O.C. Answer Man: How long has Irvine Regional Park been home to the Orange County Zoo?

In 1919, J. A. Turner of the Santiago Hunt Club began raising red foxes in cages at the park, for hunting purposes. The 1920 pens for deer and a lethargic alligator made it a zoo. Animals added later included monkeys, birds, and Horatio the pancake-loving bear. Enclosures were scattered around the park. The zoo lost steam when the park closed during World War II. And in 1969, many animals were released during a flood. In the early 1970s, the overseers began to consolidate the enclosures into one area, and in 1984 a new zoo facility was opened, focusing primarily on native California animals. Today, two of the Orange County Zoo’s biggest stars are black bears Yo-Yo and Elinor. They “work” alternate days, a deal which—being a government-owned zoo—was probably the result of union negotiations.

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