Hershey Zoo: A Walk on the Wild Side

Introduction

Additional images of Hershey Zoo and ZooAmerica can be found at the Archives' page on the Flickr website.  See also the essay on ZooAmerica for additional history for the zoo.

Throughout the 19th and early part of the 20th Century there were only a small number of wild animal collections in the United States. Not surprisingly, zoos were big city attractions. The Philadelphia Zoo, Bronx Zoo and Baltimore Zoo all opened during this time period.

Milton Hershey believed in providing his town with experiences not typical for a small town. Hershey Zoo began in 1905 with an exhibit of prairie dogs in Hershey Park. In 1910 the Zoo formally opened. Hershey Zoo sought to feature exotic animals in its exhibits. Lions, leopards, monkeys and exotic birds were popular early attractions.

The growth and development of Hershey's zoo has reflected changes in attitudes toward presenting wild animals in educational exhibits. The 1978 redevelopment of the Zoo as ZOOAMERICA reflected a commitment to care for captive animals' emotional and psychological needs as well as providing for their physical care.  Limiting its exhibits to animals native to North America allows ZOOAMERICA to emphasize the educational aspect of the zoo, combining entertainment with learning about native habitats.

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