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In 1887, a wealthy lumber mill owner and real estate developer named Guy C. Phinney paid $10,000 for 342 acres of land along what we now call Phinney Ridge and down the slope to Green Lake. He kept 180 acres for himself and spent $40,000 constructing an elegant English-style estate, complete with formal gardens. He named it "Woodland Park." There was a conservatory, promenade, hunting lodge, the "Woodlands Hotel," and even a menagerie. The animal collection featured North American animals like black bear and deer, but there were African ostriches as well. The upper portion, where the zoo is today, was almost completely cleared of trees. A winding road led down to the lake's edge through the more forested portion of the estate. The park's main entrance was at N. 50th St. & Fremont Ave. N., as it is today. At the entrance, there was a stone arch.

Phinney generously opened his estate to the public as long as they obeyed his conspicuously posted rules. He permitted no foul language, firearms or dogs (which would be "shot on sight," stated the rules). Living things, plants and animals alike, were protected from abuse of any kind.

Seattleites used the newly developed system of streetcar lines to make their way out to Woodland Park from Seattle, then still concentrated on the hills around Elliott Bay. Phinney had tracks installed down the hill to the town of Fremont and purchased his own streetcar, which was white and had "Woodlands" painted on the sides. It was popularly referred to as "the White Elephant," because of its color. Phinney hired a driver, and used the streetcar to go back and forth to his office downtown. 

Guy Carleton Phinney died in 1893, only 41 years old. He left his estate unfinished.

By 1899, there was considerable public interest in acquiring the Phinney estate and the City Council passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of the park for $100,000. The move was controversial, however, due to the feeling of many people that the price was too high and the park located too far out of town (at the turn of the century, the area around Green Lake was still virtually undeveloped). The Mayor also opposed the acquisition and vetoed the purchase, but the City Council overturned the veto and the papers were signed on December 28, 1899.

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During the first 30 years of the 20th century, the zoo slowly took on the appearance of a "real" zoo of the time. Increasing numbers of fenced yards were built for birds and hooved animals such as deer, sheep, elk and bison.

In 1921, an elephant barn was built. A row of barred bear and lion cages were constructed along the main north-south pathway through the zoo. For decades, bears and big cats paced back and forth in these cages until the Bear Grottos and the Feline House were completed in 1951.

Nearly all of the exhibits were in the 20 or so acres closest to Phinney Ave. There were also large yards for elk and bison in what is the northeast corner of the zoo. A public road transited the zoo, allowing cars to shortcut from N. 59th St. to Fremont Ave. N. by driving past the row of bear cages.

1902: The Olmsted Brothers, a famous Boston architectural firm that had designed Central Park in New York City, was hired to plan all of Seattle's parks, including the zoo. Today, much of their design remains visible in the city's park system. The tree-lined boulevards that connect one park to another throughout the city were part of the Olmsted design.

1903: A small private zoo at Leschi Park closed and the animals were moved to Woodland Park.

1904: A trolley line was constructed through the lower portion of the park, opening it to more visitation. Woodland Park was no longer regarded as being way out in the country.

Citizens of Seward, Alaska donated an Alaskan Brown Bear (Carrie Nation - see 1940)

1904-1906: Animals (excluding native northwestern species) listed were: sea lions, a coatimundi and a pair of ostriches.

1905: A concessionaire offered burro rides at 5 cents per ride. these were the first noted rides at zoo.

1907: The Parks Dept. hired Gus Knudson, a veterinarian, to serve as "animal keeper" at the zoo. When he was 10, Knudson had run away from his Minnesota home to join the circus. He was officially made the zoo's first director in 1922, though he had probably been in charge of the zoo since his arrival.

1908: A herd of Olympic elk was purchased.

1911: The Primate House opened mid-summer. It was the first heated structure at the zoo and the most impressive building on the zoo grounds until mid-century. Deteriorated beyond repair the Primate House was removed in winter 2003.

The speed limit for cars and motorcycles passing through the park was set at 12mph on the straightaway and 6mph on curves.

1912: Four ostriches were purchased from a ostrich farm (on Madison St.!) that was going out of business.

A schooner (either "Transit" or "Transport") brought two polar bears from the Arctic.

Phinney's stone arch entrance was demolished sometime before 1912.

1913: A polar bear cage was built. It stood on the present site of the zoo's main restrooms, south of the Tropical Rain Forest.

The "Umbrella Pool" exhibit was constructed. It looked like a big mushroom, and was located just north of the Polar Bear cage and east of the old Primate House, about on the current site of the DeBrazza's guenon exhibit on the Tropical Rain Forest loop path. It housed waterfowl, and at other times, seals and river otters, according to the zoo's second director, Ed Johnson. It was not torn down until at least the mid-1970s.

1914: The zoo's first pony ring constructed, larger than the current one but nearly on the same site and sprawling to the west.

On January 23rd, the southwest corner of WPZ, later known as the War Garden, was dedicated to the veterans of the Spanish-American War. Two Civil War-era barge howitzers (small wheeled field pieces) were added to the existing naval guns that had been placed there in 1911. A plaque made of metal from the USS Maine was set there as well, to honor the personnel of the USS Illinois. It is not clear why the Illinois was specifically honored.

1915: A Kangaroo House was constructed.

Cannons from Admiral Dewey's cruiser, the USS Concord, were placed in a plot on the southwest corner of Woodland Park, now called the War Garden. 

1916: Keeper Knudson's salary was increased to $100/mo.

1917: A Leopard House was constructed.

1918: New Bison corral built.

A 2-year-old lion, Ole, was donated by Mayor Ole Hanson (see 1935)

1919: A lion house was completed in 1919.

A Ferris Wheel and carousel were set up across Phinney Ave. (on the current site of St. John's Lutheran Church, near the zoo's west gate). The view from the Ferris wheel was spectacular - "you could see all over Ballard and the Sound." - Ed Johnson

1920: A camel was born, probably the zoo's first.

Some cages were built or retrofitted with rockwork as an early attempt to create natural habitats. The effect was mainly decorative and did little to relieve the animals' boredom.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer proposed a fund-raising drive to acquire an elephant.

Seattle's population was 327,194.

1921: Asian elephant Wide Awake was purchased partly by children's donations ($3122.82) with the remainder being covered by the P-I. Actually, the elephant was purchased by the P-I in 1920 in anticipation of the fund-raising effort. Wide Awake was presented at WPZ in June, 1921, following a celebratory parade through downtown. She was purchased from Singer's Midgets, a popular vaudeville show of the period. She was advertised as a "midget" elephant, but actually was just young, est. born 1913. Her show name was "Cleopatra" but she was renamed in honor of a P-I children's group, "the Wide Awake Club." She was named by Dorothy Jewell Dike, who won a contest for the privilege.

