CT's Beardsley Zoo Celebrates 100 Years with a Bash, June 25

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is 100 years old, and is holding a Birthday Bash for its Centennial Celebration on Saturday, June 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regular Zoo admission prices apply for guests, but the fun and festive day includes:  

  •        10:00 STAR 99.9  on grounds from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  •        10:30 a.m. A Live Animal Program begins the festivities at the Peacock Pavilion
  •        11 a.m. Welcome from Zoo Director Gregg Dancho and proclamations from the state, the City of Bridgeport, and Connecticut General Assembly at the Peacock Pavilion.  An original poem commemorating 100 years will be read in honor of the Zoo’s history.
  •        11:30 a.m. A Time Capsule has been prepared to be opened in 2072. Help us place the capsule in the Big Cow. Includes letters from the 2nd Grade at North Stratfield Elementary School in Fairfield.
  •        11:45 a.m. An American Sycamore tree will be planted, a long-lived hardwood tree, native to Connecticut 
  •        12:00 p.m. A Live Animal Show will be held in the Adventure Amphitheater.
  •        1:00 p.m. Eight area bakeries are joining us for a birthday cake bake-off--one will be the winner, but they'll all be delicious! STAR 99.9’s Anna Zap is our Celebrity Judge, then we’ll cut the cakes to share with Zoo guests.
  •        Guests can register to win a FREE Birthday Party at the Zoo
  •        1:00 p.m. Musical entertainment on the Peacock Pavilion stage: Lost Rebel, a four-piece classic rock band will play from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

In addition, the Zoo will host Sunday Serenades, a special Birds of Prey program called Sky Hunters every weekend through Labor Day,  and animal shows every Thursday and Friday all summer long. In September, “Glow Wild,” an evening Asian lantern experience begins and  continues through November. On October 29, the Zoo will celebrate with a Centennial Gala held at the Inn at Longshore in Westport.

Zoo History

In a world where conservation of endangered species becomes more important with every passing year, the Zoo has risen to meet the challenge of preserving wild animals and wild places for future generations. As the birthplace of endangered animals like Amur tigers, Amur leopards, golden lion tamarins and red wolves, every Zoo renovation and new habitat seeks first to make a safe and appropriate home for animals, and then to open a window to a new world for guests. With more than 350 animals, attracting nearly 300,000 guests from the state and the region, there was a time in the past when the Zoo was home to 1,000 animals, including circus retirees and unwanted pets. 

The history of the Zoo began with Phineas T. Barnum exercising his circus animals along the streets of Bridgeport in the early 1900s. Parks Commissioner Wesley Hayes began a citywide campaign in 1920 for a zoo to be founded in the park. That first year, exotic birds including macaws, toucans, pheasants, and peacocks took up residence in the 100-acre parkland, donated in 1878 by James W. Beardsley, a wealthy farmer from Monroe. 

Within a few years, the Zoo had acquired kangaroos, zebras, and a camel donated by the Barnum and Baily Circus. By 1956, the Zoo’s collection totaled more than 1,000 animals, including woodchucks, porcupines, Galapagos tortoises, and several species of monkeys. As zoos nationwide began to focus on endangered species, the Zoo reduced its collection to around 500 

animals in 1962. In 1983, the Zoo began modernization, modifying the hoof stock area and converting the former “monkey house” into a New World Rainforest Building. In 1987, the Zoo achieved professional accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a rigorous membership that focuses on animal welfare, nutrition, veterinary care, enrichment and saving endangered species through the Species Survival Program (SSP). n 1997, the Zoo’s ownership was transferred to the Connecticut Zoological Society, and became a private, non-profit organization. 

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Let your curiosity run wild! Tickets must be purchased on the Zoo’s website at beardsleyzoo.org: we recommend that guests continue to wear masks while visiting the Zoo, but when guests are outside and are able to maintain social distance, masks may be removed. In any indoor area, or when social distancing cannot be maintained, masks are required. Everyone over the age of two, except for those with medical conditions that preclude wearing them, should have a mask available. 


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