We have so many great treasures right here in our own backyard. Members of SLA-SD and SANDALL (San Diego Area Law Librarians) took the time to explore a few on Tuesday, May 24, enjoying guided tours of the San Diego History Center (SDHC) Photo Collection, Research Library & Archives and current exhibit, The Lore Behind the Roar.
After gathering in the Atrium, we started down the stairs and into the Research Library and Archives. Curator Tara Centybear shared the work behind The Lore Behind the Roar, an exhibit exploring the 100-year history and evolution of the San Diego Zoo. Curators and staff from the SDHC worked closely with staff from San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG), combing through the SDZG Library & Archives, Photo Archives, and the Zoo and Park grounds, including the Institute for Conservation Research and Scripps and Paul Harter veterinary hospitals.
Next, Chris Travers, Director of the Photograph Collection, shared a few highlights from 2.5 million images, which is one of the largest regional photography collections in the United States. The collection dates back to the 1860’s and is well preserved.
We continued our journey back in time with a presentation by Jane Kenealy, Archivist. San Diego “firsts” in the collection include the first three volumes of the San Diego Union and the first book of recorded deeds. The Archives also houses nautical maps and other early, although less accurate, San Diego area maps and interesting ephemera, such as old Padres programs. Jane also shared a document signed by Abraham Lincoln, a news clipping book of suspicious deaths (1921-1926), Panama-California Exposition posters and several other amazing items. With over 45 million documents, it couldn’t have been easy to pick a few favorites.
We could have easily spent the rest of the afternoon in the Research Library and Archives, but instead continued upstairs to view The Lore Behind the Roar. We learned the San Diego Zoo was started by Panama-California Exposition physician Dr. Harry Wegeforth. A San Diego resident and life-long animal lover, he was inspired by the roar of a lion from the Exposition’s menagerie. “Wouldn’t it be splendid it San Diego had a zoo…I think I’ll start one,” he said to his brother. The early years were not easy, and several colorful stories unfold in the exhibit galleries.
The exhibit also takes us to the present day and conservation success stories, such as the California condor. Once reduced to a mere 22 in the wild, there are now over 400. San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) currently works in more than 35 countries across six continents. Next to the Safari Park in Escondido, SDZG’s Institute for Conservation Research is home to the Frozen Zoo®, over 10,000 living cell cultures, oocytes, sperm, and embryos representing nearly 1,000 taxa.
It was a packed afternoon and we continued our exploration of local treasures at a Balboa Park favorite, Panama 66, the outdoor restaurant at the San Diego Museum of Art. We enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the SDHC, the San Diego Zoo and spend time with our SANDALL colleagues.
As always, big thanks to Kristi Ehrig-Burgess and Greg Sorini for organizing, along with Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran from SANDALL. We thoroughly enjoyed our time and appreciate the wonderful hospitality of the SDHC staff.