Animals at Washington Park Zoo.

75 Animals added  To El Paso Zoo, El Paso Herald-Post, Jan 7, 1929 page 3

In 1928 the El Paso Zoo at Washington Park acquired 75 new birds and animals through births and sale. One of the animals was a lioness named, Frances valued at $450, she was acquired from a circus, trading two mountain lions. Three cubs were born to one of the mountain lions. Buffalo calves were purchased by the zoo, they sold two to a Texas farmer while keeping “Susie.”  The zoo sold some wolf puppies to the public as pets. Mandarin ducks from China were added along with a pair of swans purchased for $150. Other additions included some reindeer. At the time the zoo had two lions, two mountain lions, two coatimundi, four timberwolves, four Lobo wolves, one cinnamon bear, one black bear, five wildcats, three badgers, four coons, 18 monkeys, six deer, five goats, two javelina hogs, six buffalo, three ostrich, 60 ducks, pigeons, 6 geese, eight parrots, four Eagles, six squirrels, and four reindeer. The zoo feed was valued at $450 and the zoo cost the city $5,000 a year. The zoo was the biggest attraction in the park.

Park Veteran, Leo, the Lion, was shot when he lost his appetite  Feb 21, 1939,El Paso Times,

Leo, the lion was put out of his misery by a caliber bullet shot in his brain.  His body was removed to the taxidermy firm of Jesse Blanco. The hide was given to the big game hunter, J.W. Peak. Leon came to El Paso after being sold to the City in. He had been used in a Juarez Bullring.

El Paso Zoo to Native Animals From the Desert, August 9, 1939. El Paso Herald-Post.

El Paso Zoo Commissioner, Lou Meyer, was building up the zoo to include only native animals of the Southwest. This move was expected to increase the 80 different kinds of animals at the Zoo. A colony of prairie dogs was bought to the zoo with 24 blackbirds. Native animals were also brought over by three hunters from Silver City.

Lioness at El Paso Zoo Dies  and Leaves a Young Cub, Jan 12, 1944, El Paso Herald-Post

Rosie the Lioness at Washington Park died at age 40 of probably of pneumonia, leaving a six-month cub named, King.  The El Paso Zoo Commissioner, Lou Meyer, believed the weather was too cold and that many of the animals had rheumatism. Meyer believed the animals needed to put it “a cage that would extend over the soft earth” and he was going to go before the city council to request this. Rosie was traded from Ringling Brother’s Circus. The City traded a Puma and Doe for her. Rosie was valued at 400. Rosie succeeded Leo when he died in 1939.

Washington Park Shows New Animals Oct 20, 1963, El Paso Times

A new wall entrance was built on the main street through Washington Park. It was famed with an attractive modernistic designation of the Zoo blooming flowers. Some of the new animals on display were Susie and Spicy, two black sea lions, fed by a zookeeper who’s pail was full of 25 pounds of fresh fish. The sea lion dove in and out of the water, going to the side along the glass to watch for the Zookeepers with their food.

Two Lions Kill Tiger at Washington Park, July 20, 1972, El Pas Herald-Post

A worker accidentally opened the wrong pen letting a lion and a lioness into the pen of the $1,000 Bengal Tiger named Raja. The fire department tried to break up the flight with their water hose, but it was too late for Raja, who was so badly injured he had to be put to sleep. The El Paso Zoo Director, Ray Arras, opened bids for the Tiger pelt.

-Joseph Longo

Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.