By Sarah Matteson

The Journal of San Diego History
San Diego History Center Quarterly
Spring 2016, Volume 62, Number 2
The San Diego Zoo After 100 Years (PDF)

Defying the Odds

The nucleus that evolved into the San Diego Zoo lay in the display of animals at the Panama-California Exposition held  in  1915- 1916.  So popular did the Exposition  become, it carried on for a second year, added the word international, and included an array of animals for viewing along “the Isthmus”—the fair’s fun zone. Thirty-two cages placed along what is today Park Boulevard, opposite the exposition’s  Painted  Desert  attraction,  housed the original assortment of animals—kangaroos, bears, buffalos, lions, leopards, hyenas, wolves, baboons, monkeys, parrots, and cockatoos, to name a few.1 Some of these animals were on loan from Wonderland Amusement Park, but other animal collections dotted the park.2 By the time the Exposition closed on December 31, 1916, Wonderland had closed and the animals were in need of a new home and caretaker.

The spark that set into motion the San Diego Zoo as a separate entity has become an almost mythical origin story. In short, it is said that the San Diego Zoo “began with a roar”—a local doctor and his brother were driving past the animal cages when they heard a lion roar. The man, Dr. Harry Wegeforth, thought to himself that San Diego ought to keep these animals for a zoo. Together with several other members of the San Diego medical community, Wegeforth began his long, passionate quest for a zoo.3 Like so many other moments in history, this mythos of the roar simplified the past and made what started with a tenuous beginning appear an inevitability. Instead, the early years of the San Diego Zoo were full of hurdles—financing and the lack of a permanent home foremost among them. It was Wegeforth’s relentless pursuit of solutions to these problems that defined the first several decades of the Zoo’s existence. Later decades were characterized by advancements in research, exhibit design, and conservation efforts.

During its 100 years, the San Diego Zoo has reinvented itself with the times and, in many cases, pioneered ways forward for other zoos. Today, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park command a combined attendance of 5 million people a year. This was not the case in 1916 when, as the story goes, a man heard a roar and the little zoo got its shaky start.

The Zoo Files Articles of Incorporation

The formal beginning of the Zoo as an institution began even before the Panama-California Exposition had ended. The execution of the articles of incorporation for the San Diego Zoological Society occurred on November 17, 1916 (See Appendix, pp. 128-130).4 Harry Wegeforth, the man with the vision, was named president of the Society. By May of the following year, The San Diego Union was reporting that the newly-formed Zoological Society of San Diego had taken over the collection of animals that had made up the Isthmus Zoo.5

While some of these early discussions surrounding the new Zoological Gardens suggested that the animals would be moved to the Pepper Grove (just south of today’s Reuben H. Fleet Science Center along Park Boulevard), the Exposition animals remained in their cages further north for some time. This meant that San Diegans were free to visit the Zoo as they pleased. With no fences or gates, charging admission was impossible.6 Descriptions were added to the animals’ cages, elucidating for visitors their occupants’ names (common and Latin), their diet, range, and other facts of note for the species in question.7 Visitors to the Zoo were able to watch animal feeding time daily, excepting Mondays, at 3:30 pm—and the keeper had even trained some animals to entertain passersby.8 By the end of 1917, The San Diego Union announced that this collection of animals was “the largest and finest collection of animals on the Pacific Coast and Balboa Park.”9 Despite this action, the Zoological Society of San Diego had no permanent home for its animals or steady funding to implement the plans they were promoting. Still a ragtag collection housed in the corner of Balboa Park, the young Zoo animals would find that big moments lay in store for them as Wegeforth had been relentlessly promoting the Zoological Society. San Diego was touted as the perfect place for a zoo. Its “wonderful climate” year round meant that the animals did not need winter housing or heating implements.10 The San Diego Zoological Gardens, therefore, would be an outdoor facility and would be able to save on construction and electricity bills that saddled other zoos; it just needed to find space to grow.

Creating the Perfect Home

The articles of incorporation for the San Diego Zoological Society did not mean that the Society had a zoo – or a zoological garden, as they were referred.