Wide Awake gave rides at ten cents a ride, but the rides were terminated when she decided to take off down a public street on her own. It is not known if she had passengers aboard at the time.

The Bison Barn and the Elk Barn (both demolished mid-1990's) were constructed.

The "Model Farm" was built. It now serves as the zoo's Raptor Center, and is the oldest structure still in use on the zoo grounds.

1922: A small elephant house was constructed for Wide Awake in northwest corner of the zoo.

A camel house was constructed south of the elephant house. The zoo began giving camel rides, at ten cents a ride.

A formal Rose Garden was proposed by the Seattle Rose Society and established by the Parks Board. It is still in existence in 1999, and is regarded as one of the finest in the nation, having won many awards in the category of public rose gardens.

A new kangaroo house was built, for red kangaroos and wallaroos (NOT the current Australasia building).

Camels "Nile" and "Potentate" were donated by the Seattle Shriners.

1923: President Warren G. Harding spoke to a huge crowd at Woodland Park. Don Sherwood, who attended, says there were 30,000 Boy Scouts present. There was, at any rate, a group of Boy Scouts attending the National Jamboree. Byron Fish recalled that the Boy Scouts were ranked in front of Harding ("as protection"). This was Harding's last public speech before his death in San Francisco on August 2nd.

1924: A statue,"The Hiker," portraying a Spanish-American War infantryman, was placed in the War Garden (the southwest corner of the park near N. 50th St. and Phinney Ave. N.

1925: Springbok barns and a Pheasantry were built. The Pheasantry, much improved, is still in service at the zoo.

Harding Memorial completed (see 1923). It was a large concrete bandstand, with bas-relief sculptures of boy scouts and the late president. When the African Savanna was constructed, a large hole was dug next to the memorial, and it was simply tipped into the hole and buried. History has not been kind to Harding, and he is not regarded today with the same reverence as in 1925. Boy Scouts planted Maple trees near the wading pool (the current site of the south parking lot and the Family Farm).

1926: A Kodiak Bear enclosure was built, added on at one end of the row of bear cages.

The zoo's labor budget for 1926: Director $225/mo., 4 keepers @ $142.50/mo., 2 apprentice keepers @ $100/mo., 2 apprentice keepers @ $80/mo.

1927: There were major discussions in public meetings about closing the north entrance to motor traffic. It was noted that approximately 3,300 cars per day used the zoo as a shortcut, and went right past the animal cages. Local residents and nearby commercial interests were against the closure, zoo and city Humane Society personnel were for it. In the end, and for many years afterwards, traffic was allowed to continue through the zoo.

Seattle population about 400,000

1929: The Great Depression plunges the country, and the zoo, into very tough times.

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The Great Depression hit the country and the zoo very hard. The staff was sometimes not paid for long periods. In lieu of pay, scrip was issued, an ersatz currency that could be redeemed at some stores in the Greenwood/Phinney Ridge area.

Improvements came to a halt until the WPA came to WPZ. A New Deal program, the Works Progress Administration used federal money to employ skilled workers on public projects. Local governments only had to come up with funds for the materials for those projects.

There is a scrap of paper in the zoo's archives, apparently penciled by the zoo's director, Dr. Gus Knudson. On it he roughed out a host of ideas for possible WPA projects, some ambitious and others more modest. One can almost imagine his excitement at the opportunity to have some much needed exhibit construction performed through the miracle of federal monies. He dreamed of a giant indoor Tropical Aviary building that would have followed the arc of the pathway around the North Meadow.

Knudson didn't get everything he dreamed of, but there are a number of WPA-built exhibits that are still visible at the zoo today: Goat Hill, now the home of serows; the Beaver Pond, now vacant; and Monkey Island, (the renovated lemur exhibit on the Rain Forest Loop path.)

The U.S. entered World War II at the end of 1941, and in the belt-tightening for the war effort, the hard times got even harder. At least one teenage girl was hired to fill in for zookeepers who'd gone off to war, and she was quite the novelty -- a woman zookeeper! It would be 25 years before women would once again be part of the animal keeping work force at Woodland Park Zoo and in 2003, a woman became president and CEO of the zoo.

1930: A Commissary building was constructed south of the Primate House. It was later converted for use as a veterinary treatment and quarantine center. Now it is informally referred to as "Keeper Central" or "Old Animal Health." The zoo's Exhibit technicians have their shops in the surrounding compound. Zookeepers slaughtered horses for food for the lions and other big cats here as late as the 1970s.

Frank Vincenzi was hired as a keeper. He would later serve as director and then general curator before retiring in 1974.

Engineer W. B. Barkoff was hired by the city to design a six-lane north-south highway through the city -- Aurora Ave. (Hwy. 99). The Park Board went on record as opposing any highway cutting through the park.

A bear was traded to Hamburg zoo for two dromedary camels.

Dr. Knudson visited several eastern zoos to study contemporary methods of exhibit construction and animal care.

Seattle's population - 365,538

1931: Dr. Knudson requested a civil service exam for apprentice keepers. The age range was changed from 16-20 to 18-45 and was open to both sexes (though this seemed to be a theoretical rather than an actual opportunity for women).

A Park Board resolution declared, "all of Woodland Park except sports fields to be Woodland Park Zoo."

1932: The zoo's first reptile house was constructed, a small wooden structure. Remodeled, it serves today as a bird-rearing facility, for the incubation of eggs and the care of hatchlings.

Elephant Tusko was acquired October 8. He was living in miserable conditions in a traveling show at Virginia and Westlake, in downtown Seattle. Mayor Dore ordered him confiscated and removed to WPZ. The Park Board approved the acquisition of Tusko provided title was free and clear and hired G.W. "Slim" Lewis as special keeper for Tusko @ $3.25 per day.

Tusko was an infamous circus bull, renowned for his tremendous size and for having gone on rampages from time to time. He spent the last months of his life at Woodland Park Zoo, with Lewis. Lewis wrote an autobiography -- I Loved Rogues -- in which he detailed the years he spent training elephants in circuses and zoos.

The Board approved remodeling Wide Awake's Elephant House to accommodate Tusko. This enlargement was apparent until the building's demolition in the 1990s. The north portion of the building had a higher roofline and was more spacious, in keeping with Tusko's tremendous size.

An old horse named Denver from Camp Denny was donated to the zoo for animal food. However, a couple requested that they be allowed to purchase the horse and care for it. The man had worked at Camp Denny and had an affection for the horse. The Board donated the horse to the couple.

Despite a public referendum to the contrary and vast opposition, Barkoff's six-lane highway was cut through the middle of Woodland Park. The decision was apparently highly political and was orchestrated by landowners and merchants. Aurora Ave. was named for the Illinois hometown of Dr. Edward C. Kilbourne, dentist, real estate developer and streetcar line creator.

