April 3, 2020
A History of Helping
- as seen by -Julie Larsen Maher
The Wildlife Conservation Society has a history of helping in times of need.
The United States went to war on April 6, 1917. A week before war was declared, WCS’s Bronx Zoo had already made preparations. Flagpoles were installed, ceremonies that included the Boy Scouts from the Bronx were held, and speeches by the Borough President and Bronx Zoo Director William Hornaday were made.
With the approval of the Society’s executive committee, the north half of the Lion House (now Madagascar!) was turned over to the American Red Cross. An elevated platform was constructed across from the animal enclosures, and sixteen sewing machines were set up on work tables so that Red Cross workers could make bandages (above).
Over 100 years later, two parking lots at the Bronx Zoo are helping New York City and front line workers respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Bronx River parking is serving as a drive-through test site by Montefiore Medical Center for their employees, and Southern Boulevard parking is being used by New York State Department of Health/FEMA to stage and deploy 250 ambulances from around the country that were sent to New York to assist.
“It is important for us to be good citizens of New York City. We are very proud and happy to help with these efforts and provide a base for these critical operations,” says Bronx Zoo Executive Vice President Jim Breheny.
EDITOR’S NOTE: WCS was founded as the New York Zoological Society in 1895, and the flagship Bronx Zoo opened in 1899. Wild View will feature regular posts on the history of the Society’s photography and other events throughout the year.