Discussions of where to place the Zoological Gardens had long been centered on Balboa Park, but where in the Park? In 1916, The San Diego Sun was reporting that the Zoological Society’s collection would be housed in the Pepper Grove, today a park for children.16 There, they planned to place animal enclosures in the trees adjacent to the existing picnic area and park. Instead, on February 15, 1918,  the City of San Diego and the San Diego Zoological Society came to  an agreement on how to settle the question. In return for a permanent site in  the Park (not yet identified), the Zoological Society transferred ownership of the animals, equipment, and property to the city.17 The agreement left the Society the right to trade or sell the animals at their own discretion, while the title to the animals lay with the Park Department.18 Discussion about where to place a permanent Zoological Garden persisted for years.

In 1921, the City Council was finally presented with a map and plans for the development of the permanent home of the Zoological Gardens.19 These plans called for a 200-acre plot of land in Balboa Park to be developed at a cost of $60,000.20 In the plan that was filed with the city, the Zoo’s property would start just south of the International Harvester Building—a hold-out from the Panama-California Exposition—and extend north to the edge of Balboa Park.21 It would extend from Park Boulevard on the eastern side and head west, to the road that then ran through Cabrillo Canyon.22 The still- standing Harvester Building was to be moved and re-purposed by the Zoo into an administrative building and reptile house.23 The Board of Park Commissioners approved the Society’s plans in early 1922 (though some acreage was lost to a new school).24

The founders were looking forward to the Zoo settling down, when the effort was aided in 1921 by Ellen Browning Scripps who donated $9000 to the Zoo so that a fence could be built around the grounds.25 The construction of this fence allowed the Zoo to control visitor access to their space and to charge admission. The grand opening of the Zoo finally occurred in 1923. Adult  admission was  ten cents, while the children of San Diego—the most important constituency to Wegeforth—were admitted free. As planned, the International Harvester Building was converted into a reptile house with an entry designed by architect Louis Gill, nephew of noted local architect Irving Gill.26

A Proper Director – Belle Benchley

While Wegeforth was the driving force behind the Zoo, he could not run both the Zoo and his medical practice single-handedly. Early on, Wegeforth had identified the need for a director to handle daily operations. Ellen Scripps stepped in again, this time with an offer to provide a salary for a director.27 It was not until 1927, however, that Wegeforth found—by accident—someone he respected and liked well enough to stay in the position. Belle Benchley, his choice, had initially been hired as a bookkeeper for the Zoo in the fall of 1925.28

By 1927,  Benchley  became  the  director of the Zoo by stepping in to “assume added responsibility” in a “poorly organized” institution. She had effectively and efficiently worked her way to the top.29 This did not mean that Wegeforth cut his ties to the Zoo. On the contrary, he was still the President of the Zoological Society and spent much of his time promoting the Zoo. He also traveled the world collecting information about other zoos as well as animals to round out San Diego’s collection.30

Keeping Afloat

The Society kept busy looking for resources—financial and in-kind donations alike—to keep running. Their eventual goal was, of course, a steady revenue stream to execute Wegeforth’s dream of creating the best zoo possible. By donating money and food to the Society, San Diegans were lending their support to the nascent efforts to establish a zoo. The country’s involvement in World War I briefly interrupted the Zoological Society’s fundraising plans as the efforts of the Red Cross and Liberty Bond sales took precedence and made San Diegans’ access to the animals difficult. San Diego had imposed “off-limits” on the park where the military was active, but promotion for the new Zoo continued.31

Up until 1916, the San Diego Zoological Society had been funded by memberships to the Society—$5 a year for a single membership—as well as donations from wealthy, interested locals.32 This would not be enough to establish and sustain the Zoo of Wegeforth’s dreams. In 1917, a fundraiser was held at Balboa Stadium—the Society charged ten cents for admission to the “mammoth athletic carnival” that raised $354.74 to build new cages and other additions to the Zoo.33 Much of the early funds for developing the Zoo, however, came from a few wealthy locals who had taken an interest in the cause.

