Nancy “Safari Jane™” Tetzlaff
Still Active in Naples, Florida
Although the last couple decades on corporate, nonprofit, and museum boards as well as state tourism committees have kept her in business attire, Nancy Jane Tetzlaff has spent the majority of her life in khakis.
Together with her husband, Lawrence "Jungle Larry™" Tetzlaff, she has trekked to some of the earth's remote outposts. Nancy traveled the jungles and rivers of South America to photograph the landscapes and their inhabitants. Along with Larry, she collected animals to be used in educational presentations and as breeding stock for American zoos. Her time in West Africa included both lush rainforests and dusty roads. In Central and South America, the Caribbean, or Africa, Larry's 16mm motion picture cameras rolled while Nancy's 35mm Nikon caneras recorded sights to show fascinated audiences back home in the states.
Those early years with Larry were occupied with learning his lifetime of animal wisdom. From administrative reports to cleaning duties, Nancy Jane worked with her husband in all facets of the zoo. So while Larry was in Australia or East Africa, she ran zoo operations back home. From anteaters to zebras, Nancy Jane has cared for a variety of extraordinary creatures. Although her love for all animals is evident, her favorites are the cats without a doubt. Never declawed or defanged, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, jaguars, tigers, servals, and lions have all been part of her life.
Nancy was also a great supporter of women joining the zoological field. When she began her career, only a handful of women were employed in the field working with animals. From her own experience, she knew women were capable of handling the challenges of the work and hired many young women at both their Cedar Point and Naples Zoo facilities. Today many zoos - including Naples Zoo - employ a majority of women in the keeper departments.
Following Larry's death in 1984, she faithfully continued zoo operations providing the direction and foundation for today's nationally accredited wildlife institution. And both sons are with her in those efforts. In 1994, the Tetzlaffs closed their facility inside Cedar Point to focus on bringing the Naples facility. Eldest son David has followed in his father's footsteps presenting shows and overseeing the zoological collection as Zoo Director. Their youngest son Tim serves as Director of Conservation and Communications from his office in Ohio and travels to Naples throughout the year.
Today, Nancy Jane enjoys Naples life with husband Robert C. Berens. Although officially retired, she attends a variety of Naples Zoo activities and personally presents the Lawrence and Nancy Jane Tetzlaff Distinguished Conservation Award at its ZOObilee fundraising event.