1933: During this early Depression period, WPZ was almost closed due to severe financial problems. The city declined an offer from the City of Spokane to donate their animals to Seattle. Gene Chriest tells of driving around from one grocer to another picking up leftover food for the animals, however, this was apparently common practice even before the Depression, according to the late Ed Johnson, former director.

On June 10, Tusko died from a massive blood clot in his heart. His demise set off an acrimonious dispute as to the ownership and rights to his remains.

The Park Board moved that "superfluous and uninteresting animals" be disposed of. There were no indications of what kinds of animals those would be, however the cursory records from the time seem to indicate that many common and domestic animals were accepted as donations.

1935: 1,071 specimens.

"Red" the High Diving Monkey would perform his feat of climbing to the top of a 50' pole and leaping into a canvas net. This was done usually on Sundays (though some reports say daily) in a yard to the north of Monkey Island -- the current site of the the east patio of the Rainforest CafŽ. Newspapers say he performed this feat for Vice President John Nance Garner, who allegedly was unimpressed. Retired keeper Gene Chriest disagrees, and said that Red refused to do the act because it wasn't the right time or the right day.

Lion Ole died.

1936: 1,400 specimens

Camel Potentate and offspring Outer Guard died.

A beaver pool was built -- a WPA project. Although unoccupied today, it can still be seen just east of the raptor center.

1937: 1,350 specimens

Female cougar Mabel donated by State Game.

1938: 66 animals donated, including a Nubian lion.

Female lion Florence was donated by C.W. Carr.

The Zoo director's salary was increased to $225/mo. Apparently it had been lowered during the Depression ($235 in 1928).

1939: 1,315 specimens

14 Alaskan eagles were donated by the Seattle Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) donated a totem pole commemorating the state's Golden Jubilee (50 years since becoming a state). It was carved by Chief Shelton of the Salish tribe and represented aspects of Washington state. Maps from the 1970s show it in the northern portion of the fallow deer yard across from Evanston Ave. The DAR pole was removed in 1977 and never replaced.


Another totem pole designed by Frank Vincenzi and carved by WPA labor was set up in the southwest part of the zoo not far from the 55th St./Phinney Ave. entrance. The Vincenzi pole was removed at an unknown date and also never replaced.

[Mountain] Goat Hill was completed (another WPA project). Today, the former mountain goat exhibit is home to Japanese serows.

In early September, the first Giant Panda in the U.S. stopped at WPZ en route to St. Louis Zoo.

Male lions Gilmore and Lionhead were donated by Gilmore Oil Co. and were used by Frederick & Nelson in their Christmas window display. Some older Seattleites may remember that Gilmore Oil Co. used a catchy radio jingle in their advertising.

Major Mark W. Clark requested the loan of the Civil War-era barge howitzers that had been placed in the War Garden in 1914. (Clark was later an important World War II general, in command of invasion of Italy)

1940: Monkey Island and a Pony Barn were constructed, both WPA projects. The current pony barn dates from 1948, however.

1,347 specimens

Brown Bear Carrie Nation died at the age of 39 (see 1904).

Seattle population 368,302.

1941: A black bear and a black-tailed deer fawn were donated by Washington State Game

A male lion Royal was donated by Frederick & Nelson.

1942: Lower Woodland Park was used as a barracks site by the U.S. Army through 1944. The present area of the zoo's North Meadow, where concerts take place each summer, was the approximate site of an anti-aircraft gun site, with audio acquisition and a searchlight. There were barracks in the ball field area in upper Woodland Park as well (near 59th & Phinney).

The flagstaff at the zoo's south entrance (80' high) was presented by the American Legion.

On 9 Jan, seven seals were placed at the zoo by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for study.

The zoo received a male polar bear from the Kamchatka peninsula, USSR, brought here on ship Lamut.

Gilmore "quintcublets" donated by Frederick and Nelson (a play on words, referring to the famous Dionne quintuplets). The five sibling cubs received much local press and were featured heavily in F&N Christmas promotions that year.

1943: Ride concession renewed over protest of director Knudson.

1944: The Mammal (Seal) Pool "in commission"(apparently this means a contract was authorized to build the exhibit now home to the zoo's penguins).

A polar bear was donated by crew of Soviet sealing ship Kapitan Voronin.

1945: 885 specimens, 202 species.

World War II ends, in the spring in Europe, in late summer in the Pacific.

1946: The swan and pelican pool began construction; completed the following year. (the current location of Day and Night Exhibits building.)

The Park Board approved installation of a miniature train by Mr. & Mrs. E. C. Duncan of Everett. The City was to receive 10% of gross receipts.

Cost of pony rides up from a nickel to a dime.

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In 1947, Zoo director Gus Knudson, DVM, retired after forty years at the zoo. He was often frustrated by the mistreatment of the animals by visitors, as well as the lack of support for the zoo by the City. He had been a conspicuous and familiar figure in local papers over the decades. He had the opportunity, on his retirement, of having his say about the state of the zoo. His farewell remarks were front page news. Knudson vented his considerable accumulation of frustration, blasting the Park Board for micromanagement and the City of Seattle for their lack of financial support. Dr. Knudson passed away in 1951.

He was succeeded by the very capable Edward J. Johnson. Johnson had been at the zoo since 1926, and not only rose to become the zoo's director, but later became the superintendent of Parks and then the director of Seattle Center. It may have been a combination of Knudson's remarks, Johnson's political skill, and the booming post-war economy, but for whatever reasons the zoo entered an unprecedented era of building.

The zoo that existed at the time of Knudson's retirement had changed little in thirty years. The zoo that Johnson left when he became Parks Superintendent in 1960 was phenomenally improved.

To begin with, he went on a grand tour of the country's better zoos, to take a look at their exhibits and get ideas. In just ten years, a new complex of bear grottos, a modern Feline House, Aviary, Ape House, Seal pool, Administration building, Pony Barn, Flamingo Exhibit, and Giraffe/Kangaroo House were built. It is possible that without this timely burst of construction activity, Woodland Park Zoo might have gone the way of other zoos which were neglected for too long and were finally deemed not worth saving.

1947: The annual report says "1 million plus visitors" though that figure should be taken with a large grain of salt. The zoo was not even fenced, let alone gated, and therefore attendance estimates were very rough.

Deaths: Bactrian Camel (probably Nile, see 1922)

Animal acquisitions were funded for the first time. Previously, acquisitions were only by donations or trades.

A new Aviary building was under construction, project cost $150,000. Demolished in 1990, it was located on the current site of (the western half of) the Rain Forest Food Pavilion.

Dr. Gus "Doc" Knudson, D.V.M., retired at age 67.

Edward J. Johnson, zoo employee since 1926, was appointed director on 1 Sept.

Seal Pool, a Works Progress Administration project, is completed. It later was retrofitted as a pool for Humboldt penguins. It was demolished in 2008 and a new, sustainably built penguin exhibit, featuring natural wetland water filtering and geothermal heating and cooling.