Ellen Scripps continued to be the major Zoo underwriter. She paid for the aviary in 1923 and the establishment of a research hospital at the Balboa Park Zoo in 1926.34  All told, it was reported that she donated roughly $200,000 to the Zoo during her lifetime.35 She, as much as Wegeforth, was responsible for providing the Zoo with a sturdy foundation. From the beginning, Wegeforth had also set his sights on the City of San Diego, armed with the belief that the city should contribute to the establishment and improvement of such a local treasure. In a 1922 article from The San Diego Union, grandly titled “Zoological Garden of City Equal Best in America,” Wegeforth laid out several reasons for the Zoo’s importance:

The community’s need of a Zoological Garden is acknowledged to be greater than that of other cities, as there are few places so constantly filled with visitors seeking recreation. In adding attractions of this nature, the popularity of San Diego as a winter and summer resort is enhanced and the city thereby is advanced commercially. The tourist is to San Diego in a large measure what steel is to Pittsburgh, what cotton is to the south, and, realizing that the object is not to bring the tourist to San Diego, but to entertain him, prolong his visit and send him home with pleasant memories, San Diegans are gladly aiding the campaign for a Zoological Garden.36

This stance certainly aligned Wegeforth with the interests of the political elite of San Diego. In the same article, San Diego’s mayor declared he would rather provide just a few tourists with an excellent vacation than bore crowds of tourists.37 In his pleas to the city, Wegeforth frequently referred to the children of San Diego, who would derive great pleasure and knowledge from his beloved Zoo. His rhetoric over time, and even his tactics for gaining support, centered on providing an indispensable service for the children of San Diego. He envisioned his Zoo as a place of learning for them—an institution that would “furnish educational features for youthful inhabitants and visitors.”38 Throughout his career, Wegeforth would point to the children as the beneficiaries of this great plan, smile, and wait for San Diegans to fall in line with his wishes; he excelled at tugging on heart-strings.

Support from the city was unsteady at first. When he needed money, Wegeforth applied to the city council for assistance. In 1921 he was promised $5,000 a year for the upkeep of the Zoological Gardens.39 Tired of requesting funds yearly or for specific projects, he aimed to receive a set percentage of this revenue stream from the city, maintaining his argument that the Zoo benefitted the region. He set about trying to secure a two-cent allotment per $100 of assessed property from the city’s property taxes. This would require an amendment to the city charter, which meant that the people of San Diego would be asked to vote on the proposition.

The two-cent per $100 of assessed valuation of city property taxes was voted down in 1925.40 A version of the requested proposition appeared on the ballot again in 1927, this time succeeding only to be declared invalid on the grounds that it was not published in sufficient time to be legally included in that election.41 Having lost the guarantee of funding, the Zoo pursued the $36,000 it would have received that year anyway, and received it.42 Funding problems persisted however. In 1928 Wegeforth found himself short on funds again. The city had appropriated just $19,198 to the Zoo’s operations—the result of a shortage that was affecting all institutions in Balboa Park.43 It was no surprise, then, that Wegeforth pushed the two-cent tax back on the ballot in 1929. Again, however, it passed and was not enacted.44 Finally, in 1934, Proposition 1 passed, granting the Zoo its “two cents for every $100 of assessed valuation of real and personal property.”45

By the time this proposition passed and was successfully enacted, it had become even more important for the Zoo, as the nation and world were in the grip of the Great Depression. While the Zoo was the recipient of Works Progress Administration funds for pathways, landscaping, an amphitheater, and animal enclosures, the two-cent tax was important in providing a reliable stream of money.46

The Challenges of World II

On the heels of the Great Depression came World War II. Its impact on the region is well noted—the region’s military presence grew, aircraft factories produced planes at an alarming rate, and San Diegans adjusted to living “on the home front.” The draft had a noticeable impact on the Zoo’s predominantly male staff. In fact, the first person in San Diego to be drafted was a keeper  at  the Zoo, Howard Lee.47 As more and more male staff members took to fighting overseas, Belle Benchley, the director, assumed more responsibilities to keep the zoo operating.48

