Salisbury in Wicomico County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Evolution of the "Best Little Zoo in North America"
Our little Zoo has a very unique story. Records show that the Salisbury Zoo was established in 1954. Before our Zoo became a zoo it was a marshy area flooded by a dam that created Humphrey's pond. The City of Salisbury purchased the 168 acre property in 1926 because it contained a major source of water. The City was not only interested in the water but also wanted to make a park for the City. This property connected two sides of the community and helped make a beautiful park for the City's residents. A Salisbury Park Commission was established to oversee the park.
During the early 1950's unwanted wild animals were released into the Salisbury Municipal Park. City Public Works employees began to take care of these animals, building makeshift cages and enclosures. One of the first animals to appear was a white-tailed deer fawn which was bottle fed and cared for by City employees. Soon after a black bear was given to the park. The animal population grew and early donations from residents from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia included: skunks, raccoons, turkeys, owls, peacocks, rabbits, goats, monkeys, ocelots, dingoes and a waterfowl.
In the early 1960's, City officials realized the need to expand and provide an environment suitable for the animals. The Salisbury Zoo Commission was established in 1967 to assist with the development of the Park. Fences were extended, shelters were built and professional landscaping begun. In 1970 the first professional zoo director was hired.
In 1972 a local car dealer, Oliphant Car Dealership, donated a baby elephant called "Ollie" from Thailand. That same year the Salisbury Zoo became a member of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, now known as The Association of Zoo's and Aquariums (AZA). Two female Andean bears and one male were acquired.
In 1977 "The Friends of Salisbury Zoo" was formed to assist in fundraising. A "Volunteer Zoo Education Committee" was also formed. In the 1980's the Spider monkey, ocelot, sloth and waterfowl exhibits were built. The ESBA Education Center was built in 1995. The Zoo's gift shop was later added. In 2007 the Richard and Patricia Hazel Delmarva Trail
In 2009 the Delmarva Zoological Society was established to help fund needed improvements. The "Renew the Zoo" capital campaign began and the annual "Just Zoo It" campaign through regional schools debuted.
Today the Salisbury Zoo encompasses over 12 acres within the city park along a tributary of the Wicomico river. It has remained one of the few municipal Zoological Parks providing free admission and parking to its community.
In 1933 the Civil Works Administration employees construct what is now known as the "Holly Circle."
Zoo Keeper, Victor Volkemer bottle feeds "Ollie" the elephant. The Zoo kept "Ollie" for a very short period and transfered him to the National Zoo where more exhibit space was available for this large animal.
Andean bears were brought into the Zoo's animal collection in the late 1970's. Pictured to the left is "Alba" female Andean bear born the Zoo in 2015.
Red wolves were acquired in 2007. The Zoo participates in the Red wolf Species Survival Plan, a conservation initiative to save them from extinction.
Erected by Salisbury Zoo, City of Salisbury, Maryland.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Animals • Parks & Recreational Areas. A significant historical year for this entry is 1954.
Location. 38° 21.618′ N, 75° 34.845′ W. Marker is in Salisbury, Maryland, in Wicomico County. Marker is on South Park Drive, 0.1 miles west of Memorial Plaza, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 755 S Park Dr, Salisbury MD 21804, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wicomico Treasures (here, next to this marker); American Alligator (within shouting distance of this marker); Beaver (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); American Bison (about 600 feet away); Here We Mark the Price of Freedom (approx. ¼ mile away); Non Native Plants (approx. 0.7 miles away); Wetland Marsh (approx. 0.7 miles away); Wooded Wetland (approx. ¾ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Salisbury.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 16, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 15, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 141 times since then and 51 times this year. Last updated on January 15, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 15, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.