1948: A new Pony Barn and pony ring were constructed. These are the barn and ring still at the zoo in 1999.

First administration building was constructed (in the 1970s it was remodeled and enlarged, and became the ARC building, near 55th and Phinney).

The old zoo barn near the west entrance was removed.

The Aviary was completed on December 5.

A bond issue was passed, and $800,000 was allotted for zoo improvements.

Plans for new bear grottos opened for bids. The bid of $242,853 was the largest item on the zoo improvement list. Today, this complex, updated and with more natural-appearing exhibits, still serves as home for gorillas and tropical bears.

The zoo's first zebras were exhibited.

Work began on a west entrance at Phinney Ave., in preparation for fencing the zoo for the first time.

A Childrens' Zoo was proposed by Ed Johnson.

A 1948 map shows a miniature train in place north of the Parks shops, the location it would occupy until its removal in 1980. It ran on 2,179 feet (.4 mi.) of track, across the current sites of the Elephant Forest and Trail of Vines. It was christened "Buffalo Barn and Southern" by Doug Welch. 

1949: Ocelot acquired from John Beck carnival in exchange for boarding fees.

1950: Started renovation of Primate House -- improving heating and air conditioning.

"Kiddyland" opened with 5 rides on the site of the old tennis courts (now the south parking lot). It had the original Ferris wheel and carousel with a new boat ride, auto ride, and streamliner train. Almost immediately, the area proved to be too small to deal with demand.

Frederick & Nelson donated a pair of jaguars.

Construction started on Feline House and bear grottos.

Fencing of the zoo started.

Seattle population 467,591

1951: Feline House (planned by Ed Johnson) opened. It was the first of its kind in the country with glass-fronted cages instead of bars. Animals could be moved from cage to cage by just one person using a unique trolley type cage (still in place and in use, 1999).

The Primate House renovation was completed.

Dr. Knudson passed away.

A guide/speaker program for children was inaugurated by Rev. Henry Post (died November 1951). It was not an official program but led to the establishment of one the following year.

The bear grottos were completed, considered "state of the art" at the time and attracted the attention of Marlin Perkins and his "Zoo Parade" show.

Zoo fencing completed.

1952: New restroom/concession stand opened near site of old bear cages, closed in 1990s. Giraffe/Kangaroo house (now called Australasia) funded by the City. Unfortunately, two giraffes captured in Africa and paid for by S. L. Savidge (a Seattle Chrysler dealer) were not allowed into the U.S. by the Dept. of Agriculture.

Position of Guide-Naturalist (an education staff person) as a formal program was approved. First to hold the title was Jack Alexander.

1,217 specimens, 313 species.

Woodland Park Zoo received animals from the Everett Zoo, which closed

1953: The zoo's first Animal Health Department completed, with X-Ray, minor surgery, necropsy room. Now referred to as Old Animal Health

Bobo the gorilla was purchased for $5500 -- the zoo's first gorilla and probably most-celebrated ever animal (Read more about the history of Bobo on

Tigers Tongou and Sultana were brought to the Zoo. They produced a total of 54 offspring at WPZ.

Great Northern Engine #1246 was installed near what is now the entrance to the Elephant Forest, just south of the Feline House along the main circulation path.

Because of parents' complaints (too crowded, lines too long, kids refuse to go on into the zoo) Kiddyland was relocated to the area just south of what is now the Thai Elephant Forest, then inside the trackage of the BB&S railway. Kiddyland was renamed Woodland Rides to appeal to teenagers. The rides were increased in number and quality. The move took place in 1953-54.

The former site of Kiddyland was converted into a 256 space parking area. Two new lots were also created along Phinney Ave.

Lion Samson acquired.

1954: A part-time veterinarian worked at zoo (a staffer for King Co. Health Dept.)

Reserpine was first used to immobilize animals for treatment

Experimental work with parasite drug Caracide was provided free by drug manufacturer.

In December, the KCTS show Buttons and His Buddies began, featuring zoo animals and a zoo staffer, first Jack Alexander, and later Frank Vincenzi, who had trained Buttons, a gibbon.

Giraffe Duke donated by S.L.Savidge.

1955: Acquired sea otter Susie. She was the first of her kind in a U.S. zoo.

Giraffe Duchess I was donated by S.L.Savidge.

1,571 specimens, 333 species.

1956: Elephant rides were inaugurated with Morgan Berry-owned elephants in the wading pool where the savanna is now located.

Construction was begun on a Great Ape House.

Tiger Sultana had a litter of five.

1.5 million to 2 million visitors (est.)

Who's Who at the Zoo was published. Author Gordon Newell (Parks Dept. Public Relations officer), illustrated by Don Sherwood.

"Elmer" the Safety Elephant (Cross Streets Safely) purchased with children's donations. The fund-raising drive was promoted by KING-TV. Elmer was a female African elephant, approximately 2 years old.

Gorilla "Fifi" was acquired by zoo in early December. She was to be Bobo's bride.

1957: Great Ape House was completed. All glass fronts, as in the Feline House. Twenty years later, the glass was salvaged and used in the viewing windows of the new gorilla exhibit.

Sultana had a litter of five.

A second sea otter was acquired.

Channel 4 (KOMO) and 5 (KING) had zoo guest appearances during the year. Buttons and his Buddies continued on KCTS.

Acquired "hero pigeons" Geronimo and Eureka from the Army Signal Corps, Ft. Monmouth, NJ. These were among the last of the noted Army carrier pigeons. Keeper Bill Cowell (died 1998), who worked at the zoo from about 1946 until the late 1980s, was discharged from the Homing Pigeon section of the Army Signal Corps immediately prior to coming to work at the zoo.

A pair of young orangutans was acquired: Elvis (I) and Sandra.

Tibetan camels Tib and Bet were acquired.

Lion Mach II had a litter of four.

1958: Flamingo exhibit featuring constructed. Site now occupied by east patio of Rain Forest Food Pavilion.

Sultana gave birth to a litter of four. Tiger cubs were going for $1,000 apiece then, real money in the Fifties.

1959: Sultana had a litter of five.

Zoo annual budget $211,420

Elephant moat constructed, sloping the yard down to a five-foot high wall.

Polar bear cub born.

Giraffe Duchess (I) died of an accidental injury (broken leg), 1 Aug.

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In 1960, Paul V. Brown, who had served as superintendent of parks since 1948, retired. By unanimous vote, the Parks Board designated zoo director Edward J. Johnson as acting superintendent.

Frank Vincenzi, who had begun at Woodland Park Zoo as a keeper in 1930, was made acting zoo director.