Staffing was not the only area where the war had an impact. Food rationing had also been implemented, and the Zoo took steps to alleviate the shortages. By 1941, the Zoo had 3,000 mouths to feed and a long history of being thrifty when sourcing food to prepare meals for their charges.49 Donations had long been welcomed—what was stale or soggy produce for humans was acceptable for the animals. One way the Zoo addressed the deeper cuts brought on by war was to establish victory gardens. Victory gardens, the civilian contribution toward saving food for those overseas and “doing their part” was scaled up to provide produce for the collection. The Zoo operated their garden in Mission Valley and grew sunflowers, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and corn.50  Additionally, shortages in materials, gasoline, and rubber interrupted building and construction plans as well as bus tours.51 After years spent slowly finding their footing, developing infrastructure, and expanding the collection, the war years were a period of relative inactivity for the Zoo.

Designing for Children

In 1954, a new director took over the Zoo—Dr. Charles Schroeder. He had worked at the Zoo twice previously— first as veterinarian then as a pathologist in the hospital that Scripps funded. By the time he returned, much of the infrastructure around the Zoo was in place, though with the war coming directly after the Depression, the Zoo had not made any significant updates in years. Schroeder thought it was time to get started. The first major project was the Children’s Zoo. A committee took on the job of designing this new area.. Charles Faust was a member of this design team and when the first draft was reviewed by the Zoo—and critiqued for its lack of consideration for the animals—Faust took on the task of making the necessary corrections. The Children’s Zoo was designed to house over 200 animals spanning fifty different species, all of which needed to be appropriately housed and cared for while encouraging interaction from a young audience.52 The animals chosen to live in the Children’s Zoo encompassed quite a range of species. Finches were housed in an aviary, while domestic livestock were also present, and hyraxes lived in their own private Ferris wheel.53

The Children’s Zoo was designed so that everything was child sized. The admission gate, concession stand, animal enclosures, and all other features were miniaturized to cater to the intended audience. The Children’s Zoo allowed youngsters the opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals; they were allowed to pet them and food was available for the children to feed them as well.54 Throughout the year the Zoo also offered a multitude of educational programs within the Children’s Zoo. For instance, summer classes were held there and tours were given to students during the school year; it was the center of the Zoo’s Education Department before other facilities were built to better house those programs.55

Moating the Zoo

After his success with the Children’s Zoo, Charles Faust was kept on as the Zoo’s staff designer.56 Faust set out to design new enclosures for a host of animals. The plan, much as Wegeforth had laid it out, was to design moated enclosures for the animal collection. Schroeder wanted to eliminate fencing, bars, and cages wherever possible. This meant that some of the animals Faust was designing for had never previously been “moated” anywhere in the world. Notably, he worked with the staff of the Zoo—curators, research hospital scientists, veterinarians, and many others—to develop his designs.57 Curators and keepers were able to provide insights into how animals behaved and to point out flaws in previous exhibit designs. Faust did his best to take their concerns into account. The San Diego Zoo became the first zoo to use a moat for a giraffe enclosure (1962), eliminating an eighteen foot tall fence that had separated them from the public.58 A gorilla moat opened that  same  year,  and was followed by moats for elephants, rhinos, gibbons, siamangs, and others.59 These moats cleared the sightlines for all visitors, and allowed the Zoo to foster a more “natural” atmosphere for their collection and visitors alike.

Animal Conservation at a “Back Country Zoo”

In the 1960s, the San Diego Zoo embarked on a new project. What began as an idea for an off-site breeding preserve to aid the Zoo’s conservation efforts turned into the Wild Animal Park. The project was inspired by the Zoo’s need for more space. Schroeder and others at the Zoological Society were hoping to develop a “property where Zoo animal surpluses could be housed.”60 This “backcountry zoo” was not originally intended for the public’s eyes—it was meant to function as   an off-site breeding center “where threatened species could be kept in a natural habitat in an attempt to perpetuate them.”61

Some 1,800 acres in San Pasqual were first earmarked for the Wild Animal Park in 1964. Animals began arriving in the park in 1969, and plantings began in early 1972.62 By this time, the concept included visitors since maintaining a park solely for breeding purposes was not economically feasible.63 The Park, though, inverted the typical paradigm of a zoo visit; the animals had wide open spaces to roam around while the people were contained. In order to see much of the Wild Animal Park, visitors would need to take a ride on the WGASA Bush Line Monorail that made a circuitous loop around the exhibits.64 Despite the addition of visitors, the purpose of the Park had remained the same—to provide the Zoo with space to carry out their conservation efforts.

