City dwellers flock to the newly opened Longfellow Gardens Zoo near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis to see the animals and the zoo’s colorful keeper, Robert “Fish” Jones. Dressed in his trademark Prince Albert coat and stovepipe hat, Jones is often accompanied around the park by his troupe of performing sea lions.*
“The zoo continued to prosper, although complaints from neighbors about noise and smell were perpetual. In 1930, Jones died. His family tried to keep his zoo open, but failed and the zoo had to be closed down. Many of the animals were sold or given the Como Zoo in St. Paul.” **
Why are we so inspired by zoos? Even the best of zoos are limited replications of natural habitat. What is it about looking a fellow creature in the eyes, watching the way it moves, or catching its scent that is so perpetually thrilling? Is it simply that we are afforded an audience with one of Your masterpieces?
Why is it that even observation of creative acts impact us so? We read excellent literature, and we are there in spite of a dim reading light! We see a great film, and are transfixed by the story so much that we forget our annoyance at the sticky floor. We view a majestic piece of art, and are taken in past the limitation of the frame, the space, and the white noise!
While this may be true, will You forgive our human propensities to miss the meetings You ordained for Minnesotans past, present, or future? We want to experience Your nirvana, but despise the travail of travel to observe it! It does not register what a priceless experience it is to look on a wild animal when it comes at virtually no cost!
Elohim, Strong Creator, thank You for the gift of our fellow creatures! Thank You for putting the vision for Longfellow Gardens into the heart of businessman Robert Jones! Thank You also for his passion and commitment to see it through to fruition! May this state forever cherish a chance to interact with (Your) nature…and dreamers!
*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**Benidt, Bruce Weir (1984). The Library Book. Minneapolis: Minneapolis Public Library and Information Center. ISBN 0-9613716-0-9.
*** Photo and 1907 newspaper article that encapsulates the spirit of Mr. Jones. http://circusnospin.blogspot.com/2010_11_18_archive.html