Building the New Milwaukee County Zoo ~ 1947-1960

Image of George Speidel, zoo director from 1947 to 1978


George Speidel became Zoo Director until 1978.  He received his training from Edward Bean, the first Zoo Director of the Washington Park Zoo.  Speidel believed to be a good director, knowledge could only be gained through hands-on experience.  This working knowledge, he believed, included the feeding and caring of all the animals under his charge.  He is also credited with being the driving force behind the building and development of the Milwaukee County Zoo throughout the 1950s and 1960s.  Speidel dreamt of a geographic zoo that showed animals in a realistic setting.  He envisioned a zoo without bars and fences, where animals would be separated by wide, deep moats, allowing visitors to view the animals in panorama.

In April 1947, Sultana the polar bear passed away of paralysis at the age of 37.  She is credited with starting the Washington Park Zoo’s polar bear dynasty.  She gave birth to 12 cubs, 11 of which grew to maturity.

Image taken by E.P. Koshollek