We’ll forgive you for not recognizing them, but pictured above are a couple stars of tortoise conservation history. During the 1920s, New York Aquarium Director Charles Townsend became concerned about the declining populations of Galápagos tortoises. He warned of their impending extinction in a 1924 article published in the New York Zoological Society Bulletin. Townsend’s original research had led him to conclude that the tortoise had already disappeared from some of the Galápagos Islands, and he advocated for the animal’s preservation. In 1928, Townsend led a New York Zoological Society expedition to the Galápagos Islands. During this expedition, he collected 182 tortoises. With the goal of establishing captive breeding programs in order to thwart their potential extinction, he distributed these tortoises to zoos and aquariums around the world – with 23 coming to the Bronx Zoo, including the two pictured here.
Read more about Townsend’s tortoises at Wild View.
On January 20, we celebrated Penguin Awareness Day, and we celebrated by making you aware of Annie, the black-footed penguin being held here by New York Zoological Society President Fairfield Osborn at the dedication ceremony for the new New York Aquarium at Coney Island on June 5, 1957. During the ceremony, Annie did the honors and (prompted by the promise of a tasty fish) cut the ribbon with his beak. And you read that right—originally thought to be a female penguin, Annie turned out to be male.
Happy New Year! 2018 is the Year of the Dog, and here are two American Eskimo Dogs at the Bronx Zoo in 1902. One of the dogs, Bridge, accompanied Arctic explorer Robert Peary on an expedition to the northernmost point on land in Greenland. After his grueling work to complete the trip, Bridge was given to the zoo, where, according to the 1907 book Wild-Animal Celebrities, he lived “in ease and comfort and seem[ed] to enjoy it in the full.” He was also given a female companion, pictured here with him.
On Groundhog Day in 1928, the Bronx Zoo gathered what the New York Times called a “caucus of honorable groundhogs” to take part in the annual weather prediction tradition. The gathering of groundhogs ultimately saw their shadow that morning and declared more winter for New York City, and a broadcast with this result was sent out by the zoo’s woodchuck curator John Toomey. Above is one of the members of the Bronx Zoo Groundhog Day caucus seeing his shadow.