OBITUARIES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1997:

William “Sonny” Allen, 53, vice
president and general curator of Marine
World Africa USA, died after a brief illness
on September 2 in Vallejo, California. As a
psychology student pursuing a career in helping
the mentally handicapped, Allen studied
operant conditioning. “After serving in the
military,” his professional biography stated,
“Sonny became a diver for the Philadelphia
Aquarama, 1964-1968, and started applying
his knowledge of psychology to sick and
injured pilot whales and dolphins. He trained
these animals to allow medical procedures to
be performed on them without the use of
restraints.” Allen began a longtime close
association with the orca Yaka shortly after
becoming head trainer of marine mammals
for Marine World in 1969, just before her
arrival from Puget Sound. He briefly left
Marine World in mid-1974 to become head
trainer at the New England Aquarium, but
returned as director of marine mammals later
that year. Allen was a founding member of
the International Marine Animal Trainers
Association. Also a seventh degree Kempo
Karate black belt, Allen taught self-defense
for more than 30 years, and throughout his
life volunteered for organizations helping
disturbed children and battered women.

Kevin Berrey, 29, and Holly
Berrey, 30, trying to get home to Widefield,
Colorado, to feed and walk their dogs, froze
to death in their four-wheel-drive truck during
the blizzard of October 25-26, after becoming
stranded beneath a snowdrift in
Cottonwood Grove, just a half mile away.
Unaware of their location, the lightly dressed
Berreys were unable to direct rescuers to
them before their cell telephone failed, about
18 hours after they called the hosts of a party
they had attended in north Colorado Springs
to advise other guests to stay overnight.
Their remains were found more than 12 hours
later. The blizzard also killed at least 24,000
cattle and took a huge toll on wildlife.

Francine Katzenbogen, 51,
remembered by The New York Times as “a
mainstay of several animal care agencies both
as volunteer and philanthropist,” died
October 30 at home in Studio City,
California, of chronic asthma aggravated by
a strong allergic reaction to her own 20 cats.
Katzenbogen, her parents, and her brother
were all active cat rescuers in Canarsie, New
York, when in 1988 she won a $7 million
New York State Lottery jackpot with her
first-ever ticket purchase. After her mother
and brother died in 1992, she and her father
Irving relocated to California, where she prevailed
against 50 neighbors who opposed her
renovation of a two-story garage into a
$100,000 home for the cats. “If I want to
spend my money to take care of my cats,
which are my family, I don’t think it’s anybody’s
business,” Katzenbogen told The Los
Angeles Times. After her death, her cats
were reportedly placed in new homes by
friends also involved in humane work.

Yaka, 32, born in Puget Sound
but captured for Marine World Africa USA in
1969, died from a severe fungal infection of
her sinuses combined with pneumonia on
October 29. She was the third-oldest orca in
captivity. She last performed on August 2,
when her condition became evident and she
was started on a $1,000-a-day course of treatment
that continued for the last 89 days of her
life. The infection, however, proved drugresistant,
and her condition markedly deteriorated
following the September 2 death of her
longtime trainer, William “Sonny” Allen.
“Her training and her cooperative nature really
made her a champion during her veterinary
care,” remembered Marine World spokesperson
Jeff Jouett. “She allowed us to take blood
samples almost daily, and put endoscopes
down her blowhole, while she patiently waited
at the side of the pool.” The first orca to
die at Marine World in 17 years, Yaka was
survived by Vigga, 22, an Icelandic orca
with whom she shared her tank for 16 years.

William G. Brigance Sr., 76, former
Sacramento court commissioner and
Superior Court judge in Sierra County,
California, died of pneumonia on October
22. Sacramento Bee staff writer Jon Engellenner
recalled that, “His proverbial 15 minutes
of fame came in 1988 when he ruled that
a potty-trained 85-pound miniature horse kept
in a North Sacramento home was not a pet
but a farm animal. He fined the animal’s
owner $189,” in a verdict held by some to be
unjustly discriminatory, but of value to people
working to discourage the breeding and
sale of pot-bellied pigs and other exotic pets.

Bulbul, 44, believed to be the oldest
western lowland gorilla in captivity, died
November 1 at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.
Bulbul and two other gorillas were brought to
Tokyo from Cameroon in 1957.

Gizmo, 9, black Labrador/
Chesapeake mix, pet of the Willian and
Theresa Wals family in Fond du Lac,
Wisconsin, was euthanized on November 2
after bone cancer treatments failed. “The dog
became a media star last summer,”
Associated Press reported, “when the Wals
children were selling their toys to raise
money so that Gizmo could undergo potentially
life-saving surgery,” which Kevin and
Kimberly Wals, 13 and 11, and four foster
children had been told the family probably
could not afford. One foster child, identified
only as Charlie, was reportedly especially
fond of Gizmo. “News coverage generated
$8,000 in donations,” AP continued, $3,200
of which was spent trying to save Gizmo.
The rest was donated toward the veterinary
costs of 10 other Fond du Lac-area dogs.

Gumption, 16, one of the oldest
koalas on record, died October 28 at the
Columbus Zoo in Powell, Ohio. Born in
1980 at the Melbourne Zoo, Gumption and
his son Mnirri, 9, came to Columbus in 1992
after some years at the Los Angeles Zoo.

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