The History of the Roger Williams Zoo
1872 – This was a zoo that was created so park visitors could get a better look at wildlife. The initial exhibits had mostly tiny animals like anteaters, peacocks, hawks, rabbits, squirrels, white mice, guinea pigs, and raccoons.
1890 – There were a huge number of creates shown like a pair of lions, a leopard, and a tiger. They really stepped up their game. The zoo’s initial elephant also showed up at that time. They were displayed in a Menagerie Building.
1930 – There was an elephant barn built, and it housed Alice, the zoo’s most famous inhabitant.
Early 1960s – The zoo developed to include a lot more animals, but they were still exhibited throughout the park. There were bears, deer, bison, and sea lions housed throughout the zoo. There weren’t any naturalistic habitats or admission gates yet though.
1962 – A woman named Sophie Danforth founded the Rhode Island Zoological society, a nonprofit organization that still maintains and supports to this day. She was one of the zoo’s top champions. Her vision for the zoo would inspire and spawn a lot of change.
1978 – The zoo closed for major renovations.
1980 – The Zoo enjoyed a kind of rebirth when it reopened with a new nature area, its first polar bear exhibit, boardwalk, and a bison exhibit. Exhibits placed a new emphasis on enclosures for collection animals.
Early mid 1980s – Momentum continued as dozens of new exhibits were opened, and there was a restoration of the historic and beautiful buildings in the zoo.
1986 – The Zoo go accreditation from the AZA, which was the initial zoo in New England to do so.
1990s – There was a rebirth in the zoo that continued from the 1980s with the African Fishing Village, cheetah exhibit, and Australasia exhibit. Furthermore, there was a huge robotic dinosaur exhibit too.
2000-2006 – At the beginning of the 21st century, the zoo went on an aggressive master plan and strategic planning phase.
2005 – The zoo’s polar bear exhibit was ultimately converted and closed into brand new bald eagle exhibit
2007 – There was a giant anteater exhibit put in, and it was added to the Tropical America exhibit place.
2008 – There was a huge overhaul of the Fabric of Africa exhibit.
2009 – Preliminary utility work for a brand veterinary hospital, along with future exhibits.
2011 – The new John J. Palumbo Veterinary Hospital was opened.
2012 – There is going to be a new polar bear exhibit constructed.