Blast from the Past Volume 1: The Bruce Zoo

Most visitors know the Bruce Museum for its unique combination of art and science exhibitions, but were you aware that the museum once had its own zoo? For over 50 years, an assortment of monkeys, parrots, snakes, and other creatures dwelt within the museum.  One popular resident was Mrs. Dale, an African Green Monkey show in the photo below with her son Bruceter, named as part of a Mother's Day write-in contest. Within our archives lie the particulars of each creature including index cards with records of vet check-ups, the menu of the day (milk-soaked bread, a half of a potato, and a small portion of raisins for breakfast), and various notices of animals that were recognized as longevity record-holders in their day.


With the changing of the times, zoos have shifted from merely displaying animals (often in sparse cages) to become more conservation-themed organization with improved enclosures that closely mimic the natural habitats of the resident animals. The zoo was wound down by 1980, as the animals were transferred to larger organizations that could provide better environments. Nonetheless, visitors can still enjoy live animals at our Marine Tank which houses a happy collection of horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, oyster toadfish, sea stars, and Lucky the lobster. Live feedings take place every Tuesday and Friday afternoon.