1960 to 1969

Significant events from 1960 to 1969:

1959:January 19th brought the flood that destroyed the zoo’s reptile collection, housed in the basement of the main building. The Children’s Farm was dedicated on May 18th. “Bongo Days” were celebrated in July. “Karen”, the female bongo antelope, was the world’s only bongo in captivity at the time. The old ostrich house was renovated and a new wing was added to accommodate the bongo.

1961:On March 26th, to commemorate their Golden Anniversary, the Cleveland Camp Fire Girls gave a totem pole to the zoo. It was placed in the picnic area west of monkey island. Ground was broken on June 16th for construction of a lion and tiger moat, the first step in the modernization program in the master development plan.

1962:On April 25th, the new lion and tiger veldt was dedicated. A honeybee exhibit, which proved extremely popular, was installed in the pachyderm building in June. On September 15th, the zoo celebrated its 80th birthday.

1963:“Karen”, the bongo, welcomed “Biff”, a male from West Africa. Four sculptures by William M. McVey, originally done for Leisy’s Brewery, were donated to the zoo by Leisy’s. There were two goats and two polar bears in the zoo gardens. The Leonard C. Hanna Fund allotted $300,000 for the construction of a new administration-education center.

1964:The new administration-education center was dedicated on June 11th. The zoo was once again flooded on July 28th. One million dollars was earmarked for the zoo by the City of Cleveland. The money was to be used for new bear grottos.

1965:The first pygmy hippopotamus born at the zoo made its appearance on June 29th. Ostrich races were run on the zoo’s mall on July 9th and 10th. The Cleveland Orchestra performed at the zoo for the third successive year.

1966:On December 4th, the zoo’s male gorilla, “Timmy”, was acquired from the Memphis zoo. He had a chartered private plane fly him to Cleveland. Timmy and the pilot were the only ones on the plane.

1967:Public Service Director Charles Voracek and Assistant Superintendent Ronald Seeley presented animal programs outside the zoo for physically and mentally handicapped people, pediatric ward patients, nursing home patients, and at other facilities where people were not mobile enough to visit the zoo. On August 16th, the one-millionth visitor passed through the barnyard gate of the Children’s Farm.

1968:On July 2nd, the zoo experienced a first in its animal collection when twin male pronghorn antelopes were born. The twins were the mother pronghorn’s first, and the first ever born at the Cleveland Zoo.

1969:The new moated bear grottos and hoofed animal and bird exhibits opened. The bear grottos featured four species – Kodiak, Eurasian Brown, Japanese Black and Malayan Sun. The oldest tree on the zoo grounds, a white oak, which had been standing in 1796 when Moses Cleaveland conducted a survey party to the mouth of the Cuyahoga River and established a settlement there, was felled by a Cleveland Shade Trees Division Crew. A count of the rings revealed the tree to be at least 270 years old.

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