Featured Photo: Buffalo Zoo Bear Pits, Early 1920s
Founded in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo, located at 300 Parkside Ave in Buffalo, New York, is the third oldest zoo in the United States and is the second largest tourist attraction in Western New York; second only to Niagara Falls. The zoo traces its history to the mid-19th century when Jacob E. Bergtold, a Buffalo furrier, presented a pair of deer to the city of Buffalo. Five years after the deer were donated, more animals were added to the collection, and the first permanent building was erected, signifying the establishment of the Buffalo Zoological Gardens in 1875.
From this simple gift would grow the earliest origins of the Zoo, still operating on the same spot as that original 1871 Deer Paddock. A pair of bison and eight elk were added to the animal collection in 1895, and a zoo curator was hired the same year. Two years later, the bear pits, designed to look like Roman ruins, were built as the zoo we now know was beginning to take shape.