Perhaps nowhere is that more obvious than with the
"Nearly every school child in
Just over 110 years ago the zoo began with a few animals and opened as a small menagerie at
Today the zoo (renamed again in the 1960s) is home, on its 119 acres, to more than 1,900 animals, including 54 endangered or threatened species. Its plant collection is impressive as well. Countless schoolchildren have toured both and many were awed by the beauty of nature. Success like this didn't just happen. It's been a team effort since the beginning.
Back in the 1930s, schoolchildren donated pennies to buy animals. That continued in the 1940s when perhaps the most famous zoo animal, Judy the elephant, was purchased in 1949. She would live at the zoo for nearly 50 years.
The 1960s ushered in the era when guests got away from what Stevens calls the "circus-like atmosphere" at the zoo and entered the conservation and research stage. Animal lovers would learn more about the species; zoos could step in and help endangered species.
Although animal rights activists might still decry zoos as exploitive toward animals, Stevens' book is filled with page after page of people who for decades showered abundant love and care on the inhabitants.
Without donations and volunteers, none of this would have been possible. In 2004, for instance, the
There have been growing pains as well. The zoo amphitheater had 54,000 attend the first nine concerts in 1981. Neighbors complained of vandalism and blocked streets; stricter rules and fines gradually brought the concerts under control. Tensions have also arisen between the city trust that officially runs the zoo and a nonprofit organization that supports it with abundant time and money.
Most remember the painful decision the zoo made in 2001 to stop exhibiting dolphins after a trio of them (Harley, Turbo and Sally) died between 1998 and 2000 from an undetermined source of bacteria. A baby named Lily also died from natural causes. Yet the zoo continues to invest in the well-being of its animals, including a roomy
We're confident the next 50 years at the zoo will be just as memorable, meaningful and exciting as the past 110 years. As former zoo director
Our thanks to zoo employees and volunteers throughout the years for all those memories.
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