September 2011 - The Night the Zoo Almost Washed Away
Jacksonville Zoo History 1914-2014
Featured September 2011
Alan F. Rost, Biological Programs Registrar and unofficial Zoo historian
The Night the Zoo Almost Washed Away
Much like the earlier Sub-Tropical Exposition of 1888 the Springfield Zoo was built along Hogans Creek. Hogans Creek was named after Lewis Zacharia Hogans one of the three gentlemen who in 1822 laid-out a grid in “Cowford” and gave it the name of Jacksonville, after Andrew Jackson the first military governor of the Florida Territory.
On the evening of December 21, 1916 the Springfield Zoo almost disappeared. After three days of almost constant rain, combined with abnormal tides, Hogans Creek overflowed with water running about five feet deep in some areas. Llamas, bison and zebus stood in water up to their shoulders. It was only by the quick action of L. D. Smoot, Commissioner of Public Works, Searcy Smith, Park Superintendent, and several other volunteers that no animals were lost.
At this point L. D. Smoot believed that there was a need for a new location for the Zoo, and that the animals would always be in danger at their Springfield location.