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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Bactrian Camel (probably Nile, see 1922)
acquisitions were funded for the first time. Previously,
acquisitions were only by donations or trades.
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.
Gus "Doc" Knudson, D.V.M., retired at age
J. Johnson, zoo employee since 1926, was appointed
director on 1 Sept.
Pool (now the penguin exhibit) completed.
new Pony Barn and pony ring were constructed. These
are the barn and ring still at the zoo in 1999.
administration building was constructed (in the 1970s
it was remodeled and enlarged, and became the ARC
building, near 55th and Phinney).
old zoo barn near the west entrance was removed.
Aviary was completed on December 5.
bond issue was passed, and $800,000 was allotted for
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
zoo's first zebras were exhibited.
began on a west entrance at Phinney Ave., in preparation
for fencing the zoo for the first time.
Childrens' Zoo was proposed by Ed Johnson.
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.
acquired from John Beck carnival in exchange for boarding
renovation of Primate House -- improving heating and
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.
started on Feline House and bear grottos.
of the zoo started.
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).
Primate House renovation was completed.
Knudson passed away.
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.
bear grottos were completed, considered "state
of the art" at the time and attracted the attention
of Marlin Perkins and his "Zoo Parade" show.
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.
of Guide-Naturalist (an education staff person) as
a formal program was approved. First to hold the title
was Jack Alexander.
specimens, 313 species.
Park Zoo received animals from the Everett Zoo, which
zoo's first Animal Health Department completed, with
X-Ray, minor surgery, necropsy room. Now referred
to as Old Animal Health
was purchased for $5500 -- the zoo's first gorilla
and probably most-celebrated ever animal.
Tongou and Sultana were brought to the Zoo. They produced
a total of 54 offspring at WPZ.
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.
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.
former site of Kiddyland was converted into a 256
space parking area. Two new lots were also created
along Phinney Ave.
part-time veterinarian worked at zoo (a staffer for
King Co. Health Dept.)
was first used to immobilize animals for treatment
work with parasite drug Caracide was provided free
by drug manufacturer.
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.
Duke donated by S.L.Savidge.
sea otter Susie. She was the first of her kind in
a U.S. zoo.
Duchess I was donated by S.L.Savidge.
specimens, 333 species.
rides were inaugurated with Morgan Berry-owned elephants
in the wading pool where the savanna is now located.
was begun on a Great Ape House.
Sultana had a litter of five.
million to 2 million visitors (est.)
Who at the Zoo was published. Author Gordon
Newell (Parks Dept. Public Relations officer), illustrated
by Don Sherwood.
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
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
had a litter of five.
second sea otter was acquired.
4 (KOMO) and 5 (KING) had zoo guest appearances during
the year. Buttons and his Buddies continued
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.
pair of young orangutans was acquired: Elvis (I) and
camels Tib and Bet were acquired.
Mach II had a litter of four.1958: Flamingo
exhibit featuring constructed. Site now occupied by
east patio of Rain Forest Food Pavilion.
gave birth to a litter of four. Tiger cubs were going
for $1,000 apiece then, real money in the Fifties.
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
cubs, actual year unknown.
had a litter of five.
annual budget $211,420
moat constructed, sloping the yard down to a five-foot
bear cub born.
Duchess (I) died of an accidental injury (broken leg),
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