Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Brief History of The Central Park Zoo

The history of the central park zoo begins with the establishment of the park 1853.  The first animals displayed in the parks menagerie where gifts given to the park.  One of the first animals displayed was a bear cub left in the care of a messenger boy.  In 1861 a portion of the park was turned into a zoological garden where bears, swans, elephants, monkeys and lions where displayed.

image source

The zoo was very popular but many of the animals where kept in inhumane conditions in tiny cages and the smell of the zoo drew complaints from park goers and wealthy residents of fifth avenue.   In 1934 the zoo was reopened with supposedly better conditions and in 1961 a children's zoo was added:

Image Source

However, the zoo still drew criticism for its cramped conditions.  By the 1980s it was in serious need of repair and attendance had declined sharply.  A five year remodeling project involved removing the old fashioned cages in favor of more natural settings and repairing and modernizing the buildings.  Most of the larger animals where moved to the Bronx Zoo.  Today the zoo is still small but very popular, with the highlight being the sea lion exhibit.  My husband and I visit regularly and it is one of my favorite places in Manhattan:

 My favorite part of the zoo is the animals that would naturally be in the central park environment, the turtles, farm animals, and swans.

There are also more parrots and monkeys and some snow leopards, which where hiding on the day I visited.

The most famous part of the central park zoo is the sea lion pool.


Its certainly not on the subject of the zoo but I wore one of my favorite vintage outfits to visit, proof that vintage can be comfortable and practical.  The skirt and blouse set I am wearing is a hand made piece from the 1930s that I got from Adelines Attic on Etsy.   The coconut purse is 1940s and from ebay.   My hat is a reproduction.  I got it on sale from Anthroplogie but I think it really looks like an authentic 1920s hat.
If you are ever in Manhattan I thoroughly recommend a trip to the Central Park Zoo.  Its a get site with adorable animals and a bit of history and its a quick visit!




  1. Central Park Zoo looks like a relaxing way to spend a pretty day. One of the nicest things at a good zoo is the horticulture, providing an Edenlike feel to the entire experience. The reputable zoos in the U.S. all have done major makeovers in the last few decades in response to the public's growing appreciation for humane standards of animal care. I love a good zoo (and shudder at the roadside ones).

  2. Love the outfit!
    Beautiful photos as well!
    Thanks so much for linking up!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  3. Mom lived there, been there and never knew. Thank you
    Lily & Edward

  4. Love your hat and outfit. We have a very small zoo here that only has animals native to our area. There are elk, deer, mountain goats, birds. The grizzly bear exhibit has just recently been totally redone complete with a stream and fish so it is closer to their natural environment
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Greta

  5. I've visited Central Park before but never a zoo. Didn't know it had such long history, and glad the zoo has improved for animals. Love your outfit and the purse is so pretty!

  6. It has bee YEARS since SHE visited the Central Park Zoo. It's so nice that zoos have become more natural for animals. We have a breeding zoo just down the street, and all the animal enclosures are as natural as possible.

    XXXOOO Bella & Roxy

  7. I love the before and after pics of the Zoo. BTW, love your outfit!

    Happy Thoughtless Thursday!

  8. That was great and our zoo too have strived to be more natural and to use the keeping of wild animals for breeding and not just for the viewing public. Lovely outfit. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  9. Such a cute 1930s outfit, and it totally suits you. I've been to Central Park before, but never saw nor knew about the zoo. Albeit I was an eighteen year old tourist at the time and had no clue where anything was. Maybe one day I'll get back to New York. Thanks for sharing the history. I always enjoy learning about the history of such places.

  10. Enjoyed reading the history of the zoo and seeing all the pictures.
    Love your outfit, the hat does look authentic, I've been looking out for hats lately.


Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...