Monkey Island

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Postcard view of Monkey Island
Postcard view of Monkey Island

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.

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 is a heated room covered in glazed tiles that could be hosed down every evening. A tunnel connects the room to a building north of the exhibit.

The first monkeys to be exhibited at the zoo included "Alabama", donated by dancer LaBelle Carroll, and five others donated by the Kent Animal Hospital.

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.

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