1930 to 1939

Significant events from 1930 to 1939:

1931: A letter to the editor of a Cleveland newspaper pointed a finger at “the world’s worst zoo”. There were 420 animals at the zoo. However, 300 of them were domestics – ponies, ducks, geese, pigeons, rabbits, etc.

1934: The Cuyahoga County Relief Administration, as part of the Federal Work Relief organization, decided to devote time and labor to the zoo. The first project was a “monkey island” based on similar exhibits in Chicago, Detroit and Toledo. Using material from the old Superior Viaduct and the Ajax Building in downtown Cleveland, Monkey Island rose up “like a phoenix from the ashes of the depression” and was ready for occupancy.

1935: Monkey Island opened on Sunday, June 21st. On August 11th the first Cleveland Zoological Society was formed. However, this effort was a failure.

1936:A children’s area was completed by the Works Project Administration, but was severely damaged by vandals before it officially opened.

1937: Thirty six hundred WPA laborers were sent to Brookside Park. With incomplete working plans, they worked on a project to remodel the zoo and lay out a large athletic center west of the zoo.

1938:The sea lion pool, which was started in 1936, was completed. It was learned that the cost of a sea lion was $340, but the cost of feeding it would be an additional $600 per year. Therefore, the purchase of sea lions was turned down, and the zoo had an empty $60,000 exhibit.

1939: Legislation was introduced in Cleveland City Council to abolish the zoo at Brookside Park. The formation of a Zoological Society was again proposed, this time by the Cleveland Federation of Women’s Clubs.