The Journal of San Diego History
Summer 1978, Volume 24, Number 3
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor

Back to the article

Bear in cage

Page 302. Throughout the years many of the San Diego Zoo’s bears were donated by crews from Navy ships. Bear cubs that had been kept as mascots became too large or unruly to stay aboard ship and the Zoo fell heir to them.

Dr. Paul Wegeforth

Page 302. Dr. Paul Wegeforth was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1887. After receiving his M.D. degree from Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1912 he spent eighteen months working with the chief of neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School. He later returned to Baltimore to work with another surgeon until his brother Harry urged him to move to San Diego and join his practice.

Dr. Harry Wegeforth

Page 303. Dr. Harry Wegeforth maintained a successful medical practice in San Diego while he was building one of the world’s major zoos. His charisma, energy and flair for showmanship gave the San Diego Zoo much of its colorful history.

International Harvester Building

Page 303. The International Harvester Building from the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 became the first reptile house for the Zoo. It also served as the Zoo’s entrance when it moved to its present location in 1922. Many of the snakes first exhibited in the Harvester Building were collected from the Zoo grounds during construction.

Frank Stephens

Page 304. All of the Zoo’s founders devoted much time and effort toward its development. At one point Frank Stephens served as a half-time Director of the Zoo, working for no pay.

Commander Joseph Thompson

Page 305. As early as 1917, Commander Joseph Thompson spearheaded efforts to establish the infant Zoo as an educational institution. He began by delivering Saturday afternoon lectures at the Park Boulevard cages. These lectures eventually expanded to cover other natural history subjects.

Dr. Fred Baker

Page 306. Born in Ohio in 1854, Dr. Fred Baker spent his childhood developing an avid interest in natural history. He earned his M.D. degree at the University of Michigan and moved to San Diego in 1888.

Page 307. The San Diego Zoological Society’s first collection was housed in a long row of cages along Park Boulevard. Many of these animals had been rented for the 1915 Exposition from a menagerie at the Ocean Beach Wonderland.