The Red Light Room

The Wildlife Conservation Society has a collection of approximately 54,000 historical photographic negatives that date back to the opening of the Bronx Zoo in 1899. In order to preserve the integrity of these negatives and enhance access to their historic imagery, the WCS Archives has undertaken an enormous negative re-housing and evaluation project, which began in 2016. The bulk of the collection features photographs of the various inhabitants of the zoo but also documents other aspects of WCS’s history, including images of the New York Aquarium and of early field expeditions. The chronological assessment of these negatives has illuminated important milestones in the Bronx Zoo’s history and evolution to the zoological park it has become today. One such milestone occurred in 1961 in the Small Mammal House.

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A Familiar Scene [Wild View]

Over on WCS’s photo blog Wild View, we highlight how sea lions have been part of the Bronx Zoo since the Wildlife Conservation Society opened the park in 1899, and sea lions are part of all five zoos and the aquarium that WCS operates. 

WCS Department of Education 90th Anniversary [Instagram]

We are celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the WCS Department of Education! In this photo, the first Curator of Education, Claude Leister, lectures school children in 1931. Today, the Education Department works to inspire a diverse, inclusive movement of conservation advocates through their programs and activities across the five WCS parks.

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World Snow Leopard Day [Instagram]

Happy World Snow Leopard Day! This poster was used by WCS and partner organizations in the 1970s to foster snow leopard preservation in Pakistan. The text translated from Urdu says “Snow Cheetah, This beautiful animal is protected by law but it cannot survive without your help and cooperation. Let it remain alive. It is a precious treasure of Pakistan.”

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A Venezuelan Frog [Instagram]

A frog sits perched on the branch of a plant in Venezuela. This frog was observed by WCS’s Department of Tropical Research, who spent time studying wildlife in Venezuela in the 1920s and 1940s.

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Red Light for Nocturnal Animals [Instagram]

In the 1960s, the Mammalogy Department at the Bronx Zoo invented an exhibit specially for housing nocturnal animals. The Red Light Room in the Small Mammal House opened in 1961, and it used Red Lights to help create a day cycle for the animals. Red light is bright for humans and dim for the animals, so the room allowed visitors to see the animals being active in their nighttime environment. White light at night simulated day time, when the animals sleep. This method was then implemented in the World of Darkness exhibit at the zoo that opened in 1969, which is featured in this photo.

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