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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO

CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO

The CLEVELAND METROPARKS ZOO is located near BROOKSIDE PARK on the southwest side of Cleveland, with offices at 3900 Brookside Park Dr. Occupying 165 acres, the zoo is home to 3,300 animals of over 500 different species, and by 1995 had an annual attendance of more than 1.2 million. Known as the Cleveland Zoological Park until 1975, it evolved from a herd of American deer placed in land on the east side donated to the city by JEPTHA WADE on 15 Sept. 1882. Other animals were added and a small building was erected in what became WADE PARK, but after the opening of the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART there in 1916, the zoological collections were gradually moved to Brookside Park near W. 25th St. In Oct. 1940 the city entrusted management of the zoo's day-to-day operations to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, with Fletcher Reynolds as the zoo's first director. In Oct. 1944 CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL approved the acquisition of the portion of Brookside Park east of Fulton Rd., increasing the zoo's size to 110 acres. Cleveland voters approved $1 million bond issues for the construction of the Bird Bldg. and the Pachyderm Bldg., which opened in 1950 and 1955, respectively. The Cleveland Zoological Society was formed in Apr. 1957 and was entrusted with the operation of the zoo under contract with the city. In 1970 the city transfered operation of the zoo to the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District. In 1995 the zoo was operated by a board of directors as part of the CLEVELAND METROPARKS SYSTEM and received its operating budget through the passage of tax levies. Taking over the CLEVELAND AQUARIUM and moving its exhibits to Brookside Park in 1986, the Metroparks Zoo then spent $30 million to open a new tropical RainForest exhibit in 1992. In 1995 the 2-acre, 2-level RainForest contained 600 animals and 10,000 plants native to the jungles of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.