OBITUARIES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:

Sonia Cortis, 83, died in her sleep on December 12. Born in
Yalta, daughter of a diplomat, she became a successful cabaret singer.
She sang from her teens until the early 1960s and performed with Edith
Piaff and for royalty. In her later years, this dedicated friend of all animals
worked as a waitress and restaurant manager, spreading the good
word to staff and customers. And with her bullhorn, the former
chanteuse energized activists every weekend for 78 weeks in a campaign
to end the cat sex experiments at the American Museum of Natural
History, the first public protest successful in saving animals from suffering
in a U.S. laboratory. She dedicated her life to helping humans and
animals, and left her body to science. We’ll miss her.
––Henry Spira


William “Catman” Post, 50, so named for his cat rescue work
as an inmate at the Leavenworth federal penitentiary, on November 8
robbed a bank in Lenexa, Kansas; committed two carjackings and kidnappings
during the next two days; shot it out with two police officers on
November 10, wounding one; and shot himself with his last bullet. The
son of a Navy officer, Post at age 8 stole a car. He spent 41 of the next
42 years behind bars. He told Pete Earley, author of The Hot House, a
book about Leavenworth, that a previous shootout with police was “abolutely,
totally, the most beautiful experience in my life.” At
Leavenworth, Post earned a degree in psychology, and devoted himself
to feeding stray cats and placing their kittens. When a warden tried to
stop him, Post wrote to Gary and Lisa Silverglat, cofounders of
M’Shoogy’s Animal Rescue sanctuary in Savanah, Missouri, who took
the situation to the media. The cat work resumed. Finishing a 23-year
term for bank robbery in February 1995, Post became a live-in
M’Shoogy’s staffer in April. He reportedly found a girlfriend and
planned to marry. On November 5 the Associated Press syndicated an
article about M’Shoogy’s, including mention of Post’s turnaround. Three
days later, the turnaround ended.

Miriam Walmsley Cooper, 59, a fundraiser credited by the
New Orleans T i m e s – P i c a y u n e with helping “convert the Audubon Zoo
from an animal ghetto into one of the nation’s most acclaimed zoos,” died
October 18 of cancer at her home in Point Clear, Alabama. Audubon
Institute president Ron Forman said in tribute, “The Aquarium of the
Americas, the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center––all
of the things we built would not be there without her.”

Frederick Ulmer Jr., 79, died September 13 at a nursing home
in Germantown, Pennsylvania. ANIMAL PEOPLE regrets misplacing
his obituary, originally slated for our October edition. An uncle took
Ulmer to the Philadelphia Zoo as a preschooler. He was never far from
animals thereafter. At age 19, in 1939, Ulmer joined the Delaware
Valley Ornithological Club, maintaining membership until his death;
became assistant curator of mammals for the Philadelphia Academy of
Natural Sciences; and joined the Academy staff on a collecting expedition
to Sumatra and Indonesia. World War II duty with Army hospital units
ended Ulmer’s formal education. In 1947, after discharge, Ulmer took a
group of animals from the London Zoo to the Philadelphia Zoo, then
became the Philadelphia Zoo’s mammal curator. He supervised the first
cheetah births in captivity in 1956 and 1957, and in 1959 and 1965 pioneered
bottle-rearing polar bears whose mothers had rejected them. As
author of more than 100 published articles on wildlife, Ulmer was honored
by colleagues by having his name included in the scientific names of
four newly discovered species. Ulmer returned to the Academy of Natural
Sciences in the mid-1970s, then post-retirement spent eight years there as
a volunteer, ended only by health failure in April 1995

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