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April 2012 - “Doc” and the 1960s

Jacksonville Zoo History 1914-2014
Featured April 2012
Alan F. Rost, Biological Programs Registrar and unofficial Zoo historian

“Doc” and the 1960s

In early 1959, Newton P. “Doc” Baldwin, the assistant superintendent of municipal parks was temporarily assigned as Zoo Superintendent until a new director could be hired.

Baldwin added a female leopard to the collection in 1959 and, the following year, the Zoo’s first black rhinoceros was exhibited.  In October 1961, the first color motion picture of “A Day at the Zoo” was unveiled.  By the end of 1962, the Zoo posted its largest profit ever.  During 1963 the Zoo opened its Carnivore Grottos (a name I’ve applied), a large oval exhibit/holding area that featured 16 separate exhibit areas.  The Grottos lasted until about 1990 and during its existence allowed the Zoo to hold and exhibit an impressive number of carnivores all at one time.  There was a period when our Zoo exhibited six bear species, all three hyena species, and most of the big cat species all at about the same time.  The Carnivore Grottos were located approximately where the gorilla family yard is now. 

The Zoo’s first African elephants arrived in 1967.

On June 21, 1966 the Zoo’s name was changed to the Jacksonville Zoological Park.  By 1969, our Zoo was reputed to have the largest collection of exotic animals in the Southeastern United States.  The Zoo’s size also grew during the 1960s with 10 acres purchased in 1960 and an additional 11 acres added in 1969.

“Miss Chic” an Indian elephant and the Zoo’s original elephant died November 10, 1963.  A Florida Times-Union article reported that Miss Chic died of a fourth heart attack on November 10, 1963.  She is reputedly buried somewhere on Zoo grounds.

Dozens of new exotic species arrived for the first time during the 1960s.  Just a few mammal examples include siamang; Siberian tiger; brown, spotted and striped hyena; grizzly, spectacled and sun bear; Grevy’s zebra; southern white rhinoceros, Nile and pigmy hippopotamus; guanaco and Cape buffalo.

“Doc” Baldwin was transferred from the Jacksonville Zoological Park in early 1971.

If you have any information, pictures or photos about the Jacksonville Zoo during this timeframe that you would like to share, (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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