Woodland Park Zoo Historical and Administrative Records, 1889-2006  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Woodland Park Zoo
Title
Woodland Park Zoo Historical and Administrative Records
Dates
1889-2006 (inclusive)
(bulk)
Quantity
6.6 cubic feet, (17 boxes)
Collection Number
8601-01
Summary
Historical records collected by zoo staff.
Repository
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
98124-4728
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-233-7807
Fax: 206-386-9025
archives@seattle.gov
Access Restrictions

Records are open to the public.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The Woodland Park Zoo began its existence as a small private animal collection established by Seattle developer Guy C. Phinney (1852-1893) on the northwest corner of his 179-acre Woodland Park Estate. This menagerie included North American animals like deer and black bear, as well as more exotic specimens like African ostriches. After Phinney's death in 1893, the property remained in limbo until the City purchased it from Phinney's widow in 1899 for $100,000, despite a veto by Mayor Thomas D. Humes. It became a part of the municipal parks system and was overseen by the Department of Parks and Recreation. The menagerie grew in 1903, when the animals from a private zoo in Leschi Park were absorbed, providing the foundation from which Woodland Park Zoo would grow.

The zoo developed gradually during its first half-century. New facilities like the Lion House (completed 1919) and the Beaver Pool (completed 1936) were periodically opened and populated with new specimens brought in from around the world. Controversy arose in 1932 when, against fierce public opposition, the city went forward with plans to construct a six-lane highway (now Aurora Avenue) directly through Woodland Park, separating the zoo from the larger lower park area to the east. Historical events affected the zoo's operation, as with slashed budgets and near closure during the Great Depression, and an anti-aircraft gun emplacement in the North Meadow during World War II.

The postwar period featured more rapid expansion as well as a growing incorporation into municipal society. Buoyed by municipal bond issues in 1948 ($800,000) and 1960 ($150,000), the zoo completed a diverse set of new facilities, including an Animal Health Department (completed 1953) and the Great Ape House (completed 1957). A longtime inhabitant of the latter building was a male lowland gorilla named Bobo, who was the zoo's most famous resident from 1953 until his death in 1968. The zoo's profile was raised further in 1954 by the new KCTS children's program "Buttons and his Buddies," which followed zoo animals and staff during its 17-year run on the air. The most consequential development of this time, ultimately, may have been the 1965 founding of the Seattle Zoological Society (later Woodland Park Zoological Society) as a promotional and fund-raising organization auxiliary to the Parks Department.

The zoo received a significant financial boost in 1968, when the Forward Thrust program earmarked $4 million for a program of facility building and improvement at Woodland Park. The City enlisted a team led by architect George Bartholick to construct a long-range design plan. The Bartholick Plan, as it was known, envisioned a zoo of larger and more naturalistic exhibit spaces, but also - and more controversially - a connection to the lower park via a lid over Aurora Avenue. Concerned over the potential effect on existing park space, a citizen coalition called Save Woodland Park led a movement in opposition that resulted in the plan's 1974 defeat by public vote. Mayor Wes Uhlman then empanelled a task force of citizens and experts to formulate a new strategy, which eventually resulted in the Hancocks/Jones & Jones Plan, approved in 1976. Though less ambitious than the Bartholick Plan, the Long-Range Plan still incorporated naturalistic elements in the form of ecology-based "bioclimatic zones" into the design, setting a conceptual benchmark for future development.

Guided by the Long-Range Plan as well as growing public interest in issues of zoological conservation, Woodland Park Zoo subsequently committed to creating facilities that closely resembled the natural habitats of their animals. For example, 1979 saw the opening of the Lowland Gorilla exhibit, one of the first in the world to exchange generic cage space for native flora and landscaping for large primates. Following the exhaustion of Forward Thrust funds in the early 1980s, the zoo entered a period of financial stagnation, partially alleviated by donations and admission fees (first charged in 1977). Public concern in 1984 prompted Mayor Charles Royer to empanel a Zoo Commission of citizens, staff, labor representatives and civic leaders to consider the problem. The report published the following year recommended a new round of county bond issues for needed capital improvements. Passed by voters that November, the bonds generated $31.5 million, along with $10 million in private matching donations, and resulted in facilities like the Asian Elephant Forest exhibit (completed 1989).

New funding concerns prompted the creation of the Zoo Commission II in 1995 to formulate a fresh round of recommendations. In its report, the commission criticized the zoo's managerial organization, which split tasks between the City's Department of Parks and Recreation and the private Woodland Park Zoological Society, as cumbersome and wasteful of money and effort. In response, the City Council voted in 2001 to consolidate zoo administration under the Society. Under the terms of the 20-year contract signed in 2002, the Society was designated to take over full management of the zoo. The City oversees the contract and provides annual public funding. Today the zoo maintains a reputation for excellence among U.S. zoos for exhibits and education programs, and its 1,100 animal specimens attract over a million visitors per year.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, reports, minutes, brochures, and other historical records collected by zoo staff. Topics covered include specific animals and exhibits, zoo management and personnel, bond issues, and long-range planning. A run of the Director's chronological correspondence is included, as well as daily logs noting things like animal births and deaths, feed purchases, and visitor incidents and accidents. The series also includes some records of the Seattle Zoological Society, including agreements, minutes, and correspondence. Records related to Tusko the elephant (deceased 1933) and the Save Our Elephants campaign (1984-1985) are also in this collection, including photographs of the elephants.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item and date], Woodland Park Zoo History File, Record Series 8601-01. Box [number], Folder [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

