Let’s dive into some Zoo history

Recently I was charged with the task of digitizing a portion of the Seneca Park Zoo Society’s archive of news clippings, press releases, photos and slides. As a history buff, this project is right up my alley and I am finding it very interesting. It’s a bit like tracing your genealogy, except the family is composed of animals and humans connected to the Zoo. I get phone calls time to time from people who reminisce about how the Zoo looked 30, 40 or 50 years ago. This project brought back some memories of the Zoo, long forgotten. I thought we could play the “Did You Know?” game so that perhaps my project might help YOU remember some of the Zoo’s history. Here we go!

Photo by Marie Kraus

Photo by Marie Kraus

Photo by Tina Fess

Photo by Tina Fess

Did you know?

  • The Zoo formerly housed a library of more than 2,000 books which was accessible to the public. (1986)
  • Admission to the Zoo was free of charge before noon, Monday through Friday. (1987)
  • The first Jungle Jog was held in 1990, making Jungle Jog 2014 the 25th anniversary of the event.
  • The very first orangutan ever born at the Zoo was Bandar, born in 1993 to parents Kumang and Jiggs. Bandar was sent to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in November 1998.
  • The Zoo celebrated its centennial in 1994, which means 2014 marks the 120th anniversary of the Zoo.
  • Polar bear Aurora gave birth to her first cub, female Anoki, November 20, 1996. Anoki was transferred to the Rio Grande Biological Park in Albuquerque in December 1997 and now resides at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
  • The Rocky Coasts opened in April of 1997. Zoo attendance for 1997 topped 500,000 visitors.
  • White-handed gibbon Dorothy gave birth on St. Patrick’s Day 1997 at age 26. She still resides at the Zoo and is 42 years old.
  • Orangutan Kumang gave birth to daughter Dara on September 23, 1999. Both mother and daughter remain at the Zoo. Father Jiggs passed away at age 35 in January 2001.
  • Polar bear Aurora gave birth to twin cubs on November 27, 1999. A contest was held to name the twins and the winner suggested Inuit names Qilak (the sky) and Sila (the earth).
  • The Zoo’s Butterfly Beltway program was initiated in 2002 to promote the conservation of Monarch butterflies.

As you can see, I have made my way up to 2002. I’m still working and hope to share more memories with you in the future. I invite you to share your memories of the Zoo by commenting here, on Facebook, or by e-mailing your short anecdote or photo to mritchie@senecazoo.org. You may see your story or photo here soon!

EVENT REMINDER:  There is still time to buy advance tickets for the Animal Art Expo being held in the Zoo’s Z.O.T. Zone and Conference Center from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, November 9th. Purchase tickets at the Zoo’s Front Building by 5 p.m. Friday, November 8th to receive the advance-sale price of $5 for our Zoo members and $7 for non-members. You may also purchase tickets at the Front Gate the evening of the event for the price of $6 for our Zoo members and $8 for non-members. This event is for people 21 and older only and absolutely no one under the age of 21 years old will be admitted.