I’m back with more Zoo history. I’m still in the process of scanning and organizing, but decided to take a break to share some important items from Zoo history for the years 2002 through 2008. It’s been a bit haphazard, as we go through storage boxes, we find caches of items that are not necessarily grouped by year. So enjoy 2002 through 2008 because next time I may be sharing some items from 1996 or 1954. I just can’t predict where this project will lead, and that makes it all the more exciting for me.
Did you know?
Polar bears Yukon and Aurora became parents to twins on 11/15/2002. The male polar bear twin passed away a month later due to intussusception, a complication that arises when the intestines of a young mammal flip or twist. The female polar bear twin, Haley, was transferred to the Brookfield Zoo (Chicago) in March of 2005, where she met her mate Payton. Both currently reside at Memphis Zoo.
- Speaking of polar bears—Anoki, the cub born to Yukon and Aurora in November 1996, was in a Sierra Mist commercial during the Super Bowl of 2003! Watch the commercial here (the polar bears are at the end.) Anoki now resides at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
Orangutan Kumang gave birth to baby boy Datu on January 29, 2004. Datu now resides at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin.
- July 9, 2004 marked the grand opening of the Animal Health and Education Complex at the Zoo. The complex houses the Z.O.T. Zone, the Animal Hospital, classrooms and the Zoo’s Conference Center.
- It was announced on August 26, 2004 that African elephant Genny C. was pregnant as a result of artificial insemination. The announcement underscored the need for more space for the Zoo’s elephants and resulted in the following: “Bucks for Baby” campaign to raise funds for the new exhibit; The construction of the new elephant exhibit which was opened April 27, 2006 and includes a 10,000-square-foot barn and 22,000-square-foot yard; The construction and dedication of the 1,000-square-foot Time Warner Cable Elephant Atrium which opened on September 22, 2006 NOTE: Sadly, on February 9, 2006, the calf Genny C. was carrying died during the birthing process.
On May 28, 2005, Amur tiger Kira gave birth to three tiger cubs. The male cub, Ussuri, now resides at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota. The two female cubs are our own eight year-old tigers Katya and Anastasia.
- The visiting animal for the summer of 2006 was white rhinos. The white rhinos (Bill and Roscoe) become permanent residents at the end of the summer and have resided in the former elephant yard ever since.
- The Zoo added meerkats to the Main Building in September 2007. Six meerkats debuted in an exhibit area that formerly housed African spurred tortoises and, much earlier, sea lions.
- The Elephant Splash Pool opened in June 24, 2008.
- The community was introduced to our olive baboon troop when the exhibit opened on May 8, 2008. Twelve baboons named for different types of olives comprised the troop. Many of these recent history items are quite fresh in my memory because my family became Zoo members not long after my son was born in 2002.
The final item regarding the baboons is especially dear to me because my son was chosen from some of the Zoo’s campers to be one of the first children to encounter the baboons. The encounter was televised on a local news station. He was quite enraptured by these creatures and was awestruck when questioned by the reporter. My husband did all of the talking at that time. Who would have guessed that four years later, I would have a job at the Zoo!
Do you have great memories from the Zoo? Share in the comments section below, or the Zoo’s Facebook page.
- Michele Schepisi-Ritchie, Office Assistant