Also in 1960, a City bond issue was passed which allocated money for the construction of a children's zoo, new reptile house and a small mammal building. For several years, the Park Board debated about whether or not the children's zoo should be a sort of storybook land, with exhibits based on nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Fortunately (in this writer's opinion), this approach was abandoned in favor of a less fanciful one, designed by architect Fred Bassetti. Constructed in three stages, beginning in 1966, the Children's Zoo would eventually be renamed the Family Farm.

The reptile house, which opened in 1969, was called the Tropical House and kept that name until the 1990s, when a surfeit of WPZ exhibits with "tropical" in their names required that it be renamed. The Tropical and Nocturnal Houses (the latter completed in 1974) are now known as Day and Night Exhibits.

In spite of these improvements, the zoo wasn't moving forward as quickly as many community activists wished, and they began to pressure for change. As early as 1963, a local family picketed the elephant exhibit, to emphasize the need for a better home for the zoo's largest animals. It would be 25 years before their wish would be realized.

In 1965, the Seattle Zoological Society was formed. The organization's purpose was to mobilize public support and generate additional funding for zoo improvements. Its first goal was to raise money for construction of the second and third phases of the Children's Zoo construction. City bond funds from 1960 were only sufficient to pay for the first phase, "Foreign Friends Village."

In 1968, there was a change in the City of Seattle's government structure -- the Park Board lost its authority and became the Parks Advisory Board and the superintendent, who had previously reported to the Board, became responsible directly to the mayor. Ed Johnson was shifted from his position as Parks Superintendent to become director of Seattle Center, the position from which he would retire a few years later.

Also in 1968, six (of 13) Forward Thrust bond issues passed. Funds were set aside for the development of a master plan for Woodland Park Zoo, the first since the Olmsteds' in 1910. This was a pivotal moment in the zoo's history, and all the profound changes that have occurred at WPZ since the mid-1970s have been the result of the resolution to have a new plan for the zoo.

In 1972, Frank Vincenzi was reduced from acting zoo director to general curator. He had been at the zoo for over 40 years and was nearing retirement. Vincenzi's son, Dr. Frank Vincenzi, Jr., believes that this did not come as a blow to his father, that the senior Vincenzi was first and foremost an animal person. Being curator put Vincenzi closer to the animals he loved.

Jan van Oosten, an animal dealer and aviculturist who had been a founding member of the Seattle Zoological Society, was named director.

The Bartholick master plan (named for its principal designer, architect George Bartholick) called for large, naturalistic exhibits, but it contained a feature that became the focus of considerable controversy and eventually caused the plan's rejection. Bartholick would have placed a lid over Aurora, healing the cut that had sliced the park in two back in 1932. The zoo would also have expanded down into Lower Woodland Park, something that many park users strongly opposed. Opponents mobilized and organized, and when Bartholick's plan was put to a public vote in late 1974, it was soundly defeated. Director Van Oosten resigned just before the election. James W. Foster, the zoo's veterinarian, took over as acting director.

Mayor Wes Uhlman formed a citizens' task force -- a zoo commission -- to help formulate a new plan for the zoo. British architect David Hancocks, who had a background in zoo architecture and had worked with Bartholick on the rejected plan, was named design coordinator. A Seattle-based landscape architecture firm, Jones & Jones, was hired to do the design work.

In 1976, the City Council approved the Hancocks/Jones & Jones plan, which also featured naturalistic designs. Exhibits were grouped in "bioclimatic zones" to demonstrate the similarities of and differences between animals living in similar sorts of habitats all over the world.

The plan itself served as a sort of outline for the zoo's future development. The ideas, principles and philosophy that were delineated along with the plan's drawings were closely adhered to during the quarter-century of design and construction that followed.

That same year, David Hancocks became zoo director. He brought with him his revolutionary ideas on zoo design and zoo management. Once implemented, those ideas would not only stand the test of time, but would bring WPZ to the forefront of world zoos.

Woodland Park Zoo was about to begin a profound transformation, one that would take the remainder of the century to accomplish.

1960: Edward J. Johnson took over as Park Superintendent, Frank Vincenzi replaced him as acting Zoo Director.

Polar bear "Mischa," born during the winter, made her first public appearance that spring.

1,822 specimens, 397 species.

Seattle car dealer S.L.Savidge donated a new giraffe "Duchess (II)" on 3 Nov (see 1994).

A "Talking Storybooks" system from Audio Tours was installed at 45 exhibits throughout the zoo. Keys to operate the Talking Storybooks boxes were in the shape of elephants and cost fifty cents. The elephant key's trunk was inserted into the box to start a recorded message about the animals. 5,000 elephant keys were sold in the first 4.5 months. The Talking Storybooks were removed by the mid-`60's.

A moat and low guard rail, similar in style to the one around the elephant yard, replaced the old post and chain around the Camel Yard, .

Park Bond issue allotted $150,000 for a Children's Zoo.

1961: Interior improvements in Primate House: Skylights were enlarged, glass fronts added to interior cages to restrict offensive odors to the animal space (and human-carried disease to the visitor space).

1,840 specimens, 387 species.

Orangutan Elvis (I) died.

A new orang male was acquired from Morgan Berry: Elvis (II). Elvis II was the father of our twin orangutans Towan and Chinta. (see 1968)

Tiger Sultana had three more cubs.

Northern Pacific donated caboose #1313. It was converted into a zoo restroom and was located near the current site of the entrance to the Elephant Forest.

1962: Paramount Studios filmed releases for the movie "The Pigeon who took Rome" involving WPZ hero pigeon Geronimo (see 1957). Charlton Heston starred.

There was a fire at the Model Farm (now the Raptor Center), which was blamed on a cigarette tossed into hay by a visitor. There was only minor damage, though a draft horse, frightened by sirens, broke through a chain link fence.

A bison heifer was presented to the zoo by the State of Kansas, accepted by Washington Governor Albert Rosellini.

Two Kodiak bear cubs were born.

Tiger Sultana had a litter of five.

The old cement and steel bar bear cages were demolished, 11 years after they had been replaced by the bear grottos. Some of the zoo's peafowl had regarded these cages as home base, and with the cages' destruction, they wandered into surrounding neighborhoods. Initially, Vincenzi didn't seem too concerned, but finally, he asked that citizens lure them into garages with bread, trapping them so they could be picked up by zookeepers.

1,851 specimens, 380 species.

During and after the Century 21/World's Fair (Apr-Oct) rubber-tired zoo-liner trams were in operation, giving guided tour rides around the zoo. The zoo's records don't indicate when the trams were discontinued, although in 1964, the trams were losing money, and a cut in fares (from 50 cents to a quarter) was proposed.

At the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Director Vincenzi announced that, in the event of a nuclear attack, zoo staff would destroy the venomous snakes, using cyanide gas or chloroform. As if a stray rattlesnake would have been a significant concern during a nuclear war!

1963: Tiger Sultana had another litter of five.

A pool was constructed in the elephant yard.

A female Celebes "ape" (actually a macaque) was born at the zoo, the first in the U.S. 

