Monkey Island was the first animal exhibit constructed for the Birmingham Zoo at Lane Park. It opened on April 2, 1955 and was the brainchild of Mayor Jimmy Morgan. It was designed by Charles Snook of Charles McCauley Architects
Labor to construct the exhibit was donated by local unions and materials, such as slag for concrete aggregate, were donated by industries. The exhibit was built in a pit and made to resemble an island with rocky outcrops and was surrounded by a shallow pool of water. The interior of the structure was a heated room covered in glazed tiles that could be hosed down every evening. A six-foot tall by six-foot wide tunnel connected the room to a building north of the exhibit.
In 1999, the spider monkeys inhabiting the exhibit were moved to the zoo's primate building. The exhibit was subsequently reconfigured as a habitat for alligators and snapping turtles until 2002, at which time the alligators and turtles were moved out and a duck exhibit moved in. The ducks were moved to the zoo's general pond in 2009, just prior to demolition of the exhibit. On September 25-26, 2009, the zoo held a special event as they dismantled the exhibit and gave visitors an opportunity to purchase a piece of the rocks that made the outcrops.
- Lilliston, Lyn (April 1954) "Kickoff drive for zoo here to be held Tuesday" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- "Zoo directors get progress report on initial unit." (August 1954) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- Hogan, Ben (January 1969) "To 'Mr. Birmingham' the zoo is his trophy" The Birmingham News
- Thornton, William (September 24, 2009) "Birmingham Zoo to level Monkey Island, last original exhibit". The Birmingham News