Emperor Valley Zoo History
The history of the Emperor Valley Zoo, an offspring of the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ZSTT), founded on April 23, 1947, is brief. Governor Sir Hubert Rance opened the Emperor Valley Zoo to the public on November 8, 1952. The zoo's incipient intent, according to ZSTT Ordinance 12 of 1952, was "a focus on local fauna and the introduction into the Colony of new and curious objects of the animal kingdom; and the advancement of Zoology and Animal Physiology…" (Its original purpose is almost identical to that of the Zoological Society of London Royal Charter). The zooˈs first exhibits were a modest assemblage of local animals, about 127 animals in 10 cages, acquired from private holdings and members of the Zoological Society. However, it satisfied a need for entertainment in the urbanizing City of Port of Spain and modeled zoological parks in major metropolis.
The zoo was established on state lands, initially over 6.0 acres, in a gorge, excised from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Trinidad and Tobago, which was, itself, established in 1818. The Emperor butterfly once thrived, in large numbers, at the site and was the inspiration for the name "Emperor Valley Zoo"; its image has now become the zooˈs insignia.
The zoo underwent several piecemeal physical modifications and additions to its animal collection over the decades. However, in April 2009, plans were announced and the sod was turned for the commencement of a major upgrade to the Emperor Valley Zoo, in fifteen phases; the first fourteen phases being: Phase 1: humming birds, giant river otter, turtles, flamingoes/aquatic birds, butterfly garden; Phase 2: primates, birds; Phase 3: tigers, lions; Phase 4: capybara, tapir; Phase 5: black jaguar; Phase 6: anteater, peccary, brocket deer; Phase 7: chimpanzees; Phase 8: ocelot; Phase 9: aquarium, insects, reptiles; Phase 10: offices, kitchen, maintenance; Phase 11: small animals, crocodile; Phase 12: entry, car park A, car park B; Phase 13: discovery centre, boardwalk; and Phase 14: viewing deck, gift shop, plaza.
April 2011 saw the completion and unveiling of Phase I, humming bird garden, giant river otter, turtle, flamingo/aquatic birds and butterfly garden. Notably, amongst the various other happenings, three new lions--Mufasa, Scar, and Kovu--were added to the zoo in January of 2013; two giraffes--Melman and Mandela--and two warthogs were added in December 2013; 2013 also saw work continue on the chimpanzee, mandrill, ostrich, and the Asian and African exhibits. Simba, an African lion born at the zoo in November 1994, and scion of Brutus and Nissan, themselves former icons of the zoo, died in October 2014. More recently, Rajasi, a white Bengal tiger, one of three tigers that were added in March 2014, gave birth to two cubs in January of 2015. Two zebras were added in July 2017; the male, Marty, of the pair died in October of the same year.
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