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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