If you were busy scrolling through google as you searched for answers to questions like “Best Lunch Deals KL”, “Calendar App”, and “Locked Phone Password Recovery Method”, you may have noticed an adorable sketch in the place of the ever present Google Icon! Instead of the familiar Google in red, blue, yellow and green, we found instead a sprightly looking older gentleman, accompanied by a troop of adorable tropical creatures, consisting of a tapir, a tortoise, a python, a bat and a rat.
Today’s Google Doodle pays homage to renowned Malaysian biologist and zoologist, Dr. Lim Boo Liat. Malaysia’s leading authority zoology and conservation, Dr. Lim was also credited with helping establish Zoo Negara in Kuala Lumpur, and had written over 300 scientific publications about mammalogy and parasitology.
A keen observer of nature, Dr.Lim had to put his studies on hold at the age of 16 when World War II broke out in order to support his family. In 1947, after the war, he applied for a temporary Lab Assistant Job with the Institute of Medical Research (IMR)- receiving a promotion to permanent Lab Assistant in 1952. This proved to be the start of a long and fruitful career.
Dr. Lim would go on to:
- Conduct research and attend conferences regarding parasitic effects on wildlife behaviour after attending multiple scientific expeditions.
- Publish over 80 scientific papers on vertebrate animals from 1955 to 1969.
- Head a newly founded Medical Ecology Division at the IMR.
Professors from European universities took note of his talents, paving the way for him to complete a Masters in the field- in spite of no having any bachelor degree qualifications. He returned triumphant from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1972, now a fully-fledged zoologist and resumed running the Medical Ecology Division. After receiving his PhD in Zoology from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1977, he was then invited help run the Vector Biology Control Research Unit at the World Health Organization.
He was considered a pioneer in the local field of zoology, receiving several awards (local and international) for his work. This includes the Spallanzani Award in 2007 and the Merdeka Award in 2013 (Dr. Lim also had the honour of being the first Southeast Asian to receive the Spallanzani award). On this day in 2003, Dr. Lim was awarded an Honorary Membership to the American Society of Mammologists. His studies were considered instrumental in the preservation of Malaysia’s jungles, noting the impact deforestation had on the diversity of the country’s species.
In his final years, Dr. Lim continued to spread the knowledge he had gained over the years, training wildlife officers and guiding fellow scientists to make their own discoveries. He passed away in 2020 at the ripe age of 93, leaving behind a legacy of over 300 research papers to the scientific world, and of inspiration to Malaysia’s budding new generations of scientists.