Life is a journey and not a destination….
Internationally respected for his expertise in animal research and genetics, Dr. Kurt Benirschke laid the foundation for San Diego Zoo Global to become a science-based conservation organization. During his tenure as San Diego Zoo’s Director of Research from 1975-1986, Dr. Benirschke founded the Institute for Conservation Research and the Frozen Zoo to study the cellular biology of various species to ensure against extinction. As a member of the Board of Trustees, Rolf Benirschke continues his father’s legacy and dedication to saving vulnerable species.
10 Things About Rolf Benirschke & San Diego Zoo Global
#1 I was born in Boston. At 5 years old, we moved to Hanover, NH. When I was 15, we moved to La Jolla where Dad joined the new UCSD School of Medicine.
#2 Besides working with Dad in his lab and mowing lawns, my first official job was as a box boy at Jonathan’s Supermarket in La Jolla.
#3 My favorite restaurant is Tony’s Jacal Mexican Restaurant in Solana Beach.
#4 I love birds of prey, especially owls but my wife converted me to a dog person. When our last child went to college, she got us a small cavalier bichon mix that epitomizes unconditional love.
#5 My dad passed on the importance of curiosity and to make sure to “live the day”… carpe diem.
#6 After graduating from high school, I spent a summer in South Africa attending a Wilderness Leadership School developed by Ian Player, a world renown conservationist and brother of professional golfer, Gary Player. For 2-1/2 weeks, we hiked and slept out in the wild in three different game reserves.
#7 I worked at the Umfolozi Game Reserve where they learned to dart and tranquilize white rhinos and return them to their original breeding areas. The program quite literally saved the species from extinction.
#8 I love wildlife photography and was invited by Thomas Mangelsen, one of the best nature photographers in the world, to accompany him on an expedition to photograph the California Condors that the Zoo was in the process of saving. Unfortunately, it was right before the Chargers’ training camp and I had to pass.
#9 My love for philanthropy began during my rookie season with the Chargers. I discovered I had a unique platform as an athlete, so I started “Kicks for Critters” to raise money and awareness for the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (now the Institute for Conservation Research), a place my dad started at the San Diego Zoo.
#10 San Diego Zoo Global has offered STEM-focused training to over 1,300 middle and high school science teachers from all 50 US states and 20 countries.