My Childhood Zoo

Sharing Stories

Perrilee Pizzini | Mar 27, 2017, 6 a.m.
Tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo. Brad Huff

For us, the zoo was not only a place to view

zebras, wolves, hippopotamuses and tigers,

but a playground: acres of woods to explore,

a creek to have adventures, open hillsides

to slide down all winter and tumble on in the summer.

No fences, no fees, a donation please.

We bottle-fed fauns in the spring,

watching the birth of Betsy’s 200 pound calf.

A pavilion where the community met

for potlucks several times each summer….

Parents made decisions about the community obligations and privileges.

Listening to the lion’s roar from the back porch in the early morning,

being excited to see the captured Mr. Magoo off one of the cargo ships,

riding on the miniature Missabe train,

walking through the grounds holding hands,

proud to read the “CCC Built” signs on the rock enclosures,

Not seeing the poison ivy before it was too late

as we ran through the woods, taking a short cut on our way home.

Daily, a place to go outside to play, lessons learned, and life awareness.

A baby elephant is called a calf. It weighs about 220 pounds at birth. An adult male elephant is referred to as a bull while an adult female elephant is called a cow.

The mongoose is a prohibited animal in the United States. However, an exception was made in the 1963 case of "Mr. Magoo," a mongoose brought to the Minnesota port of Duluth by a merchant seaman. When euthanizing Magoo seemed likely, a public campaign resulted in the intervention of Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Magoo lived out his days on display as the most popular attraction of the Duluth Zoo, dying of old age in 1968.

Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway (DM&IR) (reporting mark DMIR) is a railroad operating in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin that hauls iron ore and later taconite to the Great Lakes ports of Duluth and Two Harbors, MN.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal.

Perrilee Pizzini is a member of the Burien Senior Writers Workshop.

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