The Brandywine Zoo’s history dates all the way back to 1883 when the Wilmington Board of Park Commissioners was created. The Wilmington Board of Park Commissioners was comprised of ten volunteer men who were responsible for planning and building the parks in Wilmington. Since they had little experience when creating a park, they looked to an expert, Frederick Law Olmstead. Olmstead had created the plans for Central Park and the Boston Commons, so he was experienced in the field of park planning. Olmstead encouraged the commissioners to purchase land that ran alongside the Brandywine River, so they did.
Although the land that would eventually become the Brandywine Zoo was set aside, no one planned to build a zoo until James H. Morgan did in 1904. Morgan negotiated that if the Wilmington Board of Park Commissioners provided the funds for building the zoo, then he would donate animals. One year later, the Wilmington Zoo, which later became the Brandywine Zoo, was created and the commissioners decided to change their name to the Wilmington Free Zoological Association.
Over the course of the next 50 years, the zoo underwent many renovations that expanded and diversified the type of animals that lived at the zoo. During that time, the zoo experienced struggles in remaining open. But, the zoo’s outlook took a turn for the better when Nancy Falasco became the zoo director. Falasco had worked at the zoo since 1978, but when she was promoted to the zoo director in 1981, she created and carried out many significant changes to the zoo. One of the biggest impacts Falasco had on the zoo was improving the level of care and habitat structures until the Brandywine Zoo became officially accredited and recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Photo: Brandywine Zoo
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