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The illustrious career of Tony the salamander

Hello everyone! My name is Roxanne, and I am an Ambassador Animal Keeper here at the Wieland Wildlife Home at Zoo Atlanta. I know this is the time of year that many folks are making New Year’s Resolutions, so I thought you might be inspired by the amazing accomplishments of one of our ambassador animals. Please allow me to introduce our ambassador barred tiger salamander, Sir Dr. Anthony Salamander, PhD., Esq., DDS, CPL, whom we lovingly refer to as Tony. How did such a small animal get such a long list of accolades? Well, it all started last year…

Wieland Wildlife Home, one of our ambassador animal buildings, suffered water damage after pipes burst during a bad cold spell in December of 2022. Most of the furniture in the building was ruined, so new items had to be ordered after the remodel was complete. When replacing the table that held Tony’s terrarium, Curator Becky Young ordered an office desk so that there would be storage and a place to store his travel enclosure. The problem was that his building mates, our rabbits and chinchillas, live outdoors for a large part of the year, so at the time Tony had his desk and the entire room all to himself. This led the Wieland keepers to start referring to the room as Tony’s Office.

This is where things started to get goofy. We decided that if Tony had his own office, he must have some sort of important career to necessitate the space. We decided that a lawyer might have such a desk, so we gave Tony a law degree from Wieland Law School and made him a little sign for the room, adding the “Esq.” after his name. “Anthony Salamander, Esquire” already sounded so distinguished that we thought we might as well have him knighted and added the “Sir” to his sign. As people came in and out of the building and noticed his sign, several made suggestions for additional accomplishments he could aspire to, and as we started explaining the story and original joke to our friends, significant others, and coworkers across the Zoo, more and more designations were piled on. It was suggested that Tony had probably worked on a pilot’s license as a hobby. Someone decided he should have a PhD, and our summer intern thought it should be in fermentation science, a subject one of her friends actually majored in. Another Wieland keeper wanted him to have a medical degree, and she decided Tony would make an excellent orthodontist. Recently our Ambassador Animal Swing Keeper divulged to us that Tony was also a New York Times Best-Selling Author, although his novel “Wicked Wetlands: A Salamander’s Embrace” is geared towards more mature readers. Finally, just before the holidays, a Primate Keeper gave him a certificate for ascending Stone Mountain.

So, what does Tony have in store for 2024? What more could a barred salamander hope to achieve in his lifetime? Well, the keepers at Wieland are happy to announce that Tony is currently working on achieving an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Fingers crossed that he is able to secure all four awards this year! So as we go into 2024, please look to Tony for inspiration to be your best self, and go achieve your hopes and dreams.  And on behalf of New York Times Best-Selling Author Sir Dr. Anthony Salamander, Esq., DDS, CPL, I wish you all a happy New Year!

Animal Ambassador Keeper


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