Photos: This is what the San Antonio Zoo looked like in the 1920s

San Antonio Zoo used to have polar bears

Chimpanzees "Buster" and "Cissy" with a newsreal camera at San Antonio Zoo. Photograph shows the chimpanzees that were named for President Franklin Roosevelt's grandchildren. "Buster" on left, is posed with movie camera as if filming "Cissy." Photo circa: February 1934. Photo courtesy UTSA Libraries Special Collections.
Chimpanzees "Buster" and "Cissy" with a newsreal camera at San Antonio Zoo. Photograph shows the chimpanzees that were named for President Franklin Roosevelt's grandchildren. "Buster" on left, is posed with movie camera as if filming "Cissy." Photo circa: February 1934. Photo courtesy UTSA Libraries Special Collections. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo started as a collection of animals in San Pedro Park in the 1800s.

In 1914 George W. Brackenridge put buffalo, elk, deer, monkeys, lions and bears on land that is now known as Brackenridge Park and deeded land to the city.

This land and collection of animals would come to be known as the San Antonio Zoo, according to the zoo’s website.

Fast forward to November 1929 when two ground-breaking exhibits opened at the zoo - the Barless Bear Terraces and the Primate Paradise.

Two photos of the Barless Bear exhibits, one of which originally housed polar bears, can be seen below.

The photograph shows visitors looking at the polar bear exhibit, one of the barless bear terraces that opened in November 1929. Photo from UTSA Libraries Special Collections. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Photograph shows landscaping and the bear terrace (upper right) that opened in November 1929. Photo from UTSA Libraries Special Collections. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)

Photos from the UTSA Libraries Special Collections also show other historical images from the San Antonio Zoo’s past, including elephants and chimpanzees.

An African elephant in a pen at the San Antonio Zoo. Circa 1927-1931. Courtesy: UTSA Libraries Special Collections. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
African elephant from San Antonio Zoo on driveway in Koehler Park. Photograph shows zoo employee on the elephant with the park playground in background. Circa 1927-1931. Photo courtesy the UTSA Libraries Special Collection. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)
Chimpanzees "Buster" and "Cissy" with a newsreel camera at San Antonio Zoo. The photograph shows the chimpanzees that were named after President Franklin Roosevelt's grandchildren. "Buster" on left, is posed with a movie camera as if filming "Cissy." Photo circa: February 1934. Photo courtesy UTSA Libraries Special Collections. (UTSA Libraries Special Collections)

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