Pensacola to purchase land and finally build a zoo. The gates of the Gulf Breese Zoo opened in 1984.
Pat was one of founders of the Zoological Association of America. It is the second largest trade association for zoos in the United States. He retired in 2004.