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Anthony Colonnese

December 19, 1947 – September 15, 2021

Tony passed away as the result of injuries from a car accident. He loved animals, cowboy movies, French fries, his Italian heritage, Cal football, science fiction, loud music, poker, and walks with his dog, Harry.

Anthony Colonnese
Anthony Colonnese

He graduated from Charles City High School, attended the California Institute of Technology, and completed a Bachelor’s degree in zoology at UC Berkeley. Tony became interested in zoology after starting his career at the San Francisco Zoo, where he was the Bear Keeper, and later, Senior Animal Keeper for carnivores.

A member of multiple professional, service, and social organizations, his passion was wildlife conservation, particularly bears. He was very proud of having worked with all eight bear species during his 38 years at the San Francisco Zoo. In 1990, he was awarded the San Francisco Medal of Merit for his heroic rescue of a zoo employee from a leopard attack.

He and his wife Pat were married for 49 years. They had been looking forward to resuming driving trips around the West to spot wildlife. Their daughter, Francesca, learned to share his love of animals from many mornings at the zoo feeding carrots to bears, bananas to rhinos, and acacia to giraffes.

In addition to Pat and Francesca, he is survived by his brother Tom, niece Kris Babani, nephew Nick, aunt Darlys Michaelis, many cousins, and countless friends. No memorial is planned at this time.

Tony would have appreciated donations to the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society, or the Bear Conservation Fund of the International Association for Bear Research and Management.

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