Dickerson Park Zoo

Dickerson Park Zoo, a Missouri zoological park, has more than 500 animals. It is home to 160 species. Since 1986, it is an accredited member of Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Springfield Park Board established Dickerson Park in 1922. It was developed with the help of Works Progress Administration (WPA), labor and funds from the 1930s. The zoo was neglected from then to the 1970s. It was close to being closed. However, the City of Springfield made a commitment and Friends of the Zoo was formed to save the zoo.

Friends was able to build a membership base, launch education programs, and gather support from donors for new projects. To offset expenses, the City of Springfield established an admission fee and committed budget dollars.

The zoo's mission was to promote recreation, education and conservation as well as research. 1985 saw the adoption of a master plan that envisioned a new zoo with geographic themes and phased construction.

The zoo was involved in Species Survival Plans. It included Asian elephants, cheetahs, and wolves. The community was offered outreach and in-house education programs. The region's tourism boom contributed to increased attendance and provided another attraction for visitors to the Ozarks.

1996 saw the completion of a revision and update to the park's master plan.

The zoo killed the matriarch, a 41 year-old female named Connie (also known as Pinky). She had been suffering from kidney disease, and had lost almost 1,000 pounds. On October 11, Patience, another elephant at the zoo, was reported to be "hesitant and submissive" after the death of its Matriarch. She then made a sudden move and killed John Bradford, 62, the head of elephants. Bradford had been with the Zoo since 1990. Patience may have blamed John Bradford, the head zookeeper, for Connie's death because he didn't understand the reasons. Patience was not subject to disciplinary action, and the city stated that "the animal will not be put down."

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