In Memory of Mark L. Morris


After receiving a D.V.M. from Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine in 1958 and a Ph.D. in veterinary pathology and nutrition from the University of Wisconsin in 1963, he returned to Topeka, Kan. to enter the family business and continue the work of his father, Mark L. Morris, Sr., D.V.M., who had formulated the first therapeutic diet for dogs and cats. Dr. Morris, Jr. went on to greatly expand this line of diets, as well as to develop the Science Diet® line of products and the ZuPreem® line of diets for zoo animals. 

In 1964 Gary Clarke, then the director of the Topeka Zoo, made a phone call to Dr. Mark Morris, Jr. at Mark Morris Associates (MMA). He wanted to discuss developing better nutrition for animals at the Topeka Zoo. “In the 60’s, at theTopeka Zoo, the concept that specific animals needed different nutrition had not gained acceptance and we had only a very basic idea of what different species required nutritionally. The animals were fed mostly unsupplemented meat and left-over produce from grocery stores, with very little consideration as to whether the diet was balanced for the species being fed,” says Gary Clarke, retired director of the Topeka Zoo.
“Little did I know, that my phone call would lead to the ZuPreem brand of products, dedicated to developing nutrition for zoo animals, or that Mark Morris and I would become lifelong friends,” he said. What followed over the next seven years was a line of nutritionally complete diets for different species, including carnivorous mammals and birds, ratites, bears, passerines, reptiles and hoof stock. Clarke credits the new ZuPreem products with greatly helping to improve the reproduction of animals in the Topeka Zoo’s collection, resulting in the zoo winning the Beane Award in 1970 for the first captive reproduction of the American Golden Eagle. “To a large extent, the ZuPreem diets were the first of their kind and what is most remarkable is the number of diets for a wide range of species that were developed during a relatively short period of
time. The contribution to the body of knowledge about zoo animal nutrition was huge and is still relevant today,” says Clarke. .Along with the Prescription Diet® and Science Diet® line of products, the ZuPreem® line of products was sold to Hill’s Pet Nutrition in 1968. However, through an innovative contractual relationship between MMA and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., MMA retained responsibility for product development and quality control until Dr. Morris retired in 1988.