PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Zoo celebrated its 131st birthday on Thursday!
The zoo opened in 1888 after British pharmacist Richard Knight donated a bear to the city.
Knight moved to Portland in 1882 and took in exotic animals left behind by sailors. His pharmacy along the Willamette River became a haven for creatures such as monkeys and parakeets. He also cared for 2 orphaned bear cubs and later gifted one of them — a female grizzly — to the city of Portland. The fate of the other bear has been lost to time.
The city accepted the bear on Nov. 7, 1888, and the zoo, known then as the Portland Zoo, was born. A man named Charles Myers was the first zookeeper. The zoo was moved in the 1920s from its original hillside home above West Burnside Street to a more remote site in Washington Park. It got its first Asian elephant named Rosy in 1953. Rosy was given to the zoo by a Portland couple living in Thailand.
By 1991, more than 1 million people were visiting the zoo every year.
A condor chick hatched at the zoo for the first time in 2005 and was released into the wild in California. African predators like lions, cheetahs and wild dogs came to the zoo 4 years later.
Today, the Oregon Zoo is a world-class attraction known for its conservation and research efforts and hundreds of volunteers donate thousands of hours of service to further its educational efforts.
Happy Birthday, Oregon Zoo!