Stone Zoo is a medium- to small-sized zoo of about 26 acres in Stoneham, Massachusetts, United States. Founded in 1905, the zoo includes low-lying areas densely developed with smaller exhibits for animals as well as rocky forested hillsides devoted to larger habitats for Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs. It is operated by the Commonwealth Zoological Corporation, doing business as Zoo New England, which also operates the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.
The Stone Zoo was founded in 1905 as the Middlesex Fells Zoo, a small collection of local animals which soon began to include more exotic species. A new attraction, the Kiddy Zoo, largely based on Mother Goose stories, opened in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the zoo underwent major renovations under the guidance of zoo director Walter D. Stone, including the construction of a large free-flight aviary. The renovation project saw the inclusion of elephants, giraffes, zebras, pygmy hippopotamus, sea lions, and many other large animals. On March 14, 1969, the zoo was renamed the Walter D. Stone Memorial Zoo, following his death in 1968.
The zoo continued to operate through the 1970s and 1980s and began breeding endangered species, including orangutans, kinkajous, siamang, and kudus. A polar bear named “Major” arrived in July 1979, and soon became the zoo’s main attraction.
On September 24, 2005, Stone Zoo celebrated its 100th anniversary. The zoo layout was modified to make the grounds interesting and educational, despite the lack of large animals. Many new exhibits were created and existing ones expanded or upgraded. These improvements have been credited with increasing zoo attendance.
The major exhibits and animals on display are:
- Alfred Huang North American Crane Exhibit: Home to American alligators, barrow’s goldeneyes, hooded mergansers, sandhill cranes, tundra swans, and whooping cranes.
- Animal Discovery Center: Home to Arizona blond tarantulas, Blanding’s turtles, California king snakes, Chilean rose tarantulas, corn snakes, dyeing poison dart frogs, eastern box turtles, green and black poison dart frogs, honey bees, leopard geckos, magnificent tree frogs, Panamanian golden frogs, rosy boas, tonkin bug-eyed frogs, and vinegaroons.
- Barnyard: Home to Guinea hogs, Nigerian dwarf goats, pygmy zebus, and various chicken breeds. This section also features a ‘nature playscape’ playground.
- Caribbean Coast: A 6,000-square-foot walk-through aviary featuring blue and gold macaws, Caribbean flamingos, green winged macaws, Jamaican iguanas, scarlet ibises, and scarlet macaws. Nearby, there is a bush dog exhibit (the only one of its kind in New England) which displays a breeding pair. The pair had two pups, one male and one female born in November.
- Himalayan Highlands: Home to black-necked cranes, markhors, snow leopards, and yaks.
- Mexican Gray Wolf Exhibit: Was home to a single lone lobo named Roberto. He died in October 2019. In early 2020, the zoo now has a sibling pack of six, adolescent lobo that now roam the hillside habitat.
- Treasures of the Sierra Madre: Home to Chacoan peccarys, coatis, cougars, gila monsters, jaguars, peregrine falcons, pueblan milk snakes, red-tailed boas, ringtails[disambiguation needed], roadrunners, and Seba’s short-tailed bats.
- Treetops & Riverbeds: An open-air environment with has exhibits for black and white colobuses, North American river otters, and white-cheeked gibbons.
- Windows to the Wild: Home to barn owls, black-handed spider monkeys, cotton-top tamarins, hyacinth macaws, Inca terns, laughing kookaburras, Linne’s two-toed sloths, prehensile-tailed porcupines, red-rumped agoutis, rhinoceros hornbills, and rock hyraxes. A tortoise exhibit featuring a trio of African spurred tortoises opened in the former flamingo grotto in July 2019.
- Yukon Creek: Simulates the Canadian boreal forest; home to American black bears, Arctic foxes, bald eagles, Canada lynxes, North American porcupines, and reindeer.
- Birds of prey: Outdoor wild bird demonstrations through contract with the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis, Missouri, running Memorial Day through Labor Day
- An annual holiday light exhibit, ZooLights, with seasonal displays from Thanksgiving through Christmastime.
- Aussie Adventure (summer 2013): A temporary seasonal exhibit which showcased koalas, kookaburras, wallaby, tawny frogmouths, etc. Also included was a free-flight budgerigar aviary, similar to the one at the Franklin Park Zoo.
- Llama & capybara
- Meerkat exhibit
- Snowy owl
- Matschie’s tree kangaroo
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