You are looking at a very old postcard of Woodland Park Zoo. It can be no older than dating back to 1899, which is when the zoo opened.
A developer/mill owner named Guy C. Phinney had a small collection of animals on his estate, which he sold to the City of Seattle for $5,000. And the city's assumption of the property's $95,000 mortgage. Seattle's skinflint mayor vetoed the deal, but the city council over-ruled the veto.
Thus began Woodland Park Zoo.
In 1902 a Boston park design company called Olmstead Brothers were hired to design Seattle parks, including Woodland Park and its zoo.
Now, well over a century later, in July of 2010, Woodland Park Zoo has 92 acres of exhibits.
Currently, to enter Woodland Park Zoo, it costs $16.50 for adults. One is considered an adult at 13 at Woodland Park Zoo. And no longer an adult at 64. I assume at 64 one becomes a senior citizen and the entry fee is cheaper. For kids, 3-12, it'll cost you $11.00 to get them in the zoo. Two and under is free. Fees go down from October 1 til April 30, at $11.00 for adults and $8.00 for kids.
In Woodland Park Zoo you'll find 300 species, 1,090 animals, 35 of which are endangered and 5 of which are threatened. The park has over 1,000 plant species with 7,000 tree and over 50,000 herbs and shrubs.
Only New York's Bronx Zoo has won more Best National Exhibit Awards from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums than Woodland Park Zoo.
The Gorilla Exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo is considered to be the world's first immersion habitat, with an immersion habitat being one in which the exhibit replicates the animal's natural environment with the viewer feeling as if they are in that environment.
The African Savanna won a National Best Exhibit award. The African Savanna, like the Gorilla Exhibit, was another first of its kind. You enter the savanna through an African village, outside of which you'll find zebras, ostriches, giraffes, gazelles and hippopotamus. Hidden moats keep the herbivores separate from the carnivores, so as not to get eaten by the lions and African wild dogs.
The Northern Trail is another National Best Exhibit Award winner, winning when it opened in 1994. On the Northern Trail you walk through Tundra, Montane and Taiga habitats. The Northern Trail is designed to look like a trail in Denali National Park in Alaska. You'll find grizzly bears, wolves, foxes, mountain goats and bald eagles. The bears are particularly memorable as you view them from inside a cave which gives you an underwater view of the splashing bears.
Tropical Asia, opened in 1990, with the Elephant Forest section winning a National Best Exhibit Award. The Trail of Vines section of Tropical Asia takes you through Southeast Asian rainforest habitats, where some of the animals you'll see are Malayan tapirs, lion-tailed macaques, Indian pythons, orangutans and siamangs.
Tropical Rain Forest won a Best Exhibit Award when it opened in 1992. The Tropical Rain Forest is like a walk through a jungle canopy, following a trail as you view levels of the forest from underwater viewing of jaguars, to high in the forest with ocelots, bushmasters, toucans, tamarins and poison arrow frogs. And outside trails leads to other rain forest species, like lemurs and colubus monkeys, eventually taking you to the Gorilla Exhibit.
Bobo the Gorilla
The most famous animal ever to call Woodland Park Zoo home was Bobo the Gorilla. In the era before professional sports came to town, before the Seattle World's Fair, before Seattle became the tourist attraction it is today, Bobo was one of the most visited attractions in the Pacific Northwest.
Bobo was born in Africa in 1951. A hunter named William "Gorilla Bill" Said murdered Bobo's mom when Bobo was only about 2 weeks old. Said was unable to sell Bobo to any zoo, what with Bobo being the youngest gorilla ever captured.
Gorilla Bill took Bobo back to his home in Columbus, Ohio where his mother tried to take over the job of the mother Gorilla Bill had murdered. A few months later a fisherman from Anacortes, named Bill Lowman, bought Bobo from Gorilla Bill.
Bobo was driven from Ohio to Anacortes where he moved in with the Lowmans. Soon Bobo became famous in the Skagit Valley. The Lowmans raised Bobo like he was a human baby. But, by the time Bobo was about 2 years old he'd become quite a handful, wreaking havoc on the Lowman's home.
In 1953 the Lowmans sold Bobo to Woodland Park Zoo, where he quickly became the star attraction. It was due to Bobo, and people not liking the primitive primate house in which Bobo lived, that public support was sufficient to pass a big bond issue to build a new gorilla habitat and basically turn Woodland Park Zoo into the multiple award winning zoo it is today.
Bobo never forgot the Lowmans, always recognizing them when they came to visit.
In 1956 Bobo met Fifi. Fifi quickly attached herself to Bobo. There was great hope that Bobo and Fifi would mate and make little Bobos and Fifis. But, that never happened, to the great disapointment of the public and the zookeepers.
Seattle and the Pacific Northwest were shocked on February 22, 1968 to learn that Bobo was found dead in his cage. A great controversy, that has never been resolved, arose over what killed Bobo. An autopsy claimed the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism. Bobo's corpse was mistreated, his head removed and lost.
Bobo died before he could move into the new natural habitat that he helped bring about. I don't remember what became of Fifi.