1964: A male cheetah and a female chimpanzee "Candy" were donated.

The zoo received a Galapagos tortoise (for a total of two).

Geronimo, last of the "hero pigeons," (see 1957) died 26 July. His body was returned to Ft. Monmouth, NJ for internment with the others.

1964: A male cheetah and a female chimpanzee "Candy" were donated.

The zoo received a Galapagos tortoise (for a total of two).

Geronimo, last of the "hero pigeons," (see 1957) died 26 July. His body was returned to Ft. Monmouth, NJ for internment with the others. 

1965: Seattle Zoological Society (later Woodland Park Zoological Society) was formed. Dr. Walter A. Fairservis was the first, temporary president. There had been an attempt to form an organization of the same name in the 1950s, but it never got off the ground. There were 178 members first year. Membership cost $7.50 per family, $5 individual, $3 student. There was no admission fee at this time, so a membership was simply a contribution to support zoo improvements.

Approximately 30% of the zoo's funding came from concessions.

1,926 specimens

Contract awarded for Phase I of a Children's Zoo.

The Aviary featured an exhibit of 20 Ecuadorian hummingbirds, loaned to WPZ by future director Jan Van Oosten.

1966: 1,877 specimens.

SZS up to 500 members, 30 volunteer women trained as zoo guides, a forerunner of the zoo docent program.

An elephant fund campaign was begun.

8 snowy owls acquired. The last two of this group died in 1990 after having raised many offspring.

4th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, departing for Vietnam, donated their division mascot, a black leopard named "Black Jack Argo." He arrived at the zoo with a complete set of army personnel records, including his discharge papers.

Architect Fred Bassetti awarded the contract to design a small mammal house (which would be the Nocturnal House, later renamed Night Exhibit).

TV show "Buttons and his Buddies" was in its 12th year.

1967: First unit of the Children's Zoo -- "Foreign Friends Village" -- opened. Was constructed by Fred A. Lehn, Inc., for $141,617. This centered around a group of structures that includes one that is currently the home of "Bug" World (then it was the zoo nursery, for the care and exhibition of baby animals that had to be hand-raised). Other exhibits meant to appeal especially to children featured monkeys and giant tortoises.

Barbara Berry, daughter of famed elephant trainer Morgan Berry, was hired as animal attendant. She was then the only woman working at the zoo in animal care.

The low bid for the combined Tropical (reptile) and Small Mammal (nocturnal) houses was $300,000. This was $45,000 more than the amount available from the 1960 bond issue. The Park Board asked the City Council for the difference.

Elephant "Bamboo (I)" donated to WPZ by SZS, and was housed in the Children's Zoo.

Construction began on the Tropical House (now the Day and Night Exhibits).

Elephant "Wide Awake" died at age 54.

First docent class graduated.

A local organization, CHECC, (committee to CHoose an Effective City Council) was formed to advance the city councilperson campaigns of Tim Hill and Phyllis Lamphere. CHECC produced a a position statement that said that "the mismanagement and inadequate funding of the zoo make that facility a microcosm of almost all that is wrong with the Seattle parks system."

1,836 specimens, 381 species.

1968: Ed Johnson transferred from Park Superintendent to Director of the Seattle Center. Park Board loses its authority, becomes Parks Advisory Board.

1805 specimens.

Docent training conducted by UW professors of Biology and Zoology. Two classes of 25 each held, 60 docents now leading tours.

Orangutan twins "Towan" (male) and "Chinta" (female) born to Molly and Elvis (II). Towan and Chinta still at the zoo as of 2000.

Bobo died at age 17, without offspring. Post mortem showed that he had Kleinfelter's syndrome, a failure of his reproductive organs to mature.

Three young gorillas were donated anonymously. Only one, Nina, lived to adulthood. As of 2000, she was still alive, and is the mother of four adult gorillas. In 2000, she became a great-grandmother for the first time when her grandson, Paul Donn, fathered a baby at San Diego Wild Animal Park.

Elephant "Bamboo" (acquired 1967) died, was replaced with Bamboo (II), still at Woodland Park Zoo as of 2000.

Orangutan Molly died.

The Model Farm (soon to be known as the "Old Farm") partially burned on 15 May, the second of two fires there during the `60's.

Of the Forward Thrust bond issues that passed, $4 million was designated for the zoo.

The Children's Zoo closed for the winter due to 5% budget cuts city-wide. All four mayoral candidates decried this closure.

Betty Bartleson became the first woman zookeeper to be hired at Woodland Park since Melvina Kuempl's brief stint during World War II. Bartleson's hiring opened the door for more and more women to become zookeepers. Her story:

"I was hired as a nursery attendant to take over Barbara Berry's responsibilities as she was called upon to care full time for the twin orangs born in the winter of 1968. I worked there until I was hired as a keeper in 1969.

At the time I took the test, Frank [Vincenzi, zoo director] and the two foremen told me that I was welcome to take the test (no law against it), but they did not hire women as zookeepers. The city had no equal opportunity mandate so I had to accept what they said. After passing the test,I convinced Frank to hire me, with the agreement that after a year, we'd talk about other assignments.

There is of course more to the story, but I was the first woman zookeeper at WPZ and was there for 18 years…I'm proud of this accomplishment."

Betty Bartleson, 2002

1969: After 15 years, Jack Alexander retired from his post as the zoo's first educator. Keeper (now retired Curator of Reptiles) Ernie Wagner and Supervisor Myron Healy took over Alexander's role on Buttons and his Buddies, then in its 19th year on KOMO-TV.

Docents assumed responsibility for grounds tour program.

2 infant gorillas "Kiki" and "Pierrot" (renamed "Pete") donated by Mrs. Johnston. Pete still at zoo as of 2000.

Orang Elvis II died -- chimps moved into his vacated cage. A gang of young apes, both gorillas and orangutans, moved into the former chimp cage.

Tropical House (the new home for the zoo's reptiles) opened. The Seattle Zoological Society moved into the just-vacated former reptile house.

Children's Zoo closed for the winter again due to budget constraints.

State Senator Wes Uhlman called WPZ "a bush-league zoo" in the final days of his successful mayoral campaign, adding his voice to the many others that were then calling for comprehensive improvements at WPZ.

1970: Architect Fred Bassetti designed the remaining three phases of the Children's Zoo -- total cost $577,000. PONCHO (Patrons of Northwest Civic Cultural and Charitable Organizations) donated $50,000 of that. Construction began that same year.

The Parks Board hired architect George Bartholick to design a master plan for the zoo that would allow it to expand east of Aurora, into Lower Woodland Park. The $9.8 million conservatory that was a major feature of that plan would have been placed on top of the lid over Aurora Avenue. It would have had a translucent inflated roof, supported by cables and internal air pressure.