The design of the park was handled by Charles Faust who was still on staff. He took a research trip to Africa to inspire him in creating the structures around the park “to get the feeling, the flavor of some place that’s not local.”65 On May 10, 1972, the Wild Animal Park opened its doors.66 Since that time, changes have occurred to the park, for instance it has since been renamed the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the WGASA Bush Line has been replaced by the Africa Tram (a truck tour), but the goal of conserving animals has remained the same.

Immersive Exhibits – the Bioclimatic Zones

After the development of the moats in the 1960s, the next era of exhibit design changes began in the 1980s and came into full force in the 1990s. This decade saw the evolution of a concept to include overarching design elements for whole sections of the Zoo. This trend was called “bioclimatic” exhibit design. According to Charles Bieler, executive director of the Zoo at this time, this design concept was intended to replicate nature as much as possible; animals and plants that co-habitated in the wild were situated together in the Zoo.67 This was to be combined with “third-generation enclosures” that would better take into account animals’ needs— both physical and psychological.68 The plan, as Bieler laid it out, was to spend the next three decades realigning the Zoo’s exhibits with this plan.69 These bioclimatic zones and third-generation enclosures were chosen as the new overriding organizing schema for the Zoo in part because they would “provide the public with a picture of the diversity of life within certain habitats as well as demonstrate the vital interrelationships between species.”70 The Zoo’s experience with breeding at the Wild Animal Park also convinced them that animals were more successful breeders when their zoo environment mimicked their natural habitat.71

The Zoo spent a little time developing these concepts before executing them on a large scale. The Heart of the Zoo opened in 1982, giving visitors a small taste of what some of these changes would involve.72 African Rock Kopje opened next, again displaying for the public a smaller version of the big changes that were   in store for future exhibits. Finally, in 1988, Tiger River was opened—the first large-scale embodiment of this bioclimatic concept.73 What followed were: Ituri Forest, Sun Bear Forest, Gorilla Tropics, Hippo Beach, and Polar Bear Plunge.

Besides being more naturalistic for the animals they housed, these bioclimatic zones were meant to serve the Zoo’s education purposes as they helped to contextualize the plants and animals for the public. Additionally, bioclimatic zones are thought to provide greater impetus for visitors to take part in the conservation efforts necessary to preserve these animals from extinction.74 Typically, people are enamored with the cute megafauna—large, cuddly animals with lots of charisma—such as pandas, polar bears, or koalas. These animals, when situated with other plants and animals from their native region, allow visitors to grasp the degree to which the issue of conservation is about the interdependence of all species within their environments.

These bioclimates also show off the Zoo’s horticulture department, containing over one million plants across both the Zoo and Safari Park, which is in charge of preserving species that are endangered.75 The plants in and around the enclosures are not there merely to provide atmosphere; they also serve as browse (or food) for some animals in the collection. A sub-set of the horticulture department is dedicated to caring for and harvesting plants to be used in animal diets.76 The plants can also be used as enrichment or furniture for animals – pieces of plants used to stimulate natural behaviors of animals. For instance, animals might scratch or climb on tree bark, or the smells of certain plants might incite some other behavior.77

New Research Endeavors

The Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) was established at the San Diego Zoo in 1975. It was originally located behind the scenes at the Balboa Park location. When CRES first started, the brainchild of Dr. Kurt Benirschke, it had just a staff of four who were dedicated to studying and preserving endangered animals.78 Benirschke served  as the director of this new research division of the Zoo for a decade.79 Since then, CRES’s mission has only expanded.

