Ditmars, Raymond

Ditmars, Raymond (Lee)

(1876–1942) herpetologist; born in Newark, N.J. Rather than pursuing his parents' wish that he attend West Point, he became assistant curator of entomology at the American Museum of Natural History (1893–98), where he began his personal collection of snakes from around the world. After serving as a court reporter for the New York Times (1898–99), he became curator of reptiles at the New York Zoological Park (Bronx Zoo) (1899–1920), then took charge of the zoo's mammals (1910–42). He began lecturing in New York City schools in 1896; from 1910 on he supplemented his lectures with educational movies on animal behavior made in his own home studio. In later years he became interested in the medical uses of snake venom and the behavior of vampire bats. A general naturalist, field explorer, and popularist for reptiles, he wrote many books on reptiles, zoology, and natural science.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.