Our People: Dream came true for assistant zoo director

Mark Yannotti was born in Palo Alto, California, and was raised in San Jose, California.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks Hillcrest Park Zoo Assistant Zoo Director Mark Yannotti explains his role at the zoo, while a 4 1/2 week old  Small-Spotted Genet checks out his ear.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Hillcrest Park Zoo Assistant Zoo Director Mark Yannotti explains his role at the zoo, while a 4 1/2 week old
Small-Spotted Genet checks out his ear.

He grew up in a family of eight.
They moved to Clovis when he was in high school because his brother was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base and would tell the family how great Clovis was. As a teen, Yannotti wasn’t convinced but eventually followed his family to Clovis and now 30 years later he says he should have moved when his family first did.
He met and married his wife, Kathy Yannotti, in Clovis. His wife also worked for the city zoo.
The couple bought their home in Farwell about 20 years ago. They have one daughter, a granddaughter and a grandson.
Yannotti has a long history with the city zoo and has many stories of its growth and the many animals he has raised. Yannotti is the Assistant Zoo Director. He has worked for city of Clovis for 30 years.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Raising the orphaned animals, the young animals. I’ve started to pass that along to the newer zookeepers. I’ve raised everything from tiger cubs to wolf cubs. I like being a surrogate to the animals. I like being a dad. I’m a people person.

What do you not like about your job?
The politics. There’s always politics. My favorite thing is people and my least favorite things are people. The hardest part of my job is to discipline my crew. I expect a lot from them but I expect as much as I put out.

When you were a kid, what did you envision your life being like as an adult?
As a young kid I envisioned something like this. So really and truly, dreams do come true. I do have my days when things are miserable but we all do.

Who is your hero and why?
Jesus Christ. It took a while, but I finally figured it out.

What is your theme song?
I have to think about it but I like “Working Man Hero” by John Lennon. That’s pretty much my theme song.

What’s so great about your favorite sport?
Baseball. I’m a second-generation Giants fan. It’s America’s sport. It’s all American, invented by an American. What can you say; peanuts, popcorn, beer…it’s great.

What’s your favorite TV show, past and present?
I don’t really watch TV but I like the reality show called “Alaska, The Last Frontier.” I liked “Kung Fu” as a kid.

What is your favorite taste?
Savory definitely. I’m a carnivore. I try everything new. My hobby is cooking. I’m 100 percent Italian so I love Italian food.

What is your favorite smell?
I like steak cooking or my mom’s spaghetti sauce but any kind of savory food.

What do you envision your life being like in 10 years?  
From a Paul McCartney song, I want grandchildren on my knee. My daughter plans to have a large family. Having a lot of grandchildren and spending time with them and teach them stuff grandpas teach them is my dream.

— Compiled by CMI Advertorial/ Editorial writer: D’Nieka Hartsfield