In 2004 the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center opened at the Wild Animal Park, prompting CRES’s move to a larger home.80 This was accompanied  by  a  name  change—while retaining the acronym— Conservation and Research for Endangered Species. The shift in name reflected the expanding role of the Zoo’s research arm. From  an internally-focused center looking at the reproductive health of its own collection, CRES grew to encompass field research with in situ populations and became involved in habitat conservation efforts, while maintaining its ability to study and manage the health of its captive population.81

Tucked inconspicuously off of San Pasqual Valley Road, just past the main entrance to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Beckman Center is the heart of the Zoo’s research capabilities. Today CRES has been renamed the Institute for Conservation Research (ICR) to better emphasize their role in applying research to help conservation efforts. ICR now has nine different departments and over 150 scientists that work with the collection animals at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as well as in field stations that dot thirty-five countries around the world.82 Their research covers hormones and pregnancy concerns, helps to fight the bush meat trade, and systematically banks seed from local plants.83 Their genetic division also houses the “Frozen Zoo”—a set of freezers that store fibroblast and genetic material from 10,000 individual animals covering 1000 different species, with the hope that these samples will help scientists in their studies.84 Another department is dedicated to education – providing school tours and outreach in the hope that visitors “will better understand the importance of conservation and our role in advancing it.85

The Next Era

In addition to its world-famous collection of plants and animals, its open concept Safari Park, and its dedication to research, the San Diego Zoo has also announced its intention to end extinction. Hoping to use its experience with animals along with its research infrastructure, the Zoo is looking to “[foster] collaboration and cooperation to save species from extinction.”86 The newly re- envisioned organization now has a mission statement that encompasses much more than the display of animals, and this was reflected in a 2010 name change for the organization.87 Now known as San Diego Zoo Global, all of the different arms of the San Diego Zoo have been brought under this one umbrella organization. The new organization is run by president and CEO Douglas Myers who began his career at the Zoo as general manager in 1982, became deputy director in 1983, and executive director in 1985.88 During his tenure, the Zoo has greatly expanded its reach, and with its new mission is poised to continue to do so.


The San Diego Zoo has followed an amazing trajectory in its first 100 years. From a small collection of animals, it has become a multi-sited, world-renowned zoo and research organization. Early guidance by Wegeforth and Benchley, and needed financial support by Ellen Scripps, these people and others, in the face of difficult odds, established a strong foundation on which to build. After identifying reliable funding sources, especially from the city, and developing    a permanent home, the Zoo was able spend its time and money expanding its collection, developing exhibits, and broadening its research capabilities. The breadth of the Zoo’s operations would surely surprise some of its early employees; it currently provides care for more than 6,000 animals in its collection that spans two sites, and is involved in research and conservation across the globe. While Wegeforth posited a zoo that would be the envy of other zoos, his focus was  on the acquisition of animals that would make San Diegans proud and allow them to learn through real-life interactions with the animal kingdom. While   he always stressed that the animals receive the best care the Zoo knew how to give, Wegeforth could never have imagined the extent to which the San Diego Zoo would become involved in global efforts to learn about, protect, and care for animals and plants in need of conservation. The origin myth that it all “began with a roar” belies the complexity of the Zoo and fails to emphasize the dedicated staff, board, donors, and city—all of whom have over the years contributed to the functioning of this world famous hometown zoo.


