Where Did the Monkeys Go?

We get this question often from visitors who recall the earlier days of the Bruce. It is not as strange of a question as you would think. Almost from the beginning, the Bruce Museum has maintained a collection of living animals. Originally, the Assistant Curator, Paul Griswold Howes, brought in various frogs, snakes, and aquarium animals. The monkeys were perhaps the most popular animals and included a male rhesus macaque named Joe who reached an age of 37 years, a near record for the species. There were also green monkeys that reproduced freely. In fact, the birth of the first baby green monkey brought in 500 visitors in one day just to catch a glimpse of the youngster.

 Joe, the rhesus macaque, enjoying a snack in the old Bruce Museum zoo.

Joe, the rhesus macaque, enjoying a snack in the old Bruce Museum zoo.

Over the years, the collection held sloths, kinkajous, flying squirrels, kangaroo mice, parrots, and even a northern copperhead that lived for 18 years at the museum. This “zoo” was wildly popular with our visitors, yet changing attitudes towards captive animals and changing plans for the museum led to the living collection’s disbanding by 1980. While not nearly as extensive, but just as popular, today the Bruce Museum maintains a marine aquarium with various species that live in Long Island Sound. We are proud to continue the tradition of exhibiting living specimens that engage, teach, and entertain visitors of all ages.

 Children enjoy watching the marine aquarium inhabitants being fed. Photo by Cynthia Ehlinger.

Children enjoy watching the marine aquarium inhabitants being fed. Photo by Cynthia Ehlinger.

Marine aquarium animal feedings happen every Tuesday and Friday at 2:30-2:45pm.

Tim Walsh