Ear: Zoo

A little while ago, a gentleman left a message asking about the zoo in Shively Park. Yes, there really was a zoo. But how did it get there? And where did it go? The Astoria Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan (bit.ly/APRDplan) seemed a good place to start the quest.

First of all, the land for the main portion of Shively Park was deeded to the city of Astoria by Charles W. and Annie M. Shively in 1905, and then developed for the grand Astoria Centennial in 1911. Shively Park is pictured, courtesy of the Clatsop County Historical Society.

The master plan says the celebration included "a reconstruction of Fort Astoria, amphitheater on the Park’s south slope, exhibition halls, Native American camp, botanical garden, trails and zoo."

But, "within 20 years, many of the Centennial features were dilapidated or missing." Not the zoo, apparently, according to a 1999 Cumtux story about Shively Park by former Astoria Police Chief Charles A. "Chuck" Paetow (bit.ly/paetow).

He wrote that in the 1920s, there were still a coop full of exotic birds and fenced-in deer. One buck, he recalled, who lived 12 to 14 years, had antlers that never forked.

In 1938 or 1939, the deer became sick because of the stickers on the barley beards in the hay they were being fed. The stickers got caught in their mouths, causing infections.

Paetow was working for the local veterinarian at the time, and he had to catch the deer and hold onto them so the vet could remove the stickers. The task was completed "with torn clothes and bruises." After that, along with a change of diet, the deer "recovered and thrived."  

Around 1940, a local poacher "shot the deer and cut the fence to get them out," all on a bet, apparently. That, and other vandalism incidents, made the city decide to close the zoo. Sadly, no photos of it could be found.

"I was sad to see it go," Paetow wrote. "I don't recall exactly when it closed, either just before or during World War II. When I returned from the war in 1946, the zoo was gone."

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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