Friday, January 6, 2012

Bear Exhibit--Seattle Zoo

In 1887, a wealthy mill owner and real estate developer named Guy C. Phinney paid $10,000 for 342 acres of land along what we now call Phinney Ridge and down the slope to
Green Lake. He kept 180 acres for himself and spent $40,000 constructing an elegant English-style estate, complete with formal garden and he named it “Woodland Park”. There was a conservatory, promenade, hunting lodge, the “Woodlands Hotel (located where the African Savanna exhibit is today),” and even a menagerie. The animal collection featured North American animals like black bear and deer, but there were African ostriches as well. Phinney generously opened his estate to the public as long as they obeyed his conspicuously posted rules. He permitted no foul language, firearms or dogs. Living things, plants and animals alike, were protected from abuse of any kind. Guy Phinney died in 1893 and his widow Nellie tried to keep up the property but finally sold it to the City of Seattle in 1899 for $100,000. In 1902, the Olmsted Brothers, a famous Boston architectural firm that had designed Central Park in New York, was hired to plan all of Seattle’s parks, including the zoo. In 1903, a small private zoo at Leschi Park closed and the animals were moved to Woodland Park. In 1910, the Olmsted brothers designed bear pits and cages. In 1976, architects from Jones & Jones developed a radical new plan for presenting animals in spacious exhibits emulating their natural habitats.

No comments: