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Zoo Mourns Passing of Assistant Director

Zoo Mourns Passing of Assistant Director

By Herald Staff

Alexander ‘AJ’ Ernst, veterinarian at the Cape May County Zoo, passed away on Dec. 1. He was 45.
Alexander ‘AJ’ Ernst, veterinarian at the Cape May County Zoo, passed away on Dec. 1. He was 45.

The county is mourning the loss of Alexander Joseph “AJ” Ernst, the zoo’s assistant director and veterinarian, who passed away on Friday, Dec. 1, at the age of 45.

Ernst was born and raised in Lower Township, where, according to his obituary, he developed a love for fishing and animals. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Maine and his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Atlantic Veterinary College, a veterinary teaching hospital in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Ernst was very passionate about his career at the Cape May County Zoo and became the assistant director and veterinarian. He was essentially the voice of the zoo, providing public information for residents and visitors by appearing in news articles, such as in the Nov. 21 announcement of a newborn Watusi calf.

Ernst is predeceased by his father Harry Ernst. He leaves a wife of 10 years, Kira, and their two daughters, Lydia and Natalie. He is also survived by his mother, Cape May County Open Spaces Program Director Barbara Ernst, and brother, John Ernst.

The Cape May County Zoo, normally open every day except for Christmas Day, will be closed on Saturday, Dec. 9, when a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. at the Parish of St. John Neumann, St. Raymond Church at 800 Bayshore Rd., Villas. Family and friends are invited to pay their respects Saturday morning from 10 a.m. until the time of Mass at 11:30 a.m. Interment will be held privately on the grounds of Tabernacle Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, it was the wishes of Ernst that donations be made to Cape May County Zoo for future generations to benefit and enjoy the wonders of the animal kingdom.

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