The Best! Christmas at the Number One US Zoo - Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Wildlights for the Winter Holidays

Mudhole to Megaplex

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium just north of Columbus, Ohio in Powell is about the best place to take a child in the state. It is a megalopolis now in comparison to its former location south of Graceland Shopping Center on North High Street in the early 1900s. Few details are available about the old Columbus Zoological Company, but first mention has been found in the 1903 Columbus City Directory (in our Ohio Historical Society archives) as Columbus Zoological Gardens, High Street, 2 miles north of city limits. A grand opening was held on May 28, 1905, but the Zoo closed in October. Another opening was held in 1927.

In these old days, the zoo inhabited some 215 acres of land beside a group of fishing cottages that are permanent homes today located beside the strip shopping center of Graceland. It's fun to drive around that neighborhood of Old Beechwold and see the tiny houses. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, this was a vacation resort area outside the northern Columbus city limits. Senior citizens remember not only a few animals from that old zoo, including monkeys and elephants, but also some rides, picnic grounds, carousels, a billiard hall, and a dance pavilion.

At any rate, a zoo sprang up in 1927 with some donated animals and extended from High Street on the east to the Olentangy River on the West until about 1940. In the latter year, additional animals were acquired and the Zoo improved up to 1951. Then it moved to its current site on Riverside Drive by the Scioto River. People living in the former resort area in the decades following the move said their kids dug up large animal bones and even a sawfish head.

In 2012- 2013, the venue i Powell is a huge development with additional land yet untouched - 500 new acres are ready for opening as a green space for wildlife.. There is plenty to see and do at the Zoo, while children and adults exercise by walking the pathways and exhibit areas. The Zoo is ADA friendly as well, accessible to people with all sorts of challenges.

I have been privileged to know a few docents at the Zoo in the past, a few people that have been foster parents to birds of the Zoo, and a few employees. I've even been able to see the "back stage" area and visited a python (who felt like plastic) and two tiger cubs. I have stayed with a friend up the road and heard the lions roaring in the morning and learned about overnight experiences at the Zoo for youth and families. I can't wait to visit again.

Number One Zoo - No More #2

TRIVIA

The 2011 Guinness World Records book shows that Fluffy the Reticulated Python from the Columbus Zoo was the longest snake in captivity -- 24ft (7.3m) long.

Historic Zoo Sites

show route and directions
A markerColumbus Zoo and Aquarium, Columbus OH -
Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, 9990 Riverside Dr, Powell, OH 43065, USA
[get directions]

In 2013 an additional 500 acres of land is to open at the zoo as open green space for animals.

B markerGraceland Shopping Center, Columbus OH -
Graceland Shopping Center, Columbus, OH 43214, USA
[get directions]

This area used to be a vacation resort on the northern border of Columbus, Ohio; and then the zoo. Residents still dig up related bones occasionally.

Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

New Life and New Features for Kids and Adults

From 1951 to the late 1960s, the property seemed to deteriorate into muddy acreage with a few animals and a broken 1/4-scale passenger train, but we loved the elephants, tigers, monkeys, a giraffe, Colo the gorilla, and white raccoons that kids could see. Then, some additional tax funding helped to improve the grounds and animal holdings.

The Gooding Amusement Park and a picnic ground were attached to the Zoo and a carousel, which was retored and placed back into operation around the year 2000, was the centerpiece of a small, fun midway. I am happy that this carousel was restored, because after my first ride, I read Prance a Carousel Horse by Miriam Young, and was "hooked" forever on seeing hand-carved carousel horses.

The events that caused the zoo and aquarium to bloom after 1978 were the proactive moves of the City of Columbus, the voter approval of needed tax funding, and the installation of Jack Hanna as Executive Director for 14 years (now Emeritus). The changes were awesome and families with children began to flock to the Zoo. In fact, everybody that had transportation began visiting. However, in the last couple of decades, a dedicated ZOO Bus in the Columbus COTA Transit System has brought riders from Downtown to the Zoo several times a day during the warmer months.

The Zoo hosts many shows during each year and one of them is a show full of trained rescue animals that have been collected from various places and saved from euthanasia. Access the Zoo link above and look at all the things you and your family can see and do at the Columbus Zoo.

Colo, born in 1956 and still healthy and active.
Colo, born in 1956 and still healthy and active. | Source

Saving the Lowland Gorilla

As early as 1950, the Columbus Zoo began programming that proved that Lowland Gorilla could be born and raised in captivity. The living proof is Colo, born in 1956 - she is still living and a great grandmother! She is 54 years old and the first gorilla born in captivity. Further, her grandsons were the first gorilla twins born in captivity.

It all began by chance in 1950. A Columbus area resident captured a pair of gorillas in Africa and he brought them to America around Christmas, but they had no place to go. He called the Columbus Zoo and found them a home there in January 1951. The whole story can be seen at : Colo the Lowland Gorilla.

I Love Our Zoo's Flying Fox

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Comments 13 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I want a flying fox for a friend.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Me too! We were just watching the video. Too cool. Yes the Columbus Zoo has really come a long way. Excellent article, Patty. Love it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, Frieda - It's a lot of fun.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Better a friend, Patty, than an enemy! Great videos.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Yes, he might be able to carry one away. :)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for the lovely tour of the zoo. I am glad that it had been re-established. It is sad to see a zoo go into neglect especially for the animals' sake


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Hello, hello - I really liked the carousel and the raccoons, but was happy after Jack Hanna began making a difference. I felt bad about the muddy land and the smelly animal quarters. The animals were friendly though and loved the attention of visitors. Now the animals have more open quarters and no bars.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

Hahaa! Love "No More #2"!!!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Heehee - Crazy but not offensive. I totally did not expect it.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Wonderful - just really great! I love zoos and aquariums (probably in part because I have kids) Great job Patty!


yoebaree profile image

yoebaree 4 years ago from Romania

The lights...I want them. Those animals had an awesome party that evening! Great hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

The zoo surely does some great things for our town and its animals.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Don't forget to visit the Wild Lights! at the Columbus Zoo this year frm November 16, 2012 - January 1, 2013. Power is donated by our local utilities company.

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