To conform with the new Master Plan, the number and types of animals were reduced. The plan provoked much discussion by politicians and others. Hot subjects included charging an entrance fee, governance (whether the zoo should be run by the city or by a non-profit organization) and administrative structure. At that time the zoo's "administrative structure" consisted only of two foremen (to oversee the keeper staff), the director and his secretary.

34 of 49 American zoos at the time charged admission, according to a survey. At the time, San Diego Zoo charged only $1.50 for adults and $.25 for children. Because WPZ did not charge admission, there were 19 gates around its perimeter through which visitors could freely come and go during the day.

The Seattle Zoological Society hosted an international symposium on "The Zoo of the Future."

Frank Vincenzi's salary as director was $12,000/year. Zoo staff numbered 37.

Jack Simmons (died 1992) took over the Zoo Guide-Naturalist program.

Commercially prepackaged food for carnivores replaced locally butchered horsemeat.

The Seattle Police Department had a mascot named "Daffodil," a pig who lived in the Children's Zoo and who sometimes left zoo grounds to attend police functions.

Bicycle racks were installed at zoo entrances.

There was a fund-raising drive to purchase African elephant "Watoto."

Giraffe "Duke" died.

1,519 specimens, 357 species, zoo's annual budget $453,795.24. At the same time, Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, which received a similar number of visitors each year, had a budget six times as large.

Seattle population: 530,831

1971: Elephant "Elmer" died (see 1956).

Dr. James W. Foster became WPZ's first full-time veterinarian.

African elephant "Watoto" acquired 15 July. She weighed only 880 lbs. on arrival.

Female gorilla "Fifi" sent to Honolulu Zoo. Efforts to breed her with Honolulu's male were fruitless, however. Fifi died in 1978.

Jan van Oosten named director 17 Nov. Van Oosten had been a founding member of the Seattle Zoological Society and was a research associate in tropical ornithology at the Puget Sound Museum of Natural History of Natural History at the University of Puget Sound. His actual paying job, however, just prior becoming zoo director was district supervisor for employee relations and training for Texaco-Spokane.

Parking fees initiated 7 Sept.

1,426 specimens, 398 species.

Assistant Keeper (and later Curator of Reptiles, still at WPZ in 2000) Frank Slavens began at Zoo. 

1972: PONCHO theater and the Farm Village section of Children's Zoo were completed.

Long Range Plan by architect George Bartholick approved by the City Council, but immediately ran into opposition because it would have placed a lid over Aurora Avenue and allowed the zoo to invade Lower Woodland Park.

A group calling itself "Save Woodland Park," with a nucleus of 85 active members, became an instant powerhouse on the city political scene. City officials had been of the opinion that new parks, such as Discovery, Magnuson and Gas Works, would offset the general use loss of Lower Woodland Park connected with the zoo expansion. Citizen activists did not buy that logic, and bitterly opposed the Bartholick plan.

There were two volunteer programs: students doing observational research and a committee of professionals in various fields who could be called on for consultation.

A pair of snow leopards, Nicholas and Alexandra, received as a gift from the USSR.

A WPZ guidebook, by Jack Simmons, produced by the SZS.

Jan van Oosten took charge of the zoo on 2 Jan. Vincenzi named general curator 15 Apr.

1973: Dave Towne (later Zoo Director) named Parks Superintendent.

"Save Woodland Park" begins a petition drive against the Bartholick plan. Many local chambers of commerce and community councils joined in the chorus of objections to the planned zoo expansion.

First snow leopard born at WPZ.

Closed-circuit TV first used for animal observations, such as monitoring the welfare of mothers and babies in their dens.

1974: Nocturnal House completed, opened the following year. The concrete shell for the building had been constructed at the same time as the Tropical House, with which it shares mechanical systems.

Policy of selective breeding with preference to endangered species is implemented.

Efforts made to trim the animal collection and shape it up by transfer and breeding.

906 specimens, 277 species.

Jan Van Oosten resigned from his position as zoo director. Then Superintendent of Parks Dave Towne said of Van Oosten, "I think he found working in a government structure `different' than working in private industry." Dr. James W. Foster, the zoo's veterinarian, was named Acting Director.

Voters rejected lidding of Aurora and expansion of the zoo into Lower Woodland Park. The City of Seattle and King County discussed developing a regional zoo outside Seattle, and converting Woodland Park Zoo entirely into a Children's Zoo.

1975: David Hancocks hired as Design Coordinator to develop a new Master Plan.

809 specimens, 258 species.

1976: Zoo commissary moved to former Parks Shops in SE corner of zoo.

Gorilla "Wanto" born to Nina and Pete.

There were daily walks by "Bamboo" and her keeper around the zoo grounds.

The new Master Plan was approved by City Council.

David Hancocks became zoo director, replacing acting director Dr. James Foster.

Orangutan Molly died.

The Model Farm (soon to be known as the "Old Farm") partially burned on 15 May, the second of two fires there during the `60's.

Of the Forward Thrust bond issues that passed, $4 million was designated for the zoo.

The Children's Zoo closed for the winter due to 5% budget cuts city-wide. All four mayoral candidates decried this closure.

Betty Bartleson became the first woman zookeeper to be hired at Woodland Park since Melvina Kuempl's brief stint during World War II. Bartleson's hiring opened the door for more and more women to become zookeepers. Her story:

"I was hired as a nursery attendant to take over Barbara Berry's responsibilities as she was called upon to care full time for the twin orangs born in the winter of 1968. I worked there until I was hired as a keeper in 1969.

At the time I took the test, Frank [Vincenzi, zoo director] and the two foremen told me that I was welcome to take the test (no law against it), but they did not hire women as zookeepers. The city had no equal opportunity mandate so I had to accept what they said. After passing the test,I convinced Frank to hire me, with the agreement that after a year, we'd talk about other assignments.

There is of course more to the story, but I was the first woman zookeeper at WPZ and was there for 18 years…I'm proud of this accomplishment."

Betty Bartleson, 2002

1976: Zoo commissary moved to former Parks Shops in SE corner of zoo.

Gorilla "Wanto" born to Nina and Pete.

There were daily walks by "Bamboo" and her keeper around the zoo grounds.

The new Master Plan was approved by City Council.

David Hancocks became zoo director, replacing acting director Dr. James Foster.

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By 1976, Woodland Park Zoo had only just begun to change in many important ways. During the early 1970s, for the first time, there was an awareness that zoos had a part to play in the preservation of endangered species. By the mid-70's professionalism was on the rise among the zookeepers, many of them newly-hired and university-educated. The addition of a full-time veterinarian to the zoo's staff had done much to elevate animal care standards. Work on the master plan filled the staff with hope and excitement.  

The international zoo community, and Woodland Park Zoo in particular, had recognized that animals seemed diminished when kept in sterile, artificial exhibits. Not only were the animals bored and miserable, they appeared to be caricatures of themselves, framed by concrete and wire. Was it any wonder that zoo visitors laughed and jeered at the gorillas?

