Excitement and Exploration
This was a time of optimism and transition for the U.S. and for the San Diego Zoo. Americans were showing a greater interest in faraway lands, the exotic, and the unusual, and wildlife conservation was gaining increasing attention. Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states, women’s skirts raised above the knees and men’s hair lowered below the ears, and the Beatles and Elvis made it clear that rock and roll was here to stay. The Civil Rights Movement brought about profound societal changes. At the Zoo, the staff was eager to explore new and exciting possibilities in exhibit design and the animal collection. Zoo staff members traveled to Africa, Asia, Europe, and Indonesia on collecting trips and to see how other zoos operated, and new relationships were forged with colleagues around the world. At home, breeding successes with rare and delicate species brought the Zoo awards and accolades. The Zoo was becoming more well known than ever, and over the course of the decade, leading up to the 50th anniversary, a series of innovations would transform the grounds and set the stage for even bigger changes to come.