Herb Ellerbrock, reptile keeper who helped convey Komodo Dragon to Pittsburgh Zoo, dies at 73


Herb Ellerbrock’s fascination with reptiles was so intense as a child rising up in Sharpsburg, his mother and father hung an indication outdoors their dwelling and turned the entrance room into a store for him to gather and promote snakes.

That store helped gas the boy’s ardour for reptiles and amphibians and result in a 50-year profession on the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium as a reptile keeper.

Herbert E. Ellerbrock Jr. died on Monday, Feb. 7. He was 73.

Pittsburgh Zoo curator Henry Kacprzyk stated lengthy earlier than he met Ellerbrock, he was influenced by him to turn into a caretaker for animals.

“I bear in mind seeing Herbie on the Safari TV present when he would convey reptiles on,” he stated. “A few years later after I obtained employed on the zoo, we handed one another whereas strolling on a path and it felt like a little bit of a thrill to satisfy him as a result of I admired him.”

Kacprzyk stated that first assembly with Ellerbrock led to a decades-long friendship.

Along with the day by day duties of caring for the zoo’s in depth assortment of reptiles and amphibians, Ellerbrock loved alternatives he needed to train others about these mysterious creatures throughout appearances on Safari in addition to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Ellerbrock began the Pittsburgh Reptile Present in 1989. It grew steadily through the years and attracts a median of 1,500 guests .

Ellerbrock additionally was the founding father of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Herpetological Society in 1997, which centered on selling constructive and moral therapy of reptiles and amphibians.

He traveled extensively for expeditions together with his spouse to satisfy with main herpetologists in Texas, Colorado, Costa Rica and Bali.

Ellerbrock additionally made a number of journeys to the island of Komodo in Indonesia to help with the zoo’s efforts to undertake its first Komodo Dragon, “Noname,” in 1993.

“There was no assure that have been have been going to have the ability to get one of many two Komodos that have been out there, so it was an amazing supply of satisfaction for Herbie when the one we known as Noname arrived in Pittsburgh,” Kacprzyk stated. “He beloved working with reptiles and raised that Komodo like somebody would elevate a home pet.”

Along with his work with reptiles, Ellerbrock was an avid skier. He and his spouse served for a variety of years as members of the ski patrol on the Seven Springs Resort.

He additionally was a lifetime member of the Aspinwall Hearth Division and was an emergency medical technician for the Foxwall Ambulance Service.

Along with his mother and father, Ellerbrock was preceded in demise by his spouse, Mercedes “Dolly” Gigante Ellerbrock.

He’s survived by cousins Eric Dembowski, Dennis Bougher and Julia Doerr together with a variety of different relations and mates.

Guests will likely be obtained at Worrell Funeral House on Major Road in Sharpsburg from 2 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022.

A Mass of Christian Burial will likely be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday at St. Raphael’s Church, Morningside, Pittsburgh.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Evaluation employees author. You’ll be able to contact Tony at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@triblive.com or through Twitter .

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