Oregon Zoo turns 125, unveils online photo gallery

November 7, 2013 - 1:14pm

Fan-submitted 'Zoo125' photos trace zoo's evolution over nearly a century

On Nov. 7, 1888, a sailor-turned-pharmacist bequeathed his menagerie of bears, monkeys and birds to the City of Portland, and in doing so marked the birth of what would become one of the nation's oldest and most respected zoos.

The Oregon Zoo is celebrating its "quasquicentennial" — or 125th anniversary — today by looking back at the past century and a quarter through the eyes of its community.

As part of a Zoo125 photo contest held earlier this year, fans submitted more than 300 images of zoo memorabilia and family photos, some nearly a century old.

Highlights include shots of the famous Asian elephant Packy as a baby, an original Zoo Key and the Space Age-inspired polar bear and monkey exhibits of the 1960s. The oldest image, submitted by Tim Hurtley of Portland, is captioned "deer at the zoo taken by Edward McGuire, my grandfather, around 1915."

The images — collected in an online gallery at oregonzoo.org/125 — help illustrate a 125-year journey that has seen vast leaps in zoological knowledge and animal welfare, with an increasing focus on sustainable operations, wildlife education and conservation.

"It's amazing to think about," said Kim Smith, zoo director. "This zoo has been community supported since 1888 — a time when there were no cars, no planes, no TV, no radio. It's been fun to see some of the zoo experiences people have saved on film over the years."