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ZOO TIMELINE

1882

The Zoo is established as a miniature mammal and bird display in Milwaukee’s Washington Park.

1902

Through continuous growth, the zoo expands to 800 animals on 23 acres of land.

1934

The Zoo becomes a Milwaukee County Park Commission entity, gaining the resources it needs to grow and prosper.

1958

The Zoo moves to its present location on a 200-acre wooded parkland (near the Milwaukee interchange of Highways 94 and 45).

1958 — 1968

New buildings are created including the Primate building, Aquarium/Reptile building, Australian buildings and Winter Quarters. New habitats are created including Monkey Island, Grizzly Bear, Polar Bear, Brown Bear, Feline, Pachyderm, Giraffe, Bird and Small Mammals.  

1970s

New additions include the Children's Zoo, Dall Sheep Exhibit, Train Shed, Zoo Hospital, Zoo Pride and Gift Shop. 

1985

An expansion/renovation master plan is initiated to address the growing needs of the zoo operation. Expansions include Wolf Woods, Polar Bear exhibit, Sea Lion exhibit, Dairy Complex and Peck Welcome Center. 

1992

$10.7 million dollar Apes of Africa primate facility opens housing western lowland gorillas and bonobos in a West African rain forest-themed exhibit.

1995

$3.3 million dollar newly renovated Aquatic & Reptile Center opens, featuring a 28,000-gallon Pacific Coast Marine Aquarium and Lake Wisconsin display.

2001 — 2008

$30 million dollar New Zoo II Capital Campaign, funded by the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, supports capital improvements.

2002

Japanese macaques are introduced to their renovated outdoor Macaque Island exhibit that provides new and higher climbing areas. 

2003

The Animal Health Center, made possible by Milwaukee County, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, the Gretchen and Andrew Dawes Charitable Trust and the Holz Family Foundation, is completed. The center accommodates waterfowl and warm-and-cold-climate animals, plus allows public observation. 

2004

The Karen Peck Katz Conservation Education Center is completed.  

2005

$7.2 million dollar Florence Mila Borchert Big Cat Country opens, showcasing jaguars and young African lions.

Newly renovated Northwestern Mutual Family Farm, formerly the Children’s Zoo, opens allowing visitors to interact with native wildlife and farm animals.

New Stackner Animal Encounter Building and Bird of Prey Theater opens providing daily educational presentations.

2008

The Zoo welcomes a flock of Caribbean flamingos, which take up residence in their lush Idabel Wilmot Borchert Flamingo Exhibit and Overlook. 

A new front entrance mall, The U.S. Bank Gathering Place, is unveiled featuring a light-filled atrium, café, counter-style snack bar, coffee shop, gift shop and customer service areas. This building marks the final project of the New Zoo II Capital Campaign. 

2011

New outdoor bonobo exhibit opens providing these rare great apes 500 feet of elevated mesh passageways.