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
Collection 2003-010—History of the Dallas Zoo