Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ghosts At Franklin Park Zoo

I found the pictures below at the Library of Congress web site. They were taken in 1978, and apparently someone decided to record the buildings for posterity. It's a shame they didn't think to take pictures before they removed the animals - these photos are spooky to me. I remember the buildings, but only just. The last time my parents brought me to the zoo was probably 1965. In light of today's zoo practices, these buildings seem positively primitive. They were old and run down when I saw them, but the animals were no less grand for their surroundings. For those who wince at the tiny, bare quarters the animals were held in, a story. My father told me that when he was at the zoo once - probably pre-war - he watched an elderly woman approach the lion cage at the outside corner of the building. The cat, a big male, looked at the lady, lifted his leg, and sent a stream of piss directly towards her head. No doubt, the old lady took one for our sins, bless her soul.

I wonder what happened to the head that projected from the building above the front door of the elephant house. Did they just destroy it? It was modeled on one of the three original elephants who opened the zoo. There must be someone who knows the answer to this.


  1. I know what happened to that head! In a Boston Globe article (Aug. 4, 1978) they report efforts to try to remove and save the head before demolishing the old elephant house. Unfortunately they dropped the head and the trunk broke into hundreds of pieces, although the rest of the head was intact. The article ends with a question about whether or not they would repair the head.

    I'm the curator at the Boston Children's Museum and am very interested in the zoo's first elephants - Molly, Waddy and Tony. Feel free to contact me if you'd like to exchange information.

  2. Thank you for all the information you have posted about the zoo! I have always been absolutely fascinated, but unable to find nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity! lala, thank you for answering the question I also had about the elephant head. How sad! I would like to know what happened to, what I believe was known as, the Antelope House, but can never seem to find anything.

  3. The Antelope House is still intact and is located behind the front right exhibit of the zoo. You can see it up on a hill when you enter through the front entrance. I'm a zookeeper at the zoo now and it's really eery to walk through the building and see the small cages and know that they each housed a solitary antelope. The building, as of right now, is condemned and public entrance is forbidden. However, due to historic reasons, will not be torn down anytime soon.

    1. Thank you for your response!! I was lucky enough to get an up-close view of it, this past summer. Majestic and so sad it is literally rotting away.

  4. Are there any old photos of the Antelope House?
    My email is safbsaa@aim.com, I would love it if you could answer some of my questions as well, anyone if they know about some Zoo history.

    Thank you so much.

  5. There is a photo of the Antelope House in the Boston Globe for Oct. 3, 1932.

  6. is the expansion hppeneing at the Franklin Park Zoo? It was in the papers a few years ago. I used to love the exhibit at the zook I think it was by the birdcages..it's abandoned now and dry, it had like streams, waterfalls. Maybe where the flamigos are now?