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June 2012 - Jacksonville Zoo Animal Acquisition in the 1960s

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

Jacksonville Zoo Animal Acquisition in the 1960s

We have found some indications in what older animal records we still have, that during the 1960s, representatives of our Zoo would travel down to Miami about every six months and stock-up on animals to bring back to Jacksonville. Some of these specimens would not survive very long, but others would live for years, or even decades. This was a period before most of the animal laws and licenses, federal or state, that we deal with today were in place. The U.S. Endangered Species Act would not become law until the next decade. Miami was one of the major ports through which exotic species were entering the country and almost anything could be found there. But of course that was part of the reason why the laws and licenses that began to be put in place in the 1970s and 1980s were necessary.

Although the 1960s saw many different kinds of animals at our Zoo, everything from Giant Anteaters, Hippopotamus and California Sea Lions to Gila Monsters and Rhinoceros Vipers, there were a few groups that stand out. Although not all of the species listed below were acquired in Miami, many were.

Reptiles: We had at least six different kinds of iguanas, several now protected, including the big rhinoceros iguana, and a diverse crocodilian collection including: American Alligator, Spectacled Caiman, four kinds of Crocodiles – American, Orinoco, Cuban, and West African Dwarf, and the even then rare False Gavial.

Birds: There were at least eight different kinds of raptors (hawks, eagles, and vultures) including the Great Black Hawk; three kinds of eagles – Bateleur, Buzzard, and Wedge-Tailed; and four kinds of vultures – Cinereous, Egyptian, King and Pondicherry.

Mammals: We exhibited all three of the hyena types – Spotted, Stripped and the rare Brown; at least six different bear species – American Black, Asiatic Black, Brown, Grizzly, Spectacled, and Polar; and at least 18 different kinds of primates including some species that are uncommon or gone from North American Zoos today such as the Sooty Mangabey, White-Collared Guenon, Green Monkey, Rhesus Macaque, Pig-Tailed Macaque, Drill, Gelada Baboon, and White-Bearded Gibbon.

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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