Author Archives: wcsarchivesadmin

Endangered Species Day 2019

For Endangered Species Day, we’re revisiting the story from 1905 when Bronx Zoo director William Hornaday formed the American Bison Society (ABS) to save the species from extinction. The Wildlife Conservation Society continues the fight to save wildlife and wild places.

Learn more about the work of the ABS in this Wild View post. For some information about bison at the Bronx Zoo today, look to this week’s Wild View post.

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124th Anniversary Blackout Poetry

To celebrate today’s 124th anniversary of WCS (founded as the New York Zoological Society), we held a blackout poetry contest using the first page of the Society’s First Annual Report during our staff Library & Archives Open House last week. Here are some selections of the poetry our creative staff came up with! 

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National Library Week 2019 [Instagram]

For National Library Week, we’re highlighting books in our library written and edited by WCS authors, both historical and present: William Bridges, William Hornaday, George Schaller, William Beebe, Amy Vedder and Bill Weber, Liz Bennett and John Robinson, and Ullas Karanth.

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The Alligator Chorus [Wild View]

Did you know that alligators sometimes bellow together to create their own little chorus? In a 1919 article from a WCS published magazine, there is a story about the Bronx Zoo alligators singing along to the whistles of ships returning to New York from World War I. Here we have the article as well as a photo of the largest alligator at the Zoo at the time. For more, read the blog post at Wild View.

International Women’s Day [Instagram]

It’s International Women’s Day! We’re joining the Biodiversity Heritage Library in celebrating women in natural history by featuring the work of artist Else Bostelmann.

Else Bostelmann. Saber-toothed viper fish (Chauliodus sloanei) chasing ocean sunfish (Mola mola) larva, Bermuda, 1934. Scanned from WCS Archives Collection 1039.
Else Bostelmann. Monacanthus ciliatus, Bermuda, 1930. Scanned from WCS Archives Collection 1039.


From 1929 to 1934, Bostelmann served as a member of WCS’s Department of Tropical Research staff.  Using her artist’s skills, she brought to life the incredible marine creatures the DTR explored in the deep seas around Bermuda.  Some of her work was featured in National Geographic, making visible for the first time these never-before-seen species.

Else Bostelmann at work in Bermuda, June 1931. Scanned from WCS Photo Collection (DTR)


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World Gorilla Day [Instagram]

On #WorldGorillaDay, we’re remembering the pioneering mountain gorilla studies conducted by George Schaller in 1959 and 1960.  Sponsored by WCS, Schaller and John Emlen surveyed gorilla populations in Uganda and what was then the Belgian Congo. Their studies helped to establish population data that continues to guide conservationists today. Schaller also conducted further field research into the behavior and ecology of mountain gorillas. Approaching them with “empathy and respect,” as he has written, he spent several months making unprecedented observations of gorillas.  His groundbreaking work dispelled then-popular notions of gorillas as ferocious beasts, and helped to promote an understanding of the gorilla as shy, gentle, and vulnerable.

Image: Gorilla distribution map from Emlen, J. T. and G. B. Schaller. Distribution and status of the mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla beringei)—1959. Zoologica 45.5 (1960).

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Happy International Vulture Awareness Day! [Instagram]

 

Happy International Vulture Awareness Day! This beauty was illustrated by an unidentified artist working for the Department of Tropical Research during their ecological expeditions in British Guiana in 1916. Anyone recognize the species? We’re thinking yellow-headed vulture, which William Beebe described in some of his early writing.

Image from WCS Archives Collection 1039

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8/8/88: Happy 30th (Re)Birthday, Central Park Zoo

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Central Park Zoo’s reopening under WCS management.

Invitation to the reopening of the Central Park Zoo, 1988. WCS Archives Collection 2016

Until 1980, the City Zoos were administered by New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. New York City officially chartered the already existing Central Park Menagerie in 1864; in 1934 Robert Moses had it rebuilt as part of his plan to update parks and recreation areas in the city.

Invitation to Central Park Zoo’s reopening, 1934. WCS Archives Collection 2016

By the mid-1970s, all three City Zoos were in decline; troubles were exacerbated by the New York City budget crisis of the era. In an environment of bad press and lawsuits against the city on the zoos’ behalf, city government and WCS (then known as the New York Zoological Society) engaged in negotiations for the handover of the zoos to the Society. After over a decade of talks, the parties finally reached agreement in 1980, at which point the Society’s City Zoos Project began. Education Curator Richard L. Lattis was named the project’s director and oversaw the staged shutdown of the three zoos, their redesign, construction, and reopening.

Mayor Ed Koch and crowds at the reopening of the Central Park Zoo, August 8, 1988. WCS Photo Collection

Central Park Zoo closed in 1983 and reopened August 8, 1988 to great fanfare and extensive press coverage. New York Magazine–which, in 1977, had noted the widespread opinion that Central Park Zoo was “not fit for animals” at that time–ran a July 18, 1988 cover story on the new “state-of-the art” zoo.  The New York Times ran a front-page photo, announcing, “At Last, a Joy for All Ages: Central Park Zoo is Back.” Mayor Ed Koch led the reopening event and tossed out the inaugural fish in the Sea Lion Pool. Even Jim Henson excitedly recorded the event in his diary: “8/8/1988: New Central Park Zoo opens!”

Model for new Central Park Zoo, 1983. WCS Archives Collection 3003

The redesign of the Central Park Zoo was led by renowned architect Kevin Roche. Models such as the one shown here were created as part of the process. Upon the reopening of the Zoo in 1988 under WCS management, The New York Times declared that Roche had “wrought a piece of architecture at once spectacular and exquisite. The new Central Park Zoo … is one of the few pieces of civic architecture built in New York in the last generation about which it is possible to be almost completely enthusiastic. It is beautiful, it is fun to be in, it respects the park and it respects the animals. What more could we want?”

Happy Cephalopod Week! [Instagram]

 

We’re celebrating Cephalopod Week with this squid illustration by Department of Tropical Research staff artist Helen Damrosch Tee-Van, done in 1929 during the DTR’s explorations of marine life around Bermuda. While the DTR identified this as a “long-spined giant squid,” no such animal is known today. Any squid experts out there recognize this species? 

And for making it to the end of this post, we’re rewarding you with a squid joke: 

Q: What does it take to make a squid laugh? 

A: Ten tickles!  

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