  1. “Exhibits of US at Exposition Will Be Thrown Open Today,” The San Diego Union, March 8, 1916, 14:5-6. See the back cover of this Journal
  2. “Zoo in Balboa Park Planned,” The San Diego Union, April 15, 1917, 12:2. Harry M. Wegeforth and Neil Morgan, It Began with a Roar! The Beginning of the World-Famous San Diego Zoo (National City, CA: Zoological Society of San Diego, 1990), 75-6.
  3. “San Diego Zoo Plan of Animal Life Students; May Form Society to Support Large Collection,” The San Diego Union, September 27, 1916, 2:5-6.
  4. San Diego Zoo Global Library, “San Diego Zoo Global History Timeline,” See Appendix, pp. 128-130. (accessed March 1, 2016).
  5. “New Zoo Chief to Take Charge,” The San Diego Union, May 11, 1917, 14:1.
  6. “Balboa Park Zoo Declared Largest on Pacific Coast,” The San Diego Union, December 30, 1917, 1:3-4.
  7. “Zoo Association Tells of Work; Asks for Help,” The San Diego Union, August 13, 1917, 12:1.
  8. “Balboa Park Zoo Declared Largest on Pacific ”
  9. Ibid
  10. “Zoo Association Tells of Work; Asks for ”
  11. “Arrival of Three Lion Cubs at Park Zoo Soon to be Celebrated with Real Public Reception,” The San Diego Union, September 9, 1917, 4:3-6.
  12. “Zoological Gardens at Balboa Park Contain More Than 50 Rare Animals,” The San Diego Union, January 20, 1918, 5:2-4.
  13. Ibid
  14. “Zoo Association Tells of Work; Asks for ”
  15. Ibid
  16. C. Thompson, “Zoo in Park Will Be One of Biggest Features; Is to Be Located in Peppers,” The San Diego Sun, December 30, 1916.
  17. “San Diego Zoo Global History Timeline”; City of San Diego Office of the City Attorney, City’s Rights Pertaining to the Animals in the Custody of the San Diego Zoological Society, Michael Aguirre, Memorandum of Law July 14, 2005, 4.
  18. City of San Diego Office of the City Attorney, City’s Rights Pertaining to the Animals in the Custody of the San Diego Zoological
  19. “Society Files Plans for Zoological Park,” The San Diego Union, October 11, 1921, 5:4.
  20. “San Diego Assured Fine Zoo Gardens on 200-Acre Site,” The San Diego Union, October 2,
  21. Ibid
  22. Ibid
  23. Ibid; “Zoological Gardens of City Equal Best in America Splendid Specimens of Animal Life Show Here Unique System of Animal Dens Shown in Park,” The San Diego Union, January 2, 1922, 5:1-8.
  24. Lynda Rutledge Stephenson, The San Diego Zoo: The Founding Era 1916-1953 (San Diego: Zoological Society of San Diego, 2015),
  25. “San Diego Zoo Global History ”
  26. Ibid
  27. Wegeforth and Morgan, It Began with a Roar!,
  28. Belle Benchley, My Life in a Man Made Jungle (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1940),
  29. Ibid
  30. Wegeforth and Morgan, It Began with a Roar!, 60-66.
  31. “Zoo Association Tells of Work; Asks for ”
  32. “Report of the Zoological Society Shows Balance,” The San Diego Union, February 24, 1918, 11:3-4.
  33. Thompson, “Zoo in Park Will Be One of Biggest Features”; General Expenses, 1918-1922, Zoological Society of San Diego Journals and Account Books, San Diego Zoo Global Archives; “Arrival of Three Lion Cubs at Park Zoo Soon to be Celebrated with Real Public ”
  34. “Great Cage for San Diego Birds,” The San Diego Sun, April 30, 1923; “San Diego Zoo Global History ”
  35. “After Elections Take a Look at the Zoo,” Carlsbad Journal, May 4,
  36. “Zoological Gardens of City Equal Best in ”
  37. Ibid
  38. Ibid
  39. “San Diego Assured Fine Zoo Gardens on 200-Acre ”
  40. Wegeforth and Morgan, It Began with a Roar!,
  41. “Charter Amendments Adopted at Election are Declared Invalid,” The San Diego Tribune, April 14,
  42. “City and Zoo,” The San Diego Union, November 23, 1927; “Fair Buildings are Crumbling, Council Hears,” The San Diego Sun, November 26,
  43. “Zoo Activities Curtailed by Budget Slash,” The San Diego Sun, September 24,
  44. Wegeforth and Morgan, It Began with a Roar!,
  45. “Proposition 1,” The San Diego Sun, November 6, 1934.
