Santa Ana Zoo celebrated 60 years!


Families came from all over Southern California to take part in celebration of Santa Ana Zoo’s 60th birthday.

Birthday festivities all over the zoo had children and adults on a safari of imagination.

“This is our first time here today and it’s really nice,” said Ladonna Oelschlaeger. Who said she was not expecting it to be so full of animals and people.

The friends of the Santa Ana Zoo raise money for the zoo and its top mission is education. If you stop by the zoo this summer, expect to see busloads of kids.

“You see all types of students from second grade up to college,” said Richard Vye of Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo.

It wasn’t just the day’s festivities people came for this sunny California day. Mascot monkey Sazoo and President Debbie Friedman, along with little helpers, gave a narrative presentation on how the zoo came to be.

The Prentice Family lived across the street from the Santa Ana Zoo on First Street and Elk Lane. They loved monkeys; they had monkeys as pets and even drove around town with them in the car. However, they used to escape all the time and wreak havoc through the streets of Santa Ana, chasing dogs, cats and even once getting into the courthouse during a trial.

Santa Ana officials insisted the Prentices build a cage to keep the monkeys confined. When that didn’t work the family decided to donate the land to the city of Santa Anan on the condition that they keep 50 monkeys in the zoo at all times.

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As proud members of The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Santa Ana Zoo meets the high standards required to be accredited so its zookeepers can work with endangered species.

One endangered species is the Crested Capuchin. There are only 15 of these monkeys in the United States — four of them are in Santa Ana.

“This birthday is special because it coincides with one of the best events ever,” said Dale Frink, assistant manager of scheduling at the Santa Ana Zoo. “We have had two baby Silver Langurs born in the last couple of weeks, which is a very rare and threatened animal from the South East Asian palm forest.”

Santa Ana Zoo houses more than 200 animals, including anteaters and camels.

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