July 2011 - The “Springfield Park Zoo” opens
Jacksonville Zoo History 1914-2014
Featured July 2011
Alan F. Rost, Biological Programs Registrar and unofficial Zoo historian
The “Springfield Park Zoo” opens
Our Zoo was founded by Jacksonville Park Commissioner Sydney C. Smith on May 12, 1914 in a park near Third and Broad Streets in Springfield (just north of downtown). The animal collection began with the donation of a young red deer stag by John F. May of the State Insurance Company, and most of the early animal collection was composed of domestic animals. The animal collection quickly grew to include over 85 specimens representing over 20 species including exotics such as monkeys and parrots. By 1916 the Springfield Zoo included a monkey island exhibit and an enclosure for black bears.
On January 18, 1816, Park Commissioner Sydney C. Smith requested that city council pass an ordinance for the Springfield Park Zoo to receive $500 to purchase animals. The earliest exotic animal purchases for which we have a record are from the Zoo in Atlanta, Georgia in February 1916: one Axis Deer $55; one Bison $100; one Llama $75; and two Zebus $155. Like us, Zoo Atlanta does not have any remaining paper trail of this transaction.