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CURRENT EXHIBIT

May - June 2012

San Diego Zoo Safari Park: Celebrating 40 Years

(Click on photographs to see larger images)

40th Anniversary, Full Exhibit

Overview

On May 10, 1972, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (then Wild Animal Park) officially opened its gates to the public after more than a decade of planning. Spearheaded by zoo director Charles Schroeder, the project stood as a groundbreaking achievement in conservation management and zoo visitor experience. The conceptual foundations of the park were to create a "game preserve" for the conservation and breeding of animals with a focus on endangered species, as well as to build a zoological attraction where visitors could view naturally occurring social groups of animals in expansive open spaces akin to their natural habitats. Ever since it opened forty years ago, the park has played a significant role as a model in redefining the vision and ambitions of the zoological community.

   
San Pasqual Valley Panorama, 1970

San Pasqual Valley Panorama, 1970

Site of the Wild Animal Park prior to much of its development.

   
Proposition B Endorsement for Public Vote, 1970

Proposition B Endorsement for Public Vote, 1970

On November 3, 1970, 75.9% of participating San Diego voters chose “Yes” to support Proposition B, a six million dollar bond proposal through which the city of San Diego assisted in the Wild Animal Park in "the acquisition, construction and completion of facilities to provide recreational, educational, scientific, ecological and research facilities in harmony with the open space concept of the vally." The Zoological Society of San Diego repaid the bond in full plus interest during successive years.

   
Park Construction: Wgasa Bush Line Monorail, October 1971 & Nairobi Fishing Village and Service Area, March 1972

Wgasa Bush Line Monorail Construction, October 1971

Nairobi Fishing Village and Service Area Construction, March 1972

The park's construction was documented in detail throughout development. Photographs attest to its transformation from a native chaparral landscape to an African village and vast plains where exotic animals from around the world roam free (right). A monorail was constructed to take groups of visitors around the park in close proximity to animals in their grazing habitat (left).

   
Park Dedication Day Preview Pass, May 9, 1972 & Park Souvenirs, circa 1972

Park Dedication Day Preview Pass,
May 9, 1972
(top)

Dedication Day Preview Pass for the private dedication of the park on Tuesday May 9, 1972, one day prior to the public opening ceremony.

Park Souvenirs, circa 1972
(bottom)

Two of the many souvenirs available to park visitors in the 1970s, including a photograph postcard booklet featuring park animals (left) and a sticker available to children who paid to ride an elephant (right). Elephant rides were discontinued in the early 1990s.

   

Wild Animal Park Landscape Photographs, circa 1972

Wild Animal Park Landscape Photographs, circa 1972

Images of the Wild Animal Park following its public opening. Photographs feature the Wgasa Bush Line monorail with visitors overlooking Mombasa Lagoon (top), the monorail alongside visitors viewing animals at an enclosure (middle), and a wooden bridge linking shady huts in Nairobi Village (bottom).

   
ParkClippings_AnimalAcquisitions

Newspaper Clippings

Two of many newspaper clippings documenting the release of animals on the Wild Animal Park’s expansive property prior to its public opening.

White Rhinoceros Release, February 1970

Twenty southern white rhinoceros were shipped to the Wild Animal Park from South Africa through a purchase agreement between Ian Player, chief conservator of the Republic of South Africa, and San Diego Zoo director Dr. Charles Schroeder.

Ostrich Release, 1971

Some thirty ostriches were donated to the Wild Animal Park by Art Carey, president of University Ford car dealership in San Diego.

   
Wild Animal Park Directional Road Sign, undated

Wild Animal Park Directional Road Sign, undated

This road sign was long situated on California State Route 78 at the intersection of Broadway Street and Mission Avenue in Escondido. It was removed circa 2010 when rebranding initiatives changed the Wild Animal Park to the Safari Park.

 

 

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