Townsend’s Tortoises

© Wildlife Conservation Society

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.

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Penguin Awareness Day [Instagram]

© Wildlife Conservation Society

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.

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2018, Year of the Dog [Instagram]

© Wildlife Conservation Society

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.

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Happy Groundhog Day from the WCS Archives! [Instagram]

© Wildlife Conservation Society

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.

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African National Parks [Instagram]

Scanned from WCS Archives Collection 1029

Scanned from WCS Archives Collection 1029

Scanned from WCS Archives Collection 1029

Beginning in the late 1950s, WCS expanded its wildlife conservation efforts into Africa, with a particular interest in the establishment and management of national parks. The WCS Archives’ Fairfield Osborn collection includes letters and other documents related to this work, including these pamphlets for African national parks, produced in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was in Albert National Park (today Virunga National Park) in 1959 and 1960 that field biologist George Schaller, with WCS funding, conducted his pioneering studies into the ecology and behavior of mountain gorillas. WCS Archives Collection 1029. Collection processing made possible through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission Access to Historical Records grant program.

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#ArchivesCrafty [Instagram]

Here are some of the winners of the Animal Art Contest held during Children’s Day at the Bronx Zoo on September 4, 1974. The Education Department used Children’s Day to create events and activities to teach our young visitors about animals and conservation. 📷 WCS Archives Collection 2023. Collection processing made possible through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission Access to Historical Records grant program.

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Happy Halloween from the WCS Archives! [Instagram]

Happy Halloween from the WCS Archives! This vampire bat image was likely taken during a 1934 expedition to Trinidad, where the Bronx Zoo’s first Herpetology Curator Raymond Ditmars and his associate Arthur Greenhall studied the elusive species and brought back specimens for the zoo.  WCS Archives Accession 2014.121.

Not Nothing: Tying loose ends on our legacy digital workflow

“Contents: nothing”

As we get ready to celebrate the close of our Leon Levy Foundation-funded Legacy Digital project, we can take this opportunity to reflect on the work we’ve done and most importantly, the content we’ve transferred from physical storage media dating back to the early 1980s. The contents found on these 1,000 storage media items were, contrary to the image above, a whole lot of something: an assortment of audiovisual documentation, research papers, scientific hard data, meeting minutes, conference proposals and presentations, among other nuggets of insight into WCS’s activities over the past thirty years.  Continue reading

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Happy Pirate Day! [Instagram]

Here’s Don Dickerman, who, when he wasn’t measuring frigate bird wingspans as part of the Department of Tropical Research’s 1925 Arcturus Expedition to the Galápagos, was running a Greenwich Village nightclub called the Pirates’ Den. Obsessed with pirates, Dickerman also had a bit part in Errol Flynn’s pirate movie The Sea Hawk. Photo © WCS. WCS Archives DTR Photo Collection. #pirateday #frigatebird #galapagos #dtr #archives
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