Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Photo: A Bison at the High Park Zoo in 1908

The High Park Zoo was founded in 1893, when they started keeping deer in pens along what is now, appropriately, called Deer Pen Road. High Park was then less than 30 years old. It had originally been owned by John Howard, an architect and amateur painter, who bought it to use as a sheep farm and gave it its name. He gave the land as a gift to the city in 1876, to be used as a public park on the condition that his family would still get to live there in the house they'd built, Colborne Lodge, that the city would keep the park's name, and that no one would ever be allowed to drink achohol on the grounds.

Well, um, two of three isn't that bad.

Gradually, those original deer were joined by other animals. Like the bison in this photograph, which they think was probably taken in 1908. Today, there are llamas and peacocks and cattle and stuff. Mostly they lead pretty peaceful lives, except that once in a while someone will try to let some of them out of their pens. And, bizzarely, in 1999 someone broke into the deer enclosure and attacked three animals, slashing two of them with a machete and killing a third, taking it away, apparently, to be eaten.

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