On April 1, 2002, Charles (Charlie) H. Hoessle retired and was named Director Emeritus of the Saint Louis Zoo. He continues to be involved with the Zoo. With a second five-year strategic plan being implemented, and his visionary leadership through the first capital campaign so evident in exhibits like the Monsanto Insectarium, the River's Edge, Penguin & Puffin Coast, and the newly renovated Emerson Children's Zoo, the legacy of Charlie lives on.
In September 2003, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association presented Charlie with the R. Marlin Perkins award, the AZA's highest individual honor.
Charlie was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a product of the St. Louis Public School System, including Harris Stowe Teacher's College, where he received his Associates of Arts Certificate. He has been awarded three honorary doctorate degrees (Maryville College 1986, Saint Louis University 1990 and University of Missouri-St. Louis 1994) and the Distinguished Alumnus award from Harris Stowe State College in 1987.
After operating an exotic animal business for ten years, Charlie joined the staff of the Saint Louis Zoological Park in 1963 as a reptile keeper. In 1964, he was appointed assistant curator, during which time he established the Zoo's Education Department. Four years later, he was appointed curator of reptiles and of education. In 1969, he was appointed general curator; in 1972, deputy director; and in January, 1982, director.
Charlie was the host of the "Saint Louis Zoo Show," a weekly television program that aired from 1968-1978. In 1973, he was named adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, Saint Louis University.
Charlie is past president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and AZA representative to the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and of Natural Resources (IUCN) in Costa Rica (1988). Among his numerous professional memberships are the International Union of Directors of Zoological Gardens (IUDZG); member of the steering committee for CBSG; member of the ISIS Board of Trustees; member of PAAZAB; member of the board for the Animal Protective Association (APA); St. Louis Herpetological Society; and St. Louis Naturalists. His civic affiliations include: board member of St. Louis Ambassadors; member of St. Louis County Counts; member of the Hawthorne Society; member of St. Louis Rotary Club; chairman of the Boy Scouts Reptile Study Merit Badge Counselors; past-state chairman of the United Nations Day; former director of the Girl Scouts and past president of St. Louis Area Museum Collaborative.
Charlie has organized professional vampire bat and reptile expeditions to Mexico and photographic safaris to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania, where he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, New Zealand and the Antarctic. He has traveled extensively throughout Western Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand and the Peruvian Amazon. Hoessle was naturalist escort for the St. Louis County's Friendship Alliance delegation in Beijing, China (1988). His most recent professional participation include World Zoo Organization conferences in Copenhagen, Denmark (1990), Singapore (1991), Antwerp, Belgium (1993), Sao Paulo, Brazil (1994) Dublin, Ireland (1995) Denver (1996) Berlin (1997) and Nagoya, Japan (1998), Pretoria, South Africa (1998) and Perth, Australia (2001).
Charlie is a contributor to scientific, environmental and zoological publications and an active presenter at conferences of his peers. He was keynote speaker at the Pan African Association of Zoological Gardens in South Africa (1993).
He and his wife, Marilyn, have two sons and two daughters.