Posts Tagged ‘Central Park Menagerie’

The panther on the hunt in Central Park

January 28, 2013

Joggers and cyclists hurtling up East Drive near the Ramble are always mistaking this sculpture for the real thing.

Centralparkpanther

Perched on top of a steep hill at about 76th Street and looking like he’s ready to pounce, it’s a ferocious panther in bronze, officially titled “Still Hunt.” Here’s the park from the panther’s point of view.

PanthercentralparkcloseCreated in 1883 by Georgia-born sculptor Edward Kemeys, it’s one of the few sculptures in Central Park meant to look natural and blend in—which is why it has no plaque and makes passersby do a double take.

Kemeys, who helped build Central Park and was inspired by the real-life animals at the Central Park Zoo (then called the Menagerie) was an animalier, and his jaguars, lions, and other creatures are on display in cities across the country.

The Central Park panther isn’t Kemeys’ only panther in New York City. His “Panther and Cubs” bronze sculpture belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, about six blocks north.

A shipment of sea lions at the Central Park Zoo

February 22, 2011

I’m not sure if this is the exact sea lion pool currently at the Central Park Zoo. But these funny creatures were clearly as big a hit with zoo-goers a century ago as they are today.

They may be the same sea lions described in a June 1891 New York Times article, about an “unexpected” addition of 23 adult and one infant sea lion, captured in California and then seized en route to Buffalo from a railroad car at 60th Street.

“The animals remained shut up in the tight box car all night without food or water,” reported the Times.

“Streams of water were turned upon the survivors, and two wagonloads of fish were fed them. They were carted in three stock-yard express wagons to the Menagerie.”

The Great Central Park Zoo Escape

April 10, 2009

It’s 1874. Central Park is about 15 years old, the playground of New York’s leisure class. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the menagerie near East 64th Street, home to elephants, zebras, bison, big cats, and monkeys, among other creatures.

zoohoaxheadlineOn November 9, the New York Herald ran an article reporting that all the animals had escaped their cages and were roaming free in the park, leaving dozens of people “mutilated, trampled, and injured,” not to mention killed. 

It wasn’t true of course; at the very end the writer admits it’s a completely made up version of what might happen if conditions in the menagerie aren’t improved.

But how many people read all the way to the end of the piece? Not many, considering the panic that gripped New Yorkers that day. The entire city fell into a frenzy before finding out that it was all a hoax.

The rival New York Times was miffed enough to editorialize about the stunt. The Times article called it “a violation not only of journalistic propriety and a due respect for the public, but also of common decency and humanity.”

I love this last line in the article at left, “Governor Dix Shoots the Bengal Tiger in the Street.” Can you imagine Governor Paterson doing that?


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