Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Private Zoo's Before Regulation--Bill Wrigley Jr's. Private Zoo--Now They Are Called "Sanctuaries."

Catalina's Bird Park was established in the winter of 1929 by William Wrigley Jr.. The park was built in Avalon Canyon and covered eight full acres of land. Over 500 cages of varying sizes housed over 8,000 different species of rare and exotic birds from all over the world. Eagles, flamingos, mynahs, macaws, toucans, peacocks, ostrich and penguins were among the attractions. This private enterprise of William Wrigley Jr. became one of the Island's most popular attractions and boasted the world's largest aviary, several international award-winning birds and free admission. The Park dazzled visitors and bird lovers for over thirty-five years. The concept of establishing a bird sanctuary on Catalina Island has been attributed to both William Wrigley Jr. and E.H. Lewis. One source suggests that the Bird Park was the life long dream of William Wrigley Jr., who had long been a lover of birds and envisioned a place where others might visit and study them. Another source Catalina Island's Bird Parkstates that E.H. Lewis, a British gamekeeper with connections to the California State Fish and Game Commission, had pointed out the ideal geographic and climatic conditions of the Island for a bird sanctuary fifteen years prior and had long dreamed of establishing such a place. Luckily, the two visionaries met and together they established the World's Largest Bird Park. The Bird Park was significantly scaled back during World War II since visitation to the Island was Catalina Island's Bird Parklimited. The Park never regained its prewar vitality and was closed in 1966. The remaining 650 birds were transferred to the Los Angeles Zoo. What was once the "world's largest birdcage" is now a playground for Avalon Preschool.

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