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Caras, Roger (24 May 1928–18 February 2001), animal rights activist, Hollywood executive, and naturalist, was born in Methuen, a rural Massachusetts town around thirty miles north of Boston, the son of Jacob Caras, an insurance salesman, and Bessie Caras, an accountant. His affection for animals developed at an early age. At home he was exposed to dogs, cats, and canaries, and in the woods surrounding his house were raccoons, deer, opossums, and skunks. "Methuen was a wonderful place in which to learn and to explore," he recalled in his autobiography, ...

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William Temple Hornaday Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102416).

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Hornaday, William Temple (01 December 1854–06 March 1937), conservationist and naturalist, was born near Plainfield, Indiana, the son of William Hornaday and Martha Varner Miller, farmers. When he was three, his family moved to Knoxville, Iowa. Although lacking a high school education, he enrolled at Oskaloosa College in 1870 for a program of preparatory studies. In the spring of 1872 he became a freshman at Iowa State Agricultural College. After working in the museum at Iowa State, Hornaday became committed to becoming a taxidermist, a program of study that was not offered by this college. In November 1873 he obtained a position at the nation’s center for the practice of taxidermy at ...

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John Muir Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-52000).

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Muir, John (21 April 1838–24 December 1914), naturalist, conservationist, and writer, was born in Dunbar, Scotland, the son of Daniel Muir and Anne Gilrye, farmers. He was educated in Dunbar’s common school and by his father’s insistence that he memorize a Bible chapter every day. With his father and two siblings, John migrated to Wisconsin in 1849; the rest of the family soon followed. On the family’s homestead near Portage, Daniel worked John, just entering his teens, as if he were an adult field hand, inflicting corporal punishment; John Muir later believed that this hard farm labor stunted his growth. The boy’s escape was to devour every book that he came across, and when his father forbade his reading at night, he devised a sort of wooden alarm clock attached to his bed. This “early-rising machine” awakened him very early in the morning, and he would read until it was time for his exhausting chores....

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Osborn, Fairfield (15 January 1887–16 September 1969), naturalist and leader in conservation, was born Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr., in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of Henry Fairfield Osborn, a professor of comparative anatomy at Princeton University, and Lucretia Perry. When the boy was four, his father became professor of biology at Columbia University, and the family moved to New York City. In his room in the family’s brownstone he “gave vent to these very great inner longings to be surrounded by animals” (...