Monday, July 30, 2012

Glenwood Park/Erie Zoo


Erie has operated a zoo since about 1927, when "Tom-boy" the elephant arrived as a gift to the city. The Robert Evans estate was soon donated for the purposes of establishing a zoological park. A permanent home for the elephant was built in 1929 and the park opened a year later.
John M Cochran, founding president of the Erie Zoological Society (1962), was active in expanding and renovating the zoo. A forty year US$1.08 million bond issue, resulting in the construction of the ice arena and the Dixieland children's zoo, among other things, are in large part the work of Cochran. A plaque hangs in the main building in remembrance of his efforts.

Since 1964, the zoo has been owned by the Erie Municipal Park Authority, which leases the zoo back to the City of Erie. In order to float the 1964 bond issue for improvements at the zoo, the city was required to create a financing authority to hold the property title. A five-member board of directors is chosen by the Erie City Council to run the authority. The city pays most of the zoo's utilities and insurance expenses but delegates operation of the zoo to the Erie Zoological Society.

The Main Zoo Building was dedicated 7 August 1930. The building was restored and modified in 1991 as a visitors' entrance to the zoo.

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