George Rabb (1930–2017) was President Emeritus of the Chicago Zoological Society and served as Brookfield Zoo’s Director from 1976 until 2003. Dr. Rabb received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his bachelor’s degree is from the College of Charleston, South Carolina.
He joined Brookfield Zoo in 1956 as curator of research, a then novel position, and helped redevelop the field of animal behavior with colleagues at the University of Chicago. Dr. Rabb created the Zoo’s Education Department, and he innovated in the use of naturalistic exhibitry to provide visitors with environmental immersion experiences throughout the Zoo. Later, under his direction, the Zoo pioneered a new approach to help children develop caring attitudes towards nature as part of the Zoo’s conservation ethos and operations. In 1985, he and the Chicago Zoological Society helped found the Society for Conservation Biology and he served on its original board of governors. From 1989 to 1996 he was Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, and he helped build it into the largest scientific network for species conservation in the world. He subsequently served on its Sustainable Use Specialist Group.
In 1990, he established SSC’s Declining Amphibian Population Task Force to determine the causes of sudden declines and extinctions around the world. In 1996, Dr. Rabb helped found and is still active in Chicago Wilderness, a multi-organizational alliance to maintain the exceptional biological diversity of the metropolitan region, and he served as President of Chicago Wilderness Magazine until 2008. He has fostered the development of the field of conservation psychology and has continued to work with colleagues internationally on the global amphibian conservation crisis. He serves on the boards of Defenders of Wildlife and the Australian Landscape Trust, and he continues affiliations with the boards of the Illinois State Museum and the Field Museum.
Contributions to Humans & Nature:
Articles in Minding Nature:
Questions for a Resilient Future responses:
- The Chicago Zoological Society
Explore the work of the Chicago Zoological Society and learn about the Brookfield Zoo.