Posts Tagged ‘Central Park Zoo’

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.

The two dancing goats at the Central Park Zoo

May 14, 2012

At the entrance to the Children’s Zoo in Central Park is this enchanting sculpture of a dancing boy, two dancing goats, and some curious birds.

They’re on top of the Lehman Gates, donated by former governor Herbert H. Lehman and his wife when the Children’s Zoo opened in 1961.

“The music is provided by two other boys positioned over the end posts, playing panpipes,” states the website for the Central Park Conservatory.

“Between the human figures is a curlicue of vegetation interwoven with birds, which appear to have just alighted. The whole composition is a lovely commentary on the interaction between children and animals, fitting for the zoo entrance.”

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.”

When elephants lived in Central Park

January 26, 2009

Meet Hattie and Jewel, a pachyderm pair who made their home in what was known as the elephant enclosure at the Central Park Zoo. 

This 1906 postcard reveals what a huge draw they were—thousands of people visted every week to watch them. But it also shows them with chains attached to their legs, a very sad sight.

elephantsinpark

Jewel was the moody one, arriving at the zoo in 1878 from the Barnum & Bailey Circus. She tried to kill a keeper, hurling him out of her enclosure with her trunk, according to a The New York Times article.

Hattie was young and plucky. In a story about her death in 1922 (keepers weren’t sure of her age) the Times wrote: 

“She became angry on another occasion at a man who tossed a lighted cigarette against her trunk. The man got away. Years afterward he came back. Hattie squinted at him through her little eyes, filled her trunk with muddy ooze and squirted it all over him.”

Jewel outlived Hattie and died in 1928 at 97. Another Times article reported that after a zoo veterinarian found her paralyzed in her enclosure, he shot her three times in the head, ending her life.


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