1950 to 1959

Significant events from 1950 to 1959:

1950: On August 17th, the zoo’s new beaver and otter pool was dedicated. The new bird building was dedicated in October. The building was one of the finest of its kind at the time and added a new dimension in the exhibition of ornithological specimens at the zoo. When new cages were installed in the main building in December, the reptile display was moved to the basement.

1951: A teacher was assigned to the zoo by the Cleveland Board of Education. His task was to conduct animal science classes at the zoo, a living classroom.

1952: The zoo’s first tour trains began operating. They were purchased from Greyhound Lines, who had operated them at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, and the New York World’s Fair in 1940. In the fall, a beautification program was completed in the area surrounding the bird building and waterfowl lake.

1953: An improved children’s zoo was a great attraction this year. There were new rides and a small scale fairy tale theme park.

1954: A contract to build the zoo’s new pachyderm building was awarded. The cost would be $600,000. It would house elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami and giraffes. A new tour train was added to the in-grounds transportation system, bringing the total to four. There was even a tour train providing transportation from the new parking area off Fulton Parkway to the zoo grounds.

1955: Friends of the Zoo funds were used to build a tropical greenhouse in which exotic plants and flowers would be propagated to provide greenery in the bird building and other areas.

1956: The new pachyderm building was dedicated on Sunday, May 13th. Its appearance was enhanced by mammoth and mastodon terra cotta reliefs, sculptured by Viktor Schreckengost, at the entranceways.

1957: The 75th anniversary of the zoo was celebrated on March 13th. The newly-formed Cleveland Zoological Society assumed management responsibilities of the zoo in April. One of the first projects of the Zoological Society was an improved and expanded Children’s Zoo.

1958: In January, a fund of $1,000 was set aside to study the possibility of a transfer of the zoo to county ownership. Construction of the new Children’s Farm was begun in May, thanks to the Rotary Club of Cleveland.

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.


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