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Dianna Jane Frisch
Dianna Jane Frisch 1/9/2012
Place of birth: Norwalk, Ohio
Dianna J. Frisch, 62, of Upper Arlington, Ohio, passed away the morning of January 9, 2012 at Kobacker House in Columbus, Ohio. She bravely battled ovarian cancer for seven years. Dianna was born in Norwalk, Ohio on July 15, 1949. She graduated from St. Paul High School in Norwalk and completed her business degree at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Dianna was interested in animals from a very young age and always asked her parents to purchase a monkey for her. She received a small stuffed monkey named "Sydney" and had to make do. That would change when Dianna began her career at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1971. It was her dream job, working in the Children's Zoo in the beginning, then working with Jack Hanna with "Bud", the African forest elephant and finally her great love, the western lowland gorillas. Dianna was devoted to workers' rights and during the early part of her career she was instrumental in establishing the AFSCME chapter at the zoo. She was voted President of the Union and held that position for many years and was known as "Norma Rae". As her career progressed, she became a widely respected expert in the care and husbandry of gorillas in the captive environment and was promoted to Head Keeper – Great Apes. During her tenure at the Zoo, she was responsible for the re-design of the gorilla habitat and saw the birth of the twin gorillas. Having met and spent time with Dian Fossey, the noted primatologist, Dianna developed the new zoo gorilla program with emphasis on gorillas living in family groups and this led to the first mother-reared baby gorilla in captivity. Dianna was instrumental in bringing gorilla keepers from around the world together in Columbus for the first Gorilla Workshop. She also gathered information from zoos globally in order to publish the first animal enrichment manual for captive animals in the zoo environment. Later in her career, her focus turned toward the development of the bonobo breeding program which produced the first twin bonobos born in captivity. Dianna was published in the Who's Who of World Zoos, among others and appeared in several National Geographic Explorer specials, including "The Urban Gorilla", an Allison Argo film. Dianna retired from the Zoo in 1996. After her retirement Dianna continued to give back to the community by volunteering with Life Care Alliance Meals on Wheels program. She was an inspiration to her co-workers and the many volunteers and Docents at the Zoo. Her love for animals was extraordinary and she dedicated her life to making the world a better place for all species, human and animal. Dianna is preceded in death by her parents, John Raymond Frisch and Ethel Genevieve Vogus Frisch of Leesburg, Florida and Columbus, Ohio. She is survived by her life partner of twenty years, Cynda Frisch-Simmons of Upper Arlington, Ohio; one brother, John Allen Frisch (Mickey) of Norwalk, Ohio; one sister, Sharri A. Osburn of Columbus, Ohio; two nieces, Aimee Frisch Baer (Stan) of Millsbury, Ohio and Wendy Frisch (Chris) of Norwalk, Ohio; one nephew, Ray A. Osburn (Kaycie) of Columbus, Ohio; one great-nephew, Elias Johnathan Osburn. A memorial service was held at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on January 21, 2012, with Jack Hanna delivering the eulogy.