The century long history of the Milwaukee County Zoo is as colorful as its animals and attractions. Over the decades, the zoo has collected and acquired diverse animals from all over the world and greatly contributed to the field of zoology.
"Gradually as they acquired more animals, the zoo developed slowly over time," says Mary Kazmierczak. "From 12 deer and an eagle to what we have today."
"In 1906 is the first history of the Washington Park Zoo and the Elephant show booklet," says Elizabeth Frank. "And it talks about the zoo having an eagle and a nasty tempered goat, they had 200 white rats, one girl donated her guinea pig, so it was a very eclectic collection."
Some animals in particular have stood out in the zoo’s history. Besides Samson the gorilla, who may be the zoo’s most famous animal, there’s the bear who ate his way through his wooden cage and Jacob the Hippo, who reportedly only understood German.
Authors Mary Kazmierczak, Elizabeth Frank, and Darlene Winter have captured the full history of the zoo in their new book Milwaukee County Zoo from the “Images of America” series.
The authors have a close individual connection to the zoo. Mary Kazmierczak is the librarian and information specialist for the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. Elizabeth Frank is a former zoo keeper and curator from Washington, D.C. who now volunteers in the Milwaukee County Zoo’s library and archive. And Darlene Winter a local author who promotes the zoo through her work.
The book was just released earlier this week and the authors will be signing copies on Saturday from 10-noon at the Milwaukee County Zoo and from 2-4 at the Barnes and Noble on South 76th Street in Greenfield.