Paul Breese Named “Living Treasure” Of Hawai’i

Kaid Nickl, Reporter

Some of you you may know Mrs. DeMercer-Breese, the former elementary school teacher.

But do you know her husband Paul Breese or his legacy?

Because of Paul’s immense impact on Hawai’i, on February 13th, 2016 he was named a Living Treasure of Hawai’i, along with 4 others.

Paul’s mark in the islands starts with a zoo. He was the first appointed Zoo Director at Honolulu Zoo in 1947. While working at the zoo, he created many breeding programs to diversify the zoo with even more animals. The types of animals he worked with included giraffes and Galapagos tortoises.

After his long stand as Director, he is currently an Emeritus where he passes on his vast knowledge of public relations and governments agencies to visitors.

To add on to this prestigious level of commendations, he was a former Chief of the Wildlife Branch, and a former chairperson of the Hawai’i Sate Nene advisory committee, in which he played a vital role in preventing the extinction of these precious birds through the combined efforts of the Honolulu Zoo, private land owners, and the state of Hawai’i.

But wait, there’s more! Mr. Breese is also a former Vice-Chairperson of the Conservation Council of Hawai’i. This organization made the resolution to legislature to make the Nene the official bird of the territory of Hawai’i, and eventually the official state bird of Hawai’i.

Paul was also a Naval Officer in the South Pacific Theater in WWII. He drove a landing craft to shore at Normandy on D-Day.

Paul Breese has touched the hearts of many people in the community, including myself. When I was a child, he noticed that I expressed a fond love for nature (and, more specifically, reptiles), so he granted me a calendar with reptile photos and a book all about the curious creatures. He helped spurred my interest in nature and biology, and I’m sure many others can say the same.

Paul Breese was and is a man of amazing intellect and curiosity. His keen attention to preserving animals in their natural habitat meant that Hawai’i’s wildlife continues to prosper today. Countless people now are educated of the wonders of nature thanks to this “Living Treasure”.

And best of all, he lives right in Kohala!