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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Conservation scientist Alan Conrad Ziegler dead at 73

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Science Writer

Conservation scientist and political activist Alan Conrad Ziegler, 73, who worked to protect native Hawaiian species in the early years of Hawaiian conservation activism, died Sept. 16.

Alan Ziegler was also an active outdoorsman and claimed the first solo circumnavigation by kayak of the six largest Hawaiian islands. The zoological consultant died Sept. 16 at the age of 73.

Advertiser library photo • July 7, 1986

Ziegler's most recent book was "Hawaiian Natural History, Ecology and Evolution," a survey of the natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, published last year by the University of Hawai'i Press.

He was known by friends as much for his sense of humor and his fervor for conservation as for his science.

"He was just a crazy, off-the-beaten-path kind of guy," said Bishop Museum vetebrates collections manager Carla Kishinami.

"He was a marvelous fellow, a great sense of humor, almost a trickster," said Hawaiian insect expert Frank Howarth, who holds the L.A. Bishop Distinguished Chair of Zoology at Bishop Museum.

Both said Ziegler's science was unassailable. It was his work on Hawaiian bird fossils that recognized a whole class of extinct species, including flightless geese, ibis and other birds. In recent years, he sought the protection of sinkholes in the 'Ewa Plain where the bones of extinct native birds were found, and he led many students on field trips to them.

He fought actively against the introduction of axis deer to the Islands, a position later proved sound after the deer caused much damage to Maui's native ecosystems and farms. And he battled to prevent the introduction of freshwater eels to the Islands.

"He was very concerned about the environment and used his expertise appropriately in environmental issues," Howarth said.

Ziegler was born Dec. 10, 1929, in Texas, and moved to Hawai'i in 1967 to head Bishop Museum's vertebrate zoology division and in 1983 left to become an independent zoological consultant. He was also an active outdoorsman, and claimed the first solo circumnavigation by kayak of the six largest Hawaiian islands.

He is survived by his wife, Kaye Tatsuko Ziegler; daughter, Marjorie Fern Yasue Ziegler; son, Walter Arthur Yoshitaka Ziegler; and sister, Marjorie Anne Wilson of Missouri. No memorial service will be held.

Donations may be made to the Alan Ziegler Memorial Fund of Conservation Council for Hawai'i, or to other environmental organizations.