New York City Zoos

The Bronx Zoo

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"New York City Zoos" by Joan Scheier

Chimp and Keeper Chimp and Keeper Chimp and Keeper Chimp and Keeper
The Publisher: Arcadia Publishing

The Bronx Zoo

In these photographs of the Bronx Zoo, one finds images of the vanished, the quirky, and the familiar. Vanished are the barred bear dens, replaced by mated exhibits. Vanished are the cages of the 1903 lion house. In 1941 the lions moved to the African Plains exhibt. Not completely vanished is the architecture. Zookeepers no longer walk elephants along public paths of the zoo as depicted in early photograph. Change of course continues today. The ghost architecture of the zoo now includes such long familiar sites as the 1950 great Apes House, demolished and now is occupied by the Butterfly garden. To obtain perspective, take a day to walk around the Bronx Zoo. Bring your copy of this book. Compare, discuss.

Excerpt written by
Steve Johnson, Manager, Bronx Zoo Library

The Bronx Zoo 1899

When the zoo opened in 1899 they had in their collection grizzle bears, black bears and polar bears. The natural rocks were included inside the bear dens. This is an example of early cages common at the beginning of the 20th century.


The Rocking Stone

The rocking stone shown in this 1905 postcard is a 40 ton boulder of pink granite. The Rocking Stone restaurant can be seen in the background. The boulder was moved in 1959 to the World of Darkness where it was moved slightly so it could no longer be rocked.

Rocking Stone

American Bison

The Bronx Zoo has played an important part in the recovery of the Amercian Bison. In 1905 the herd was on the verge of extinction. The American Bison Society established in 1905 was generally credited with saving the bison from extinction. The Central Park Zoo of 1934 and the Queens Zoo of today have successfully bred American Bison.


The Large Bird House

The large bird house was opened on July 4 1905. The main hall included a central flying gage. There were 19 outside cages with a domed aviary. Today the building is used for administrative offices.

Bird House

The Lion House

The lion house in 1905 was considered an enlightened zoo design of its time. The elements of design emphasized cleanliness and light. The zoo-goers desire for an uninterrupted view was also a prime consideration. This is an example of how an exhibit would have looked 100 years agao. (WCS)

Lion House

Senor Lopez

This is the famous jaguar, Senor Lopez. In 1906 he had the distinction of being the first inhabitant of the lion house. Today Senor Lopex resides in the Bronx Zoo in the form of two marble statues done by Anne Vaugn Hyall Huntington.

Senor Lopez

Elephant House

A monumental building for elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses opened November 20, 1908. Kings build menageries; the elephant house was designed to look like a palace. There were eight large cages on the inside while elephants occupied the outside yard.

The Elephant House


The zoo acquired Gunda, its first Indian elephant for $2350.00. It was not unusual for zoos to purchase animals from brokers or trade with other zoos and circuses.


Andy The Orangutan

Andy, a baby orangutan opened the Great Apes House in 1950. A bunch of grapes joined two ends of a ribbon across the door. Andy picked a grape, the ribbons parted and the building was proclaimed open.


Patty Cake As A Grownup

Patty Cake, a gorilla was born at the Central Park Zoo on September 3, 1972. She now resides at the newest gorilla habitat, Congo Gorrila Forest. Patty Cake has had nine offspring, her latest a little girl Nyasha was born in February 2002.

Patty Cake As A Grownup

Conservation Theatre

In the Conservation Theatre in the Congo exhibit there is an eight minute film on gorillas filmed in Central Africa. At the films conclusion the curtains open onto the gorilla habitat. Eye to eye contact is made through clear glass that installed from top to bottom.

Conservation Theatre

Mission Of The Bronx Zoo

There are many graphics in the exhibits and along the pathways. This sign catches the eye and brings a smile while telling the visitors of the mission of the Bronx Zoo. "Most Cat Owners Clean Up Their Fur Balls--- we weigh ours"

Cat Ball

Jacquar Sculptures

A popular exhibit was Senor Lopez, a jaguar who was the first inhabitant of the lion house. Today his likeness stands as two sculpted figures on the slope beween the Fountain Circle and Astor Cour.


Rockefeller Fountain

The ornate fountain known as the Rockefeller Fountain first stood on the grounds of a a wealthy resident of Como, Italy. William and John D. Rockefeller purchased the fountain for about $ 25,000 and transported and assembled behind the sea lion pool. It was moved in 1910 to the Concourse Parking Circle.

Rockefeller Fountain

You may order The Central Park Zoo Book and The New York City Zoos and Aquarium book at:

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Joan is available for book talks with slides, for both the Central Park Zoo and The New York City Zoos and Aquarium books. Please contact her through e-mail or