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Raymond Lee Ditmars (June 22, 1876, Newark, New Jersey – May 12, 1942 New York) was a US herpetologist, illustrator, writer and film director.
Ditmars was very interested in animals, mainly reptiles, and got his first snakes at the age of twelve. He was a mediocre student, and he preferred vacations that gave him the opportunity to look for new animals or study them at home.
The Entomology Department of the American Museum of Natural History hired Ditmars as an illustrator in 1893. He resigned in 1897 to accept a better paying job as a stenographer. In July of 1898, he began working as a reporter for the New York Times. One of his first articles led him to discover the newly founded New York Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society), which had just built a zoo in the Bronx. In July 1899 he was employed as an assistant conservationist in charge of the reptiles of the zoo. He then offered his own collection to the zoo, where he continues to be part of the permanent collection of the natural history museum, and with that began a long collaboration between Ditmars and the Bronx Zoo.He served as assistant curator from 1905 to 1925; in 1926 he was put in charge of the mammals and in 1940 of the insects and then he served as honorary curator from 1940 to 1942. With his performance he helped elevate the Bronx Zoo to world class status.
Ditmars also contributed to the establishment of antiserum centers, both in the United States and Brazil.
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