The "New" New Milwaukee County Zoo ~ 1985-present

Image of Charles Wikenhauser, Zoo director from 1990 to present


Charles Wikenhauser began his tenure as Zoo Director, which continues to this day.  He is credited with a number of zoological innovations.  At the Pittsburgh Zoo, where he had been the director since 1985, he was responsible for the development of natural exhibits such as an African savannah and a Caribbean aquarium.  While the director of the Glenn Oak Zoo in Peoria, Illinois, Wikenhauser changed the atmosphere from that of a carnival to one of a true zoo where the emphasis focused on conservation and school programs.  He is a strong advocate for a scientific and conservational institution, while maintaining the Milwaukee County Zoo’s popularity as a family-oriented recreational resource. 

Also in 1990, the newly renovated sea lion exhibit was unveiled, featuring three underwater viewing windows.  Designed to replicate the animals’ natural habitats, the renovation featured an enlarged beach area.  The cost of the renovation was $465,000.  The Taylor Family Humboldt Penguin exhibit also officially opened to the public in 1988.  The exhibit featured a landmass closely resembling the penguins natural habitat that included built-in nesting burrows.  A fully automated sand system was installed to ensure that all 15,000 gallons of water remained crystal clear for underwater viewing, and a state of the art heater kept the temperature at a comfortable 50 degrees.  The Zoo has made a commitment to the breeding and propagation of the Humboldt penguin, an endangered species.

Image taken by Michael Nepper