The years that followed were a time of accelerated change, of new ideas and refinements at every level. Everything about the zoo's design and function was weighed against its four purposes, as stated in the new master plan: recreation, conservation, education, and research. For the first time, careful consideration was given to the zoo's interpretive signs. Thoughtful quotes about the way we perceive nature were placed low among the plantings along pathways between exhibits, where people might read them and perhaps examine their own attitudes about wild things and wild places.

The new exhibits that were constructed -- the African Savanna, Marsh and Swamp, Primate Islands, and the Gorilla exhibit -- were stunning. Animals moved into spacious habitats that really did resemble their natural homes. Some walked out onto green grass, or climbed trees beneath an open sky, for the first time in their lives.

No zoo had ever dared to exhibit gorillas in a naturalistic exhibit before, with grass, bushes and trees. Gorilla experts from all over the world predicted that the exhibit would soon be a wasteland with the gorillas having destroyed every shrub and every blade of grass. They were wrong, although the keepers did have to do a lot of replanting at night, until the novelty of being around growing things wore off for the gorillas. Best of all, the gorillas and other animals regained their dignity in their new, more natural surroundings, and were no longer objects of derision or pity.

The people of Seattle came, marveled and took real pride in their zoo for the first time. What they were seeing at Woodland Park Zoo was the cutting edge of zoo design. Also for the first time, they had to pay to enter the zoo, which began charging a modest admission in 1977. Charging admission had a tremendous and unanticipated benefit -- bad behaviors (e.g., feeding or harrassing the animals) dropped off dramatically. Apparently visitors who were willing to pay to enter had more of a feeling of respect for the animals and the park.

Another reform from about the same time -- discontinuing the selling of peanuts at zoo concessions -- was one of the best things that ever happened at WPZ. Not only did the selling of peanuts encourage public feeding of the animals, but the grounds and the exhibits were always covered with the shells. A more profound change at WPZ in the 1970s was the diversification of the work force. Thanks at first to Affirmative Action, the zookeeping staff, previously all-white and all-male, began to reflect the community's makeup.

Today it is hard to imagine a time when women didn't make up half the WPZ keeper workforce, when there were no women zookeepers at all, but it really was only a generation ago.

By the early 1980s, the Forward Thrust money was gone, the nation's economy was in a slump, and funding for public works projects, like continuing to improve the zoo, was hard to come by. WPZ had become an odd mix of the new and wonderful and the grossly antiquated. Monkeys were still housed in the 70-year-old Primate House. The elephants, by then numbering four, were living in the barn that had once been home to "Tusko" and "Wide Awake." The Aviary was rotting and needed to be pulled down. The zoo worked to raise public awareness of the zoo's remaining needs, of the considerable amount of unfinished work yet to be done. Parks and city administrators, however, saw the zoo as a way to gain support for a bond issue that would not only provide money for zoo improvements, but also funds to address the needs of the many other public parks. In the end, voters rejected the Parks Department's comprehensive improvement plan, leaving the zoo still going nowhere. By 1983, it was clear: the zoo needed money to complete the work it had begun. The papers had often carried interviews the philosophy behind the new exhibits was explained and created converts of nearly everyone who had read them and seen the changes at the zoo. This galvanized the media, the public and local activists. It was time to get Woodland Park Zoo back on track.

1977: First admission charged ($1.50 for adults, $.50 for seniors, teens and children). "Friends of the Zoo" formed to promote annual passes. Interior spaces in the Feline House, formerly sterile spaces covered with ceramic tile, made more natural through the use of soil, plants, logs, and leaf litter. 1,170 specimens, 295 species. African Savanna construction begins late in the year. Gorilla "Kamilah" born to "Nina" and "Pete."

1978: There were major disruptions caused by work on the Savanna site and on Primate Islands and the gorilla exhibit. WPZ is the only zoo in the world breeding Hartlaub's ducks and the only zoo in the Americas breeding snowy owls and Gila monsters. Qantas airlines donates a pair of wallaroos. Attacks on deer and sheep by dog packs. Mayor tried to use this to augment Animal Control funding rather than dealing with the zoo fencing. Fencing repairs and improvements happened anyway. Zoo admissions policy relaxed so that fees only charged about one third of the time. Strong public support for the fee policy. Frank Vincenzi passes away. Zoo receives conservation award from the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AAZPA) for the eagle rehabilitation program.

1979: Asian Primate (formerly Monkey Island, now Lemur Island, part of the rainforest exhibit complex) and Swamp and Marsh exhibits open, win American Society of Landscape Architects awards. The first naturalistic exhibit for gorillas in the world opens in August. In December, silverback Kiki escapes, is recaptured the same day in the kitchen of the Nocturnal House. Hippo "Waterlily" (born Houston Zoo, 1978) arrives. She is still at the zoo as of 2002. New enlarged naturalistic lion exhibit opens. WPZ's first red pandas arrive.

1980: Thai Airlines donates a baby Asian elephant, "Chai." African Savanna opened July. Savanna also receives American Society of Landscape Architects President's Award. Great Northern engine #1246 removed from WPZ. Sold to a fellow who indicated he would restore it, the old steam locomotive now languishes, partially disassembled, in a field in southwestern Oregon. Orangutan "Rusty" born. WPZ received the Humane Society of the U.S. "Top Rating" for American zoos.  Seattle population: 493,486.

1981: WPZ receives (Best New) Exhibit Award for African Savanna from the American Zoological Parks and Aquariums Association (AAZPA), now the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Thai Airlines donates another baby Asian elephant, "Sri". The administration building near the West Gate remodeled, expanded, renamed the Activities and Resource Center (ARC) and converted into a home for the zoo's expanding education department. Zoo administrators relocate their offices to the former gatekeeper's residence in the SE corner of the zoo ("the bungalow"). First penguin hatching at WPZ. The Humboldt penguin chick was successfully parent-reared.  

1982: New exhibits opened: Backyard Ecology, Snow Leopard, Australian tree kangaroo, and Wombat. New overlooks created at the African Savanna -- one for the Hippo Exhibit and the other at the south end of the Savanna. The latter serves as the Jimi Hendrix Memorial. Swirling sort-of-psychedelic patterns of purple and orange tile were placed on the walkway and purple shrubberies (both attempts to evoke "Purple Haze") were planted all around. A brass star was placed on one of the artificial rocks, inscribed with a notation that the overlook is dedicated to the memory of the legendary guitarist. WPZ hosted the Third International Snow Leopard Symposium. Seattle Zoological Society funded much-needed renovation of the Pheasantry (now the Conservation Aviary).

1983: In December, David Hancocks gave notice of his resignation as zoo director, citing frustration with the city over the lack of funds to continue the zoo's improvements. He left his post in April of the following year.

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