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We are currently recruiting for Information Ambassadors at both parks as well as for help maintaining several of the Safari Park gardens.For more details on volunteering in select Safari Park gardens contact Andy at 760-738-5061.While Philadelphia claims the first zoo chartered in the United States (1859), New York's own Central Park Zoo began as an ad hoc menagerie at the same time, and while Philadelphia's zoo opened in 1874, the menagerie at Central Park was fully institutionalized long before then.
Information Ambassadors contribute 60 hours each year or more after completing a fun and thorough training checklist.The zoos feature some of the Parks Department's most artistic and notable art and sculpture, from mid-19th century bronze masterpieces to prime examples of WPA-era art from the 1930s to modern works.Although the city's zoos went through periods of decline over the years, each of the zoos was considered to be an advanced, cutting-edge institution when it debuted (though there is the notorious example of the misguided 1906 exhibit at the then-fledgling Bronx Zoo featuring Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy).A report jointly prepared by the City and the New York Zoological Society, , identified several reasons that the City was no longer the best entity to run zoos.
Severe fiscal restraints were the biggest reason; these left the facilities understaffed and poorly equipped to meet the challenges of running a zoo in an era that went far beyond merely housing an elephant in a cage.
The idea to “professionalize” these three zoos became that much more attractive during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, and by the time Gordon Davis took over as Parks Commissioner in 1978 (and was reportedly embarrassed to go near the dilapidated Central Park Zoo on his way to the Parks headquarters at Central Park's Arsenal), the operation of the city's zoos would soon be out of the Parks Department's hands.