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|Date opened||1905; June 6, 1992|
|Location||Stoneham, Massachusetts, USA|
|Land area||26 acres (11 ha)|
|No. of animals||680|
|No. of species||72|
|Major exhibits||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:
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.
Whooping Crane (ca. 2014) Sandhill Crane, assorted waterfowl. A seasonal, American Alligator Exhibit is also featured. (ca. 2014)
There are two bathrooms, a food concessions area, and a gift shop.