Dickerson Park Zoo

Dickerson Park Zoo is a wildlife park in Springfield, MO, with more than 500 animals representing 160 different species.  It has been a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1986 and is accredited by the organization.

Dickerson Park was founded by the Springfield Park Board in 1922 and developed with the assistance of Works Progress Administration (WPA) personnel and finances in the 1930s. Dickerson Park is located in Springfield, Missouri. In the decades that followed, little development or assistance was provided, and by 1975, the zoo had become dilapidated and unusable. It was on the danger of being closed, but the City of Springfield made a promise to save the zoo, and a support group known as Friends of the Zoo was formed to help them.

During this time, the Friends group built a membership base, established education programs, and solicited support from benefactors for new projects and facility improvements. For this purpose, the City of Springfield invested budget resources and implemented an entrance fee to help offset costs. The zoo’s mission included the advancement of recreation, education, conservation, and research, among other things. A master plan for a new zoo was established in 1985, and it depicted a zoo with regional themes and phases of growth.

The zoo got involved in Species Survival Plans, with Asian elephants, maned wolves, and cheetahs among the species that have benefited. Education programs were provided to the general public both in-house and through outreach. The expansion of the tourism sector contributed to an increase in attendance and provided visitors to the town with additional reasons to come to the Ozarks in the first instance. In 1996, the grand plan for the park was updated and revised, and the project was finished.

A 41-year-old female elephant named Connie (Pinky) was euthanized in October 2013 after suffering from kidney illness and losing about 1,000 pounds. She was the matriarch of the zoo’s four elephants, and she was the matriarch of the zoo. A few months after that, in October, another of the zoo’s elephants named Patience made a sudden movement that killed John Bradford, age 62, who had worked as an elephant zookeeper since 1990 and was the zoo’s head of elephant keeper. Because Patience was unable to comprehend the reason for Connie’s euthanasia, it is speculated that she may have placed the blame on the head zookeeper for her death. There will be no disciplinary action taken against Patience, according to the city, who also stated that “the animal would not be euthanized.”

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