  46. “Improvement Program Near Completion,” The San Diego Union, September 20, 1936; University of San Diego Department of History Graduate Division, “San Diego Architects 1868-1939, Complete Biographical Descriptions of San Diego’s Historic Architects” (San Diego: University of San Diego, 1991),
  47. San Diego Zoo Global, “100 Years of the San Diego Zoo,” http://timeline.sandiegozoo100. org/ (accessed April 1, 2016).
  48. Ibid
  49. Benchley, My Life in a Man Made Jungle, 25, 30-31.
  50. Science Service, “Animals Get Home-Grown Food,” Science, March 30,
  51. Belle J. Benchley, “Report of the Executive Secretary: Year Ending June 30, 1946,” Zoonooz, September 1946, 3-4.
  52. “This New Zoo’s for You If – You’re Just This High,” The San Diego Tribune, June 14,
  53. Ibid; “The Children’s Zoo,” The San Diego Union, May 15, 1966,
  54. “This New Zoo’s for You If – You’re Just This ”
  55. “Education: Growing,” The San Diego Union, May 15, 1966,
  56. Charles Faust, interviewed by Margaret Price, 1981, Oral History Collection, San Diego History Center Document
  57. Lynda Rutledge Stephenson, The San Diego Zoo: The Modern Era 1954-2016 (San Diego: Zoological Society of San Diego, 2015),
  58. Stephenson, The San Diego Zoo: The Modern Era 1954-2016,
  59. “San Diego Zoo Global History ”
  60. Suzanne Strassburger, “Fifth Anniversary of the San Diego Wild Animal Park,” Zoonooz, May 1977,
  61. Betty Peach, “Wild – Animal Park Serves Many Uses,” The San Diego Tribune, October 26,
  62. Strassburger, “Fifth Anniversary of the San Diego Wild Animal Park,” 6; (Ricky) Cuzzone, “A Wild Experience,” Zoonooz, May 1977, 14; Jim Gibbons, “A Forest in Five Years,” Zoonooz, May 1977, 17.
  63. Peach, “Wild – Animal Park Serves Many ”
  64. Strassburger, “Fifth Anniversary of the San Diego Wild Animal Park,” 12. The popular monorail had to be discontinued because of power outages that made it difficult to rescue passengers who were stranded at inconvenient distances from the central area of the
  65. Faust, interview
  66. Strassburger, “Fifth Anniversary of the San Diego Wild Animal Park,”
  67. Gina Lubrano, “Zoo to Get New Look Over Next 30 Years,” The San Diego Union, October 1, 1984, B:-1:1-5.
  68. Ibid
  69. Ibid
  70. James M Dolan, D., “’And they went in, two by two’: The Evolution of the San Diego Zoo,” Zoonooz, 10.
  71. Lubrano, “Zoo to Get New Look Over Next 30 ”
  72. Ibid
  73. Stephenson, The San Diego Zoo: The Modern Era 1954-2016, 74.
  74. Ibid, 10.
  75. San Diego Zoo, “Plants at the Zoo and Safari Park,” html (accessed May 10, 2016).
  76. Janet Hawes, “A Taste of the Wild,” Zoonooz, July 2015, 17-18.
  77. John Michel, “We Owe it to the Animals,” Zoonooz, March 1996, 11-15.
  78. Michael McKeever, “CRES: A Commitment to Worldwide Conservation,” Zoonooz, November 2001, 9; Jeff Jouett, “Dr. Kurt Benirschke – A New Direction,” Zoonooz, September 1985,
  79. Jouett, “Dr. Kurt Benirschke – A New Direction,”
  80. Alan Dixson, D.Sc. “The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research: A New Beginning for CRES,” Zoonooz, March 2005,
  81. “Why a New Name for CRES?,” Zoonooz, April 2005,
  82. “Purpose,” San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, http://www.sandiegozooglobal. org (accessed December 14, 2015).
  83. “Purpose,” San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation
  84. Amy Jankowski, tour, July 27, 2015, Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center and San Diego Zoo Safari
  85. Maggie Reinbold, “Students Today, Scientists Tomorrow,” Zoonooz, September 2007,
  86. San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy, “End Extinction,” http://www.endextinction. org/end-extinction (accessed May 12, 2016).
  87. Stephenson, The San Diego Zoo: The Modern Era 1954-2016,
  88. Ibid, 177

Sarah Matteson, a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles with BAs in History and Political Science, is the Education Coordinator at the San Diego History Center where she develops programming for varied audiences. She helped develop interactive elements and provided interpretation for the History Center’s exhibit for the San Diego Zoo centennial The Lore Behind the Roar.