Did you know that The Honolulu Zoo is the only zoo in the United States that originated in a King’s grant of royal lands to the people?
The area that we now as Kapiʻolani Park, was once a 300 acre parcel of land made up of old fish ponds, lagoons, and marshes. In 1876, King David Kalākaua declared the land to be available “to the people of Hawaiʻi”. The land was cleared out and in 1877 officially opened as Queen Kapiʻolani Park to honor Julia Kapiolani, Queen consort of David Kalākaua.
It was then used as a housing area for the King and Queen’s private bird collection and it wasn’t until 1914 that the City of Honolulu assumed responsibility for the park and began collecting animals from around the world.
The first park director, Ben Hollinger, began with a bear, a monkey, and an African elephant “for the children of Hawaiʻi” to view and enjoy. However, it wasn’t until 1947 under the direction of Paul Bresse that 42.5 acres of the park was designated as The Honolulu Zoo.
Nowadays, the mission of The Honolulu Zoo is to “inspire stewardship of our living world by providing meaningful experiences to our guests” and to remain a place of natural beauty and ornamental landscape for the benefit of Hawaiʻi.
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Also in Happenings
On the Sunday morning of March 18th, 1866, a powerful fast steamer, the Ajax docked into Honolulu Harbor safely after a 10-day sea voyage from San Francisco. Receiving a cheerful welcome of gliding albatross from up above and a crowd of flying-fish in front of their decks, passengers watched the green valleys and swaying palm trees gradually coming into their views. Church bells tolled in the distance.
Every year, on the first Saturday of January, February and March, those who are allured by the giant humpback whales, gather together on their outposts throughout the islands. Their serious gazes are glued on the glaring sea spanning out its full panoramic view in front of them. Their binoculars move slowly and quietly like an experienced hunter who would never disturb the animal until “the moment” comes. When the moment arrives, a white whiff arises miles away; a pack of humpbacks are here, breaching. Instead of mustering its crews with ropes and tools for attack, they muster their notebooks and pens. They are ‘hunting’ for whales with their eyes only, just counting.
Like many of you, I never get tired of seeing the multitudes of greenery in the islands. It could be the distant peaks of velvety mountain ranges from a window, ferns crouching through a pathway to the trunks of bulky trees or the constant-hula movement of tall palm trees in the air. Among the many greens composing the island scenery, what I cherish the most are those super-sized tropical leaves.