Set of 2 postcards of Swope Park's Zoo and Animal House
Swope Park's fine new Zoo and Animal House of native field stone was opened and dedicated Dec. 13, 1909.
The postcard, published in color by the Southwest News Co. of Kansas City, pictures visitors at the outside cages of the building. Large sliding doors allowed the zoo keepers to limit the outdoor hours and keep the lions and tigers in adjoining indoor cages, where they could also be viewed by the public.
Feeding time was around 10 a.m. so many visitors hastened to catch early street cars to the park. Street cars (5 cents) ran frequently and it was only a short walk from the end of the line to the doors of the zoo.
Swope Park was acquired in 1896 by the generous gift of Thomas H. Swope, who gave 1,350 acres of land to the city for a public park, with the restriction that there never be a charge for admission. The land then lay far beyond the southern city limits and some citizens felt the location so remote that the ordinary people, for whose use it was intended, would never be able to reach or enjoy it.
The photographic postcard of Cleo the hippopotamus shows her in her small pool inside the zoo. Her expected offspring received weeks of publicity from the local newspaper, as names were suggested by an excited public.
Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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