2. The Central Park Zoo’s Biggest Attraction Was ‘Hattie the Elephant’

Photo from Library of Congress.

The biggest attraction of the zoo was Hattie the elephant. In an article published in 1904, The New York Times referred to her as the most intelligent elephant, even saying that she understood English. Carl Hagenback brought her over from Sri Lanka and sold her to the zoo where she played the harmonica and performed tricks. Other notable animals included Pattycake, the first gorilla successfully born in captivity in New York, Gus the polar bear who was euthanized due to an inoperable tumor, and a “tiglon” named Charles who was donated to the city in 1938. Charles was the offspring of a female African lion and a male Siberian tiger, a rarer combination than the majestic “liger” (offspring of a female tiger and male lion).