11 thoughts on “Portland Zoo, 1962

  1. Things are thankfully not always what they appear to be…Looks like “Mel” is making a threatening statement in the elephant’s ear with a weapon in his hand.

  2. Looks to me like he is just holding his lower earlobe between his thumb and fingers, maybe massaging a little to keep him calm and still for the picture

  3. What a memory. I remember going to the dock on the Willamette River about 1954 when Rosie the elephant was off loaded in Portland. Our 1st elephant. She was housed in the old zoo in that small building that is a picnic area or playground today.
    We went every Sunday for years to feed her overripe bananas from my grandfather’s grocery store. You could feed the animals then. And there was no charge to park or enter the zoo!

  4. The Sunday Oregonian ran a front page story titled ” ‘It’s A Boy’ for Big Belle at Portland Zoo” on April 15, 1962. A large photo of mother and baby accompanies it, with the cutline: “WOBBLY BABY elephant made his first public appearance at Portland Zoo Saturday afternoon. Staying close to his mother, Belle, the baby walked into [the] observation room briefly to give zoo visitors their first look at him. At left is Belle’s owner, Morgan Berry of Seattle.” I don’t think that today’s “Mel” is Mr. Berry.

  5. Further on in the “It’s A Boy” story (page 41) the paper reports, “This is the first baby [sic] to be conceived, born and to survive in a zoo in the United States so far as the records show. It is the first case on which a complete and authentic medical record has been kept from the beginning.”

    “Morgan Berry, owner of Bell and Thonglaw, has proof that Belle’s baby was conceived July 19, 1960, in Seattle. … Saturday was the 635th day she had carried her baby…. This ends the centuries-long debate over the period of pregnancy of the Asian elephant.”

    There certainly were a number of earlier articles in the Oregonian keeping readers apprised of the impending birth, including one titled “Wing-Weary Stork Sets Approach Pattern at Zoo” (January 21, 1962, p.1), which said, “The stork, with sagging wings, hovered low over the elephant house at Portland’s zoo Sunday morning, waiting to deliver the first baby elephant born in the U.S. in 43 years.

    “Belle, the 10-year-old Indian elephant which has been laboring mightily to deliver the long-awaited infant, was in the final stages of labor at 1 a.m.” So it seems that the April 15th story was about the baby’s first public appearance, some weeks after his birth.

  6. wploulorenziprince, I always enjoy your comments that capture the backstory that you make up to bring life to the photos.
    I didn’t understand your last comment to Ann Rodgers until I took another look at the picture and saw the other man.

  7. Albert; it was up on the road going south from the Rose Test Gardens; a question Albert did your relatives own a duplex on the corner of SW 5th & Sherman and rented the South half to a family of husband, wife and 5 boys by the name of Martin.

  8. Liz C there was also a small restaurant on 34th & Division that sold Packy Burgers in honor of his birth; the restaurant may have been called the the Circus.

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