8601-01:  Woodland Park Zoo Historical and Administrative Records, 1889-2006,   (bulk ) Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Admissions and Revenue Sources
1959-1962
1/2
Animal Care / Health
1941-1993
1/3
Animal Naming
1976-1996
1/4
Animals and Exhibits
1977-1980
1/5
April Fools
1987
1/6
Annual Report Information
1972
1/7
Annual Report Information
1976
1/8
Annual Report Information
1977
1/9
Annual Report Information
1978
1/10
Arts
1978-1992
1/11
Association of Zoo and Aquarium Docents Report
1998
1/12
Awards
1993
1/13
Aviary
1974-1978
1/14
Bond Issues
1947-1981
1/15
Breeding Loans
1972-1978
2/1
Camp Fire Hippo
1978-1979
2/2
Children's Zoo
1967-1976
2/3
Chongqing Zoo Exchange (includes photos)
1991-1992
2/4
Collection Plan
2000
2/5
Comprehensive Plan / Forward Thrust
1974-1976
2/6
Conservation
1993-1997
2/7
Correspondence
1906-1948
2/8
Correspondence
1937-1939
2/9
Correspondence
1941-1947
2/10
Correspondence
1948
2/11
Correspondence
1949
2/12
Correspondence
1950
2/13
Correspondence
1951
2/14
Correspondence
1952
3/1
Correspondence
1953
3/2
Correspondence
1954
3/3
Correspondence
1955
3/4
Correspondence
1956
3/5
Correspondence
1957
3/6
Correspondence
1958
3/7
Correspondence
1959
3/8
Correspondence
1960
3/9
Correspondence
1961
4/1
Correspondence
1962
4/2
Correspondence
1963-1964
4/3
Daily Logs
1941
4/4
Daily Logs
1942
4/5
Daily Logs
1943
4/6
Daily Logs
1944
4/7
Daily Logs
1945
4/8
Daily Logs
1946
4/9
Daily Logs
1947
4/10
Daily Logs
1948
4/11
Design Commission
1975-1976
4/12
Docents
1972-1975
5/1
Docents
1976-1980
5/2
Drawings
1947-1978
5/3
Education
1951-1989
5/4
Education - Teacher's Workshops
1978
5/5
Education Center
1994
5/6
Elephants
1981-1996
5/7
Employee Notebook
1981
5/8
Escapes
1993-1996
5/9
Escapes
1997-2000
5/10
Feline House Renovation
1977-1978
5/11
Friends of the Zoo
1977
5/12
Golden Monkey Exhibit
1986
5/13
Gorilla Name Contest
1968
5/14
Horticulture / Landscaping
1956-1982
6/1
Koala Loan
1984-1988
6/2
Legislative Issues
1966-1974
6/3
Legislative Issues
1974-1980
6/4
Long-Range Plan
1976-1977
6/5
Management
1982-1984
6/6
Master Plan
1973
6/7
Mayor's Zoo Action Task Force
1974-1975
6/8
News Releases
1975-1997
6/9
Open Air Theater / Habitat Presentations
1980-1986
6/10
Organization and Job Descriptions
1973
6/11
Personnel and Pay Scales
1960-1962
6/12
Phinney Ridge Community Council
1977-1980
7/1
Policies and Procedures
1975-1993
7/2
Reorganization
1985-1986
7/3
Safety and Accidents
1940-1984
7/4
Savanna Exhibit
1980-1991
7/5
Save Our Elephants Campaign
1983-1988
7/6
Sculptures / Memorials
1925-1981
7/7
Seattle Puppetory Theatre
1979
7/8
Seattle Zoological Society
1965-1973
7/9
Seattle Zoological Society
1974-1976
7/10
Seattle Zoological Society
1977
7/11
Seattle Zoological Society
1978
7/12
Seattle Zoological Society
1979
8/1
Seattle Zoological Society
1980-1996
8/2
Seattle Zoological Society - Agreements with City
1972-1983
8/3
Seattle Zoological Society - Articles of Incorporation
1965-1971
8/4
Seattle Zoological Society - Board and Staff
1977-1998
8/5
Seattle Zoological Society - Minutes
1972-1980
8/6
Seattle Zoological Society - Minutes
1981-1984
8/7
Seattle Zoological Society - Minutes
1978-1985
8/8
Seattle Zoological Society - Fund Raising
1971-1984
8/9
Seattle Zoological Society - Health and Research Committee
1972-1975
9/1
Seattle Zoological Society - Promotions
1979
9/2
Seattle Zoological Society - Treasurer's Reports
1976-1984
9/3
75th Anniversary
1979
9/4
Slaughter Stock
1931
9/5
Speeches and Articles
1973
9/6
Staff Workshop
1987
9/7
Summer Concerts
1986-1996
9/8
Trees and Plants
1987-1991
9/9
Tropical House
1982
9/10
Tropical Rain Forest Exhibit
1992
9/11
Tusko the Elephant
1932-1933
9/12
Volunteers
1981-1990
9/13
Waterfowl Exhibit
1977-1978
9/14
Zoo History
1900-1993
9/15
Zoo Notes in Park Board Minutes
1946-1963
9/16
"Zoo of the Future" Conference
1970
9/17
Zoo Parents
1984-1985
9/18
Zoo Survey
1984
10/1
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1988
10/2
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1989
10/3
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1990
10/4
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1991
10/5
