Biography of George M. Bistany
San Francisco, CA Biographies





GEORGE M. BISTANY
The unexcelled knowledge and skill displayed by George M. Bistany in the discharge of his duties as director of the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco are only acquired through long experience and study in the care of wild animals, also close observation of them in their native habitat. Mr. Bistany was born in the country of Egypt; and is of Spanish and Egyptian parentage. His father and mother, both now deceased, came to the United States, settling first in Rutland and later in Northampton, Massachusetts, near the Calvin Coolidge home. The father was a trader and hunter, and also raised cattle and horses.

George M. Bistany attended school in Egypt until eleven years of age, when he became interested in taking care of horses. When a youth of sixteen years, he left the parental roof and crossed the ocean to the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1906. Following his inclinations and talents, he joined the famous Bostock Wild Animal Show, and from Bostock he acquired much knowledge of jungle creatures. In 1908, he went to Cuba in connection with a government menagerie, and in 1911 returned to Africa for the purpose of collecting elephants. This trip, however, was not successful, but his reward in experience was rich. After a brief period in the United States, he went back to Africa to collect varieties of snakes, including the deadly cobra, for the New York zoo. This venture was attended with more success, and he made expenses. In 1913, he brought to this country a large shipment of elephants, giraffes, and snakes, which he exchanged for sugar, tobacco, beeves and other commodities. Later, Mr. Bistany made a voyage around the world in a vessel specially equipped for the collection of animals. On this trip, wild specimens of many kinds were gathered and brought to the United States for distribution in the zoos of Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. Mr. Bistany has spent many years on the river Nile in Egypt, where one may find the great hunters of wild game, and from them and their experiences he learned much. It was in 1929, in Africa, that he met H. Fleishhacker, with whom he made an agreement to bring to San Francisco a consignment of tigers, lions, leopards, and other animals. This was the beginning of the Fieishhacker Zoo. Mr. Bistany planned and designed the zoo area in San Francisco, the site originally having been a mere series of sand dunes, and now has a collection of animals which promises to develop into one of the largest in the country. He is widely considered an authority on the wild life with which he deals, and his services as a lecturer have been sought by clubs and other organizations. His own home is filled with an interesting and valuable collection of mounted specimens and trophies which he has accumulated during his extensive travels. He understands how to manage the most ferocious of animals and the ones who are timid as well, and it may be noted that he carries on his body the scars left by a tiger's claws and teeth. Under his competent direction, San Francisco is insured a wonderful zoological display. Time is necessary for the growth of these attractions, but the educational and recreational advantages of a civic zoo are well worth the effort and expense.

Mr. Bistany married Miss Evelyn Sherman of Cleveland, Ohio. He is a republican in politics, and belongs to the Masons, to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and to the Army and Navy Club. He was in the United States Army for fourteen months at one period of his career. Animals are naturally his greatest interest, both as a business and a diversion, but he is also a devotee of baseball and football.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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