(KYTX) - Tyler's Caldwell Zoo is celebrating 60 years this year at it present location. As J.B. Smith reports in J.B.'s Journal,the zoo is also observing another milestone.
"It's a lot more complex than it was 50 years ago."Hayes Caldwell has seen many changes since he began working at the zoo in 1963.
"I actually started when I was 14 years old, first year I worked out here my mother drove me to work everyday,probably more to get me out of the house than anything else."
"I say I was a duck wrangler to start with.""My job was to herd the ducks up the slide reach out for some feed,go down the slide."
Hayes remembers when the zoo started with a few animals in the backyard of his uncle D.K.Caldwell.
This photograph shows Hayes and his sisterHarriet at the current zoo before it was developed.
"Hayes, 50 years is one heck of a long time for one occupation…..I knew early on I wanted to work in zoos, discovered early on I wanted to work in this zoo, had opportunity ,as one of my colleagues said one time this is not a trade, it's a lifestyle.
A calling? Absolutely.He's proud of all of the expansions over the years and the zoo's global role in helping keep some animals alive.
"I know the bears exhibit is very special to you? We built this exhibit with our staff three years ago, fortunate to have black bears,first time in 40 years to have bears,well received by our visitors."
"Today the Caldwell Zoo has over 2000 animals, one ofHayes'favorites, the giraffe."
"They look like they were created by committee."
"As big as they are they're graceful, handsome to look at."
Team members are like family to him.
"The thing I'm most proud of, the staff we have here, the wonderful job they do each and everyday."
A Caldwell legacy he hopes will continue.
"I've done this all my life, my goal is to be able to once I leave here for the zoo to be in good hands, functioning well on into the future."
For CBS 19,I'm J.B.Smith and that's my story.
The original zoo was located in the Tyler backyard-- of D.K.Caldwell on Bonner Street and moved to its present location in 1953.