Cool and Fun Places to see in the Twin Cities Como Park & Zoo, Minnesota
Como Zoo Information
Hours: Como Zoo is open year round including Holidays.
Summer hours: April to September, 10 am to 6 pm.
Winter Hours: October to March, 10 am to 4 pm.
Group reservations: 651-487-8201 - 24-hour info line 651-487-8200
Map of Como Park
Como Park's History
1848 - Lake Como is named by Charles Perry, who farms a tract of
land on the shore of the lake
1856 - Henry McKenty, a real estate developer, has a dream for grand
homes and resorts around the lake, which he has renamed Lake sandy. He
changes his mind and names it Lake Como again
1868 - Henry McKenty puts up $6000 in gold to build the first Como
1872 - A plan for city parks at Como and Phalen is presented to
the city council by H.W.S. Cleveland, a famous landscape designer.
1873 - Early park supporters donate $100,000 to purchase land for
a park, and the city acquires 300 acres around Lake Como. Some people in
St. Paul think a park would be a waste of valuable land.
1878 - In the economic depression of the 1870's, St. Paul has no
money to spend on developing the park.
1890 - Frederick Nussbaumer becomes Superintendent of Parks. His
vision, know how and hard work shaped the Como Park as we know it today.
1893 - The new electric railway makes it possible for St. Paul residents
to make the 3 mile trip to Como Park in 30 minutes.
1897 - Como Zoo is founded when the City of St. Paul receives
a gift of three deer. A pasture is fenced for them in Como Park.
1902 - The animal collection at Como Zoo includes native animals
like Elk and Moose, plus Foxes and 2 Cebus Cattle. Several citizens donate
Pets to the Zoo - a parrot, a pair of Mexican Red Birds and a Monkey.
1915 - Lt. Governor Thomas Frankson donates two Buffalo to Como
Zoo. Como Park Conservatory is built. The new Conservatory provides a warm
winter home for Zoo animals.
1926 - "Peggy", an American Black Bear, is donated to Como Zoo.
A cage is built for her out of some old iron arches that had been standing
in the park.
1930 - Because spring and fall rains make the Zoo to muddy for visitors,
cement walkways are built in the Zoo and the Roads are paved.
1932 - Monkey Island (now Seal Island) is built. This is the first
of several Como Zoo buildings constructed by the WPA, including the bear
grottoes, the main Zoo Building and the Old Barn.
1934 - Como Zoo acquires a large number of exotic animals when the
Longfellow Gardens Zoo in Minneapolis closes.
1937 - Frank Buck, world famous explorer, attends the dedication
ceremony of the new Main Zoo building at Como Zoo. The Bear grottoes are
completed. The St. Paul Zoological Society buys animals for the new building.
1940 - Como Zoo has paved parking lots, a "Kiddie Zoo" and space
for rides and concessions. A "raccoon pit" is added, later changed into
a prairie dog hill.
1951 - The Mill House and water wheel are built in the Bird Yard.
1953 - "Rabbitville" is built. Later it will be expanded into the
Children's Farm Zoo.
1954 - A Northern Pacific Steam engine is moved to the grounds of
Como Zoo. The St. Paul Zoological Society disbands and donates its remaining
funds to the Zoo.
1955 - City officials recommend closing Como Zoo. A citizen volunteer
committee is formed to save the Zoo.
1956 - Archie Brand's Seal Show (Sparky the Sea Lion) comes to Como
Zoo through the efforts of Minnesota businessman Stanley S. Hubbard, Sr.
Many repairs are made at the Zoo, and new animals arrive, Ostrich, Jaguars,
Seals, Llamas, baboons and Monkeys.
1957 - John A. Fletcher becomes the first Zoo Director. The Zoo
has six employees and an annual budget of $30,000. A number of valuable
and endangered animals, such as Siberian Tigers, Gorillas and Orangutans
join the Zoo collection.
1958 - Toby, the giant Galapagos Tortoise, comes to live at Como
Zoo. Small children are allowed to ride on Toby's back. The first Siberian
Tigers to be raised successfully in captivity are born at Como Zoo.
1959 - Como Zoo's mobile Zoo visits local schools. Jerry Fearing,
of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, draws weekly features about animals at the
Zoo. "Casey" the Gorilla arrives.
Early 1960's - Talking story books describing the animals, their
origins and habitats, are installed at Como Zoo. Zoo visitors can purchase
elephant keys to operate the talking story books.
1966 - The Metropolitan Zoo report of the Citizens League decides
Como Zoo can not be expanded into a major Zoo Facility. Planning for The
Minnesota Zoo Begins.
1969 - Again, citizens rally to raise funds to save Como Zoo. The
Como Zoo Docent Association is founded by some of the same people. The
original Primate House is built where the present Primate House now stands.
Don and Donna, young lowland gorillas arrive at the Zoo.
1972 - In january, zoo keepers are forced to shoot "Whitey" the
Polar Bear, to save the life of a midnight visitor who fell into the Bear
grotto. In August, the perimeter fence around the Zoo is completed. For
the first time, the Zoo animals are safe from vandalism.
1974 - The Como Zoological Society is incorporated as a support
group for Como Zoo. Toby, the Galapagos Tortise, retires to the Honolulu
Zoo where he stills lives.
1976 - A new Master Plan for Como Zoo is presented to the State
Legislature, which approved $8.5 Million funding for the redevelopment
of the Zoo.
1980 - The first of the new buildings, The large Cat Exhibit, opens.
1982 - The New Aquatic animal building opens to the public with
new quarters for the Polar Bears and a show arena for Sparky the Sea Lion
Show. Monkey Island is rebuilt as Seal Island. Casey II, the grandson of
the original Casey, comes to Como from the Gladys Perter Zoo in Brownsville
1985 - The new primate building is ready to house Gorillas, Orangutans,
lemurs, Monkeys and Tamarins.
1986 - A large outdoor pool and waterfall are part of the new Land
Bird and Waterfowl exhibit.
1988 - The African Hoofed Stock Exhibit, housing Giraffes, Zebras,
and 2 kinds of Antelope, is the final building to be completed under the
Master Plan of the 1970's.
1994 - Don the Gorilla dies. In May Casey II jumps out of the outdoor
Gorilla Exhibit and takes a short walk before jumping back into his yard.
Como Zoo starts planning a new and better Gorilla Exhibit.
1996 - Over one million visitors come to Como Zoo, including thousands
of Children from Minnesota schools. Sparky the Sea Lion Show celebrates
its 40th Anniversary season, featuring Sparky IV.
1997 - Como Zoo celebrates its 100th Anniversary.
2000 - Como Park becomes the permanent home to the famous Cafesjian’s
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