January 30, 2020
Looking Back: Jackson Hole Wildlife Park in 1948
- as seen by -Sana Masood @arkivist@wcsarchives
On July 19, 1948, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park opened in Wyoming. The Wildlife Conservation Society played an active role in the development of the over-1500 acre park that served both to preserve the natural flora and fauna of the area and to allow visitors the chance to observe wildlife.
Thanks in part to the rising conservation movement at the time, the first season of the park’s opening was a success, attracting guests both locally from Wyoming and from great distances as well. Guestbook records show that visitors from all 48 (at the time) states and several countries came to Jackson Hole that year. Even people driving past on the highway could see the park and had the opportunity to view some of its wildlife of elk (above), deer, and bison from their cars.
WCS opened a biological field station in the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park at the same time. Research done by field scientists and graduate students at the field station focused on subjects related to the management of a new wildlife park such as the reaction of large animals like elk and moose to humans. The work done at Jackson Hole then helped with the management of Grand Teton—which the park eventually became part of—and other wildlife parks. The field station also developed into the center of biological and ecological research of the Rocky Mountains providing scientists with the means to study wildlife in its natural setting. In 1953, WCS began jointly operating the station with the University of Wyoming, an arrangement that continued through 1975.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Wildlife Conservation Society is celebrating 125 years of saving wildlife and wild places in 2020. WCS was founded as the New York Zoological Society in 1895. Wild View will feature regular posts on the history of the Society’s photography and other events throughout the year.