Municipal Archives

Dallas Zoo (Marsalis Park), 1952-1955, 1968-1980, 1991

Collection 19​​​​95-035


Repository ​Dallas Municipal Archives
Office of the City Secretary
1500 Marilla Street, 5D South
Dallas, Texas 75201
Creator Dallas Park and Recreation Department 
Title Dallas Zoo (Marsalis Park)
Dates 1952-1955, 1968-1980, 1991
Quantity 5 linear inches 
Abstract Documents and memoranda concerning the Dallas Zoo.
Identification 1995-035
Language Records are in English

Scope and Content

Collection documents the Dallas Zoo, the municipally-owned, 106-acre zoo located at U.S. Interstate 35 East and Marsalis Avenue in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas.  It is the oldest and largest zoological park in Texas. 
The Dallas Zoo was established in 1888, when the city council purchased two deer and two mountain lions for $60 from a private seller in Colorado City, Colorado.  The animals were placed in pens and put on display in City Park.  In the 1890s, the Dallas City Council approved funding for the zoo, and more animals were purchased and added to the zoo's collection.

The zoo called City Park home until 1910, when it was relocated to Fair Park.   In 1912, the zoo moved to 36 acres in Marsalis Park, which the city had purchased in 1909, from which it has expanded to its current size.  Under the leadership of Zoo Commissioner William H. Atwell, the zoo acquired many more animals as well as exhibits.  In the 1920s, a special Zoo Commission was created by the city, and the collection was further developed with the acquisition of numerous specimens from game hunter and trapper Frank Buck
By the 1960s, the Dallas Zoo was a popular and profitable attraction.  In 1966, the zoo displayed over five hundred species of animals.  Over time more emphasis was placed on saving endangered species and breeding animals in captivity.  The Dallas Zoo cooperated with this program and was accredited in 1985.  Major exhibits include the Wilds of Africa, opened June 1990; the 19,000-square-foot Kimberly-Clark Chimpanzee Forest exhibit, 1997; the ExxonMobil Endangered Tiger Habitat, 1999; and the Giants of the Savanna habitat, 2010.  On August 12, 2009, the Dallas City Council turned the zoo over to the Dallas Zoological Society (founded 1955) for private management beginning October 1 that year.  


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, or use by any and all other current or future developed methods or procedures must be obtained in writing from the Dallas Municipal Archives. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards.


Dallas Zoo (Marsalis Park), 1952-1955, 1968-1980, 1991 (Box <x>, Folder <y>), Dallas Municipal Archives

Related Material

Collection 2003-010—History of the Dallas Zoo

Index Terms

Dallas -- Texas -- History
Dallas Zoo
Zoos -- Texas -- Dallas -- Planning

Container List​

BoxFolderTitle, Date
11Hare and Hare preliminary study map, 1952
 2Proposals for Marsalis Zoo, 1954
 3Topographical study maps and zoo structure sketches, circa 1954
 4Food service facility report and design, 1968
 5Dallas Zoo historical profile and timeline, 1969
 6Dallas Zoo newsletter and associated memoranda, 1971
 7Boa constrictor correspondence and memoranda, 1971
 8Dallas Zoo News, Volume 2, Number 1, 1972
 9Specifications and contract documents for aviary exhibits, 1973
 10Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, Zooplan Associates, Inc., 1979
 11Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, Herbert W. Riemer, 1979
 12Request For Proposal, master plan study for Dallas Zoo, 1978-1979
 13Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, Economics Research Associates, 1979
 14Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, Jerry M. Johnson, Inc., 1979
 15Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets/Halff Associates, 1979
 16Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, McFadzean, Everly and Associates, 1979
 17Dallas Zoo planning considerations, McFadzean, Everly and Associates, 1979
 18Master plan study proposal for Dallas Zoo, Animal/People Environments, 1979
 19Proposed Marsalis Zoo Expansion: Impact on Adjacent Neighborhoods, Dallas Department of Urban Planning, 1980
 20Wilds of Africa souvenir book, 1991 (2 copies)