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1992
10/6
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1993
10/7
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1993
11/1
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1994
11/2
Zoo Impact Advisory Committee [Neighborhood Relations]
1994
11/3
Zoo Perception Research and Focus Group Questionnaire
1991
11/4
Parking Garage Feedback and Open Houses
2005-2006
11/5
Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Projects and Parking Garage
2002-2006
11/6
Neighborhood Relations and Parking Garage
2005-2006
11/7
Neighborhood Relations and Parking Garage Feedback
2005-2006
11/8
Public Official Speeches and Statements about the Zoo
1993-1994
11/9
King County Zoo Bond Issues
1985
11/10
Henry Moore Art Portfolio Etchings
1987
12/1
Seattle Zoological Society, Correspondence
1980-1989
12/2
Woodland Park Zoological Soceity, Minutes
1986-1988
12/3
Woodland Park Zoological Soceity, Minutes
1989-1991
12/4
Highlights from Board of Park Commissioners Minutes
1902-1947
12/5
Zoo Commission and Public Fundraising Committee
1984
13/1
Keeper's Guide to the Zoos of the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers, in association with Far West Regional Conference. Point Defiance, Tacoma; Stanley Park, Vancouver; Woodland Park, Seattle
1970
13/2
David Hancock [Director] Weekly Zoo Status Reports
1982-1984
13/3
Letter to Mayor Royer after resignation of David Hancock
1984
13/4
A brief survey of non-human primate behavior, for UW Anthropology 380 course [with photographic prints]
1956
13/5
One year study of the Woodland Park Zoological Garden Snow Leopards by Docents Phyllis and Les Riggs
1982
13/6
International Snow Leopard Trust Correspondence
1984
13/7
Bibliography and Research Sources for Woodland Park Zoo History
1991
13/8
Inventory of Movies and Films Created by Woodland Park Zoo
1999
13/9
"Early Days at the Zoo" Cue Sheet / Movie Timestamp Identifications
1935-1955
13/10
"Pony Club" Cue Sheet / Movie Timestamp Identifications
1935
13/11
Legislation
1979-1984
13/12
Legislation
1983
13/13
Funding
1984
14/1
Zoo Administrative Correspondence
1981
14/2
Zoo Administrative Correspondence
1982
14/3
Zoo Administrative Correspondence
1983
14/4
Zoo Administrative Correspondence
1984
14/5
Zoo Administrative Correspondence
1985
14/6
Zoo Administrative Correspondence
1986
14/7
Loan Agreements for Photos and Artifacts
1999
14/8
Visitor Guestbook ["Out of Town Visitors Who Registered at the Woodland Park Zoological Gardens"]
1939
14/9
History Chronology, Timeline and News Clippings
1889-1987
14/10
Collected Zoo Histories
1900-1988
14/11
Newsclippings and Correspondence - Frank Vincenzi
undated
14/12
Newsclippings, Gus Knudson [photocopied]
undated
14/13
Newsclippings [photocopied]
undated
15/1
Photographs - Woodland Park Zoo Elephants, including Tusko.
undated
15/2
Tusko the Elephant, Newsclippings
1933
15/3
Tusko the Elephant, Early Histories
1890-1932
15/4
Tusko the Elephant, Correspondence
1932-1934
15/5
Tusko the Elephant, Newsclippings
circa 1932
15/6
Tusko the Elephant, Costs
1932
15/7
Tusko the Elephant, Fund Campaigns
1933
15/8
Tusko the Elephant, Last Days and Death
1932-1933
15/9
Tusko the Elephant, Post-Mortem
1933
15/10
Elephants
1961-1989
15/11
Elephants, Newsclippings [photocopied]
1920-1929
15/12
Zoo History, Timeline, and 1 photgraph of Baby Orangutans
1900-1950
15/13
Capital Campaign - Kresge Foundation
1991
15/14
Long Range Plan
1986
16/1
Save Our Elephants, Printed campaign materials
1984-1985
16/2
Save Our Elephants
1984-1985
16/3
Save Our Elephants
1984-1985
17/1
Save Our Elephants
1975-1984
17/2
Save Our Elephants
1984
17/3
Save Our Elephants
1984-1985
17/4
Save Our Elephants
1985
17/5
Save Our Elephants
1984-1989

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Parks and Playgrounds
  • Zoo animals--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Zoos--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Corporate Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.). Dept. of Parks and Recreation
  • Seattle Zoological Society
  • Woodland Park Zoo
  • Woodland Park Zoo
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle
  • Seattle (Wash.)