Baby orangutan resident at the Toledo Zoo Photo courtesy The Toledo Zoo
This cherished Toledo legacy was founded in 1900
with the donation of one small woodchuck to the Toledo Park
Superintendent, who placed it in a cage in Walbridge Park. During
the zoo's early years, its animal menagerie grew sporadically,
relying on individual or circus donations. Today this 62-acre zoo
is a cultural cornerstone of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
Often referred to as "America's Most Complete Zoo" because of its
unique combination of animals, buildings and natural habit styled
exhibits, the Toledo Zoo cares for 4,393 animals, representing 712
species. Between 1994 and 1999, attendance reached more than
800,000 each year, topping one million twice.
The evolution of the Toledo Zoo has paralleled, and
often led, the changing focus of zoos across the country. The
Toledo Zoo also participates with other zoos in programs that
protect and breed rare and endangered species. Among the zoo's
conservation highlights are the first artificial insemination
offspring in chimpanzees; the first reintroduction of a particular
reptile species to its native habitat in the Virgin Islands; and
the first captive breeding and reintroduction of the Karner blue
butterfly. Through the evolution of conservation programs and
exhibit development, the Toledo Zoo aims to empower the current and
future generations to become active stewards of, and advocates for,
The zoo continues to use its original six buildings,
built in the Spanish Colonial revival style from 1923 to 1939,
funded by federal relief projects, including the Works Progress
Administration. Its 5,000-seat amphitheater, completed in 1936,
continues to provide a venue for summer concerts and theatrical
spectacles. The zoo includes a science museum, built in 1938; a
botanical conservatory (considered one of the finest Victorian
style glass houses in the country); greenhouses; formal gardens;
one of the largest fresh and saltwater aquariums at a zoo in the
world. Its world-class exhibits include a Hippoquarium, Arctic
Encounter, and African Savanna.
Project documentation includes a three-page history,
color photographs, a fact sheet, mission statement, and illustrated
book documenting the zoo's first 100 years.
Originally submitted by: Marcy Kaptur, Representative (9th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.