||1905; June 6, 1992
||Stoneham, Massachusetts, USA
||42°27?47?N 71°05?35?W / 42.462961°N 71.092947°WCoordinates: 42°27?47?N 71°05?35?W / 42.462961°N 71.092947°W
||26 acres (11 ha)
|No. of animals
|No. of species
||44 animal exhibits. Highlights are as follows, Yukon Creek, Treasures of the Sierra Madre, Windows to the Wild, Animal Discovery Center, Treetops & Riverbeds, Alfred Huang North American Crane Exhibit, Himalayan Highlands, Barnyard, Mexican Gray Wolves
Stone Zoo is a medium-small sized zoo of about 26 acres (11 ha) in Stoneham, Massachusetts, United States, by the Spot Pond reservoir. It is operated by Zoo New England, which also operates the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston.
Stone Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The zoo was founded in 1905 as the Middlesex Fells Zoo. It began as a small collection of local animals, but soon began to include more exotic species as well. A new attraction, the Kiddy Zoo (which was largely based on Mother Goose stories) opened in the 1950s. The zoo underwent major renovations in the 1960s under the guidance of zoo director Walter D. Stone; state-of-the-art exhibits were built, including a large free-flight aviary. Also from the renovation project, the zoo began featuring 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 in honor of Walter D. Stone, after his untimely death in 1968.
The zoo was very popular by the 1970s and 1980s. During this time, it 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 November 12, 1990, after drastic state budget cuts, the Stone Zoo was forced to shut down. Due to a public outcry, the state senate helped set up a private, non-profit corporation to manage the zoo, with the help of fund-raising, donations, etc. During this transition period the zoo lost all of its large animals (except for Major, who stayed at the zoo until his death in 2000), and the grounds were not kept properly. The zoo rapidly declined in quality, and then in attendance. Old facilities were put to new uses, such as using the giraffe house as an animal education center. The zoo reopened its gates on June 6, 1992.
In the early 2000s, Zoo New England began a fund-raising campaign to reinvigorate both the Stone Zoo and the Franklin Park Zoo. A variety of fund-raisers were carried out, and a variety of plans for improvements to the zoo were drawn up. Surveys were made of zoo visitors about the various plans, and Zoo New England has been using the results to direct their improvement and renovation plans. On September 24, 2005, Stone Zoo celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The current layout aims to make the whole grounds interesting and educational, without featuring as many large animals as a major zoo. Since 2000 a number of significant improvements have been made, such as:
- Birds of prey outdoor wild bird demonstrations (an independent contract with the World Bird Sanctuary based out of St. Louis, Missouri, running Memorial Day through Labor Day only) (c. 2005)
- Meerkats (c. 2006)
- Upgrades to the North American river otter exhibit (2008)
- A new American black bear exhibit, featuring two black bears, built on the site of the old polar bear exhibit (2008)
- An annual holiday light exhibit, ZooLights, with thousands of lights and Christmas displays (runs from Thanksgiving through Christmastime)
- A newly built open air environment for gibbons (2009), as gibbons are tree-dwellers.
- A temporary seasonal exhibit, Aussie Adventure (2013), open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- A new seasonal, but permanent, exhibit with three American Alligators opened up in the Spring of 2014.
Since this time, the grounds of the zoo have been improved; attendance is up. The Lynx exhibit was expanded. The Snow Leopard viewing area has been improved. There is also a Nature Playscape. There will soon be an MBTA bus stop added to the zoo, to make access easier by public transportation.
- In the Summer of 2016, the Animal Discovery Center was demolished and the Llama and Capybara were reconfigured.
- In August 2016, Chacoan Peccary debuted in the former Coyote exhibit. The Zoo no longer has Coyotes.
- A new entry way opened in August 2017. A new animal discovery center that has taken over the former gift shop has opened. It has exhibits featuring smaller animals of various taxa. Now that these have opened, there will be a new exhibit for caribbean flamingo adjacent to the new entry in the near future.
- The reimagined multipurpose exhibition and event facility replaces the zoos central exhibit building, Windows to the Wild. The new facility features a 200-person event space lined with live animal exhibits inside and new exterior exhibit spaces totaling over 50,000 sf. Natural light is allowed into all of the exhibit spaces with controls to vary intensity. The event space is visually suspended between exhibits and opens onto a large terrace overlooking the zoos central pond and waterfowl exhibits. The facility will also contain the zoos central commissary, holding spaces, and catering kitchen for events. The black bear exhibit is unremarkable and unchanged. The flight cages for spider and colobus monkey shall be expanded.
- Summer of 2017, a female Whooping Crane named "Sunflower" arrived from Calgary Zoo to join male Alec.
- A new, Walk-through Aviary featuring the zoos Caribbean Flamingo flock and other birds will tentatively open in May 2018. It is part of the new entry complex that opened in August 2017 and encompasses the former Llama exhibit. Visitors will have opportunities to feed and interact with the flamingos.
- Yukon Creek (opened in the early 2000s): Simulates the Canadian north woods; contains North American Porcupine, Bald Eagle, Canadian Lynx, Arctic Fox, Great Horned Owl and Reindeer
- Himalayan Highlands: Yak, Snow Leopards, Markhor, Reeves's muntjac and Black-necked crane
- Treasures of the Sierra Madre (opened in 2002): Jaguar, Chacoan peccary, Cougar, Spectacled Owl, Seba's Short-Tailed Bats, White-nose Coati, various Tarantula, Panamanian Golden Frog, Peregrine Falcon, Red-Tailed Boa, Rosy Boa, Barn Owl and Gila monster
- Windows to the Wild (opened in May 2003): Meerkats, Caribbean Flamingo, Kookaburra, Inca terns, Cotton-top tamarin, Red-rumped agouti, Prehensile-tailed porcupine, Rock hyrax, Matschie's Tree Kangaroo, Tinamou, Hyacinth Macaw.
- "Treetops & Riverbeds" North American River Otter, White-Cheeked Gibbon (ca. 2008), Colobus Monkey & Black-Handed Spider Monkey
- Alfred Huang North American Crane Exhibit (opened in 2012 featuring Sandhill Crane)
Whooping Crane (ca. 2014) Sandhill Crane, assorted waterfowl. A seasonal, American Alligator Exhibit is also featured. (ca. 2014)
- Barnyard: Sheep, Guinea Hog, Chickens, Dwarf Goats and Zebu. This section also features a playground.
- "Animal Discovery Center" (ca. 2017) Honeybee, Blanding's turtle, Leopard Gecko, Collared lizard, Vinegaroon, California king snake, Rosy boa, Panamanian golden frog, Poison dart frog, Milk snake and Tree frog.