History

1900
Colonel F. G. Oxley of Bridgeport, Alabama donates $500 to the City of Chattanooga for the purpose of establishing a zoo in East Lake Park.
1906
Oxley Zoo opens in East Lake Park and becomes Chattanooga’s first official zoological facility. Due to City funding constraints, Oxley Zoo closes in 1911.
1907
A zoo is briefly mentioned in a newspaper article as a new attraction in Olympia Park (would later be renamed Warner Park). Despite this information, little is known about this early zoo.
1937
A permanent zoo in Warner Park is established with the construction of 4’x6’ cage for two Rhesus Monkeys.
1942
By 1942, increased animal acquisitions make the Zoo one of Chattanooga’s favorite attractions. The collection includes lions, buffalo, alligators, and bobcats. The primary objective of the Zoo in this era is entertainment.
1969
After thirty years without significant change, plans are made to shift the Zoo’s focus to a petting zoo environment. “Zooville” opens in spring 1969 featuring goats, sheep, and other domestic farm animals.
1970's
Conditions begin to rapidly deteriorate at the aging facility. On a national scale, zoos begin to shift toward natural habitat exhibits and conservation education.
1985
Public opinion is strongly voiced about the conditions that the animals are being housed in. There is a consensus that the Zoo should either be improved or closed. A support group is formed called Friends of the Zoo (FOZ) and private donations are sought to help with improvements. The zoo staff is increased, and for the first time, professionalism is stressed. There is also a movement toward attaining accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Facility renovations begin and educational programming is initiated.
1987
A new hyena enclosure is built and is one of the early accomplishments of FOZ.
1989
A comprehensive Master Plan is developed to transform the Zoo into a state-of-the-art facility encompassing all 50 acres of Warner Park. However, the scope proves to be too large for the public sector and private philanthropic community to support.
1993
A scaled-down Master Plan is developed. Recognizing the financial and physical property constraints of the Zoo, the planning committee produces a more feasible plan that shifts the facility's role toward education and logical exhibition of living species to enhance community environmental education opportunities.
1996
Jaguar exhibit opens.
1998
The Zoo receives accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for the first time. A new exhibit for Spider Monkeys is completed.
1999
White Tailed Deer and Prairie Dog exhibits open. Log Cabin Visitor’s Center opens to the public.
2000
The Zoo Master Plan undergoes a comprehensive update to expand the Zoo from 5 acres to 12 acres. Phase 1 construction begins in the fall of 2000.
2001
The $1.9 million Gombe Forest chimp exhibit opens to great acclaim. Membership and attendance triple in the months after its opening.
2002
The African Aviary and Misunderstood Marvels exhibits are completed and opened.
2003
The Zoo receives accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) again for a new five-year term. Warner Park Ranch exhibit opens, and work begins on the Himalayan Passage.
2004
Himalayan Passage, the largest indoor Red Panda facility in the country, opens in August.
2005
Cougar Express is built to house two confiscated Cougars. Friends of the Zoo celebrates 20 years of progress and growth.
2006
The second phase of Himalayan Passage is completed with new exhibits for Snow Leopards and Hanuman Langurs. A fire destroys the Zoo Education Center.
2007
Work begins on the Zoo's new entrance complex on Holtzclaw Ave. A new Education Center is built.
2008
A new $4.2 million entrance complex opens on the eastern boundary of Warner Park. Featuring a new gift shop, ticketing area, concessions pavilion, hand-carved endangered animals carousel and Gombe Forest Café. As a joint partnership between the Benwood Foundation and the Chattanooga Public Arts Initiative, solid steel chimp sculptures are placed in the front entrance pavilion. The Zoo expanded its overall property by 35% and receives AZA accreditation for a third time.
2009
The Chattanooga Zoo trades one of their female snow leopards for a male snow leopard from the Pittsburgh Zoo. A bronze sculpture installation of seven life-size chimpanzees is placed in the Zoo’s front entrance pavilion.
2010
Corcovado Jungle exhibit opens and Chattanooga is introduced to Jaguar brothers Phil and Gene.
2011
Snow Leopard parents, Czar and Kasimir, give birth to a girl cub, Renji. A snow leopard cam is installed and linked to the Chattanooga Zoo website so fans can watch the snow leopards daily.
2012
The Chattanooga Zoo celebrates its 75th Anniversary. The new Deserts and Forests of the World exhibit opens. Snow Leopard parents, Czar and Kasimir, give birth to twins, Maliha and Everest.

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