May 28, 2022

Milwaukee County Zoo turns 125, celebrating with variety of activities

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By Chris Barlow From Wauwotosa Now

From its 1892 beginnings as a miniature mammal and bird display in Milwaukee’s Washington Park, the Milwaukee County Zoo grew into the world class exhibit it is today.

This summer the zoo is commemorating its 125th anniversary with a variety of activities offered to visitors.

“The zoo has been a great place to visit for 125 years,” Laura Pedriani, marketing and communications director at the zoo said. “It is a family-friendly, fun place to visit.”

In 1958, the zoo moved to its present location, 10001 W. Bluemound Road, on nearly 200 acres of parkland. Currently over 3,300 animals — representing 374 different species — are on display.

“Today, the Milwaukee County Zoo is an accredited institution of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and ranks among the top zoos in the nation,” Zoo Public Relations Coordinator Jennifer Diliberti-Shea said.

“The zoo has become increasingly involved in the propagation and conservation of endangered species, and currently participates in several significant breeding programs, including bonobos, Grand Cayman blue iguanas and Humboldt penguins,” Diliberti-Shea said.

The Washington Park version of the zoo eventually expanded to cover 23 acres and had acquired 800 animals. The present location is the site of the 2017 celebration of the zoo’s history.

As one of the state’s most popular attractions, Diliberti-Shea said the zoo is proud to have been a part of many generations of visitors.

“We now see adults who had visited as kids returning to share the zoo with their own families,” she said. “We look forward to being a part of the community for many more decades.”

125th birthday celebration events

A Historical Safari:

Journey from 1892 to present day as the zoo’s historic timeline is displayed with photos, stories and descriptions of important events spanning 125 years.

Familiar Faces:

It’s all about the animals as you browse through special photo displays in the Front Entrance Mall, the U.S. Bank Gathering Place, Flamingo Café and Lakeview Place, giving recognition to the most iconic residents to call the zoo home.

Roll-Back Weekends:

Over two designated weekends, take a trip back in time and enjoy reduced prices on concessions and merchandise. These two weekends will take place in November.

What’s a Party without a Cake?

Have your photo taken with our giant (11-foot tall) commemorative cake, complete with animal-print frosting and some of the zoo’s signature species adorning this “almost real enough to eat” towering treat.

Zoomobile Tour:

Hop aboard the Zoomobile tram, sponsored by Meijer, and reminisce with a special script of historical information on the zoo, new facts and trivia highlighting the zoo’s storied history.

Prize Patrol:

For 125 days at 1:25 p.m., a lucky visitor will be chosen by the “Prize Patrol” to receive exciting giveaways, such as free tickets for the North Shore Bank Safari Train, Oceans of Fun Seal & Sea Lion Show, free concessions items or even zoo merchandise from the Karibu Gift Shop.

Official 125th Anniversary Party:

Saturday, July 15 the zoo celebrated its 125th anniversary by entertaining guests with live music, activities, special treats and more.

A Sight to Behold:

Enjoy special aesthetic features around the grounds, such as floral designs created by the zoo’s Horticulture Department, special pumpkin displays during the zoo’s Halloween events and festive ice carvings during the holiday season.

Social Media Contests Galore:

Be on the lookout for numerous social media contests throughout the year, in which the zoo will award great prizes like 125 free admissions to the zoo.

A 1919 photograph of Sultana (right) one of the original four polar bears at the Milwaukee County Zoo’s beginnings in Washington Park in Milwaukee. The bear brought the zoo worldwide fame in 1919 by giving birth to the first polar bear cub to survive in captivity in North America. The cub, named Zero, was born in December, when temperatures were near zero. (Photo: Submitted)
(Photo: Submitted/Milwaukee Public Library)

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