Portland Zoological Gardens
Signage and Exhibits, 1971-1979

Children Behold the Chimpanzee
Cover panel for Children Behold the chimpanzee

Portland's colony of chimpanzees--already famous for their grasp of American Sign Language and for their colorful and fast-selling paintings--are about to hit the big time once again. This time their vehicle is a traveling museum exhibit. When the chimps' paintings received national attention in 1974, the zoo began getting requests to exhibit their works. It was then that Dr. Philip Ogilvie, director of the zoo, decided that a chimp-related exhibit was a good idea, but not an exhibit limited to the paintings.

"Instead," he says, "it seemed to me that an exhibit suitable for display in museums of natural history--emphasizing captive boredom and the resulting need for enrichment--would have both a broader appeal and greater impact."

The exhibit is titled, "Children, behold the Chimpanzee," from British poet Oliver Herford. It consists of seventeen silk screened acrylic panels developed by Lucie Wisdom, former supervisor of the PZG Chimpanzee Enrichment Project. The panels were designed by Bill McCabe, graphic designer for the zoo, and fabricated in the zoo by McCabe with assistant Eric Haag.

The shows message: That the chimpanzee ia a wildlife form, one with which man has enjoyed a long association. And that through the chimpanzee, man has learned much--accurately and inaccurately--and still has much to learn.

Panel 1 (shown above) quotes British diarest Samuel Pepys in 1661: . . . "it is a great baboone, but so like a man in most things, that (though they say there is a Species of them) yet I cannot believe but that it is a monster got of a man and a she baboone. I do believe it already understands much english, and I am of the mind it might be taught to speak or make signs."

Judy Spanagle. "Portland Zoological Gardens Unveils Traveling Museum Show" PZG newsletter, Volume 4, Number 4 (May/June 1975), pp. 2 and 5


Star Patterning
Patagonian cavy behavior

Star Patterning, Zoo Sign, Patagonian Cavy

When resting cavies will usually face in different directions called "star patterning" -- so as to allow the group visual coverage of 360 &#deg; and on an alert for an approaching predator such as a jaguar. In the zoo they continue this instinctive behavior as a source of a sense of security.



The tapir can be traced back 50 million years and is related to, but older than, the horse and the rhinoceros.

Nor is it particularly related to the elephant. The tapir, a "living fossil", can be traced back 50 million years and is related to, but older than, the horse and the rhinoceros.

At one time the tapir was widespread and divided into many species. Today, there are only four. Three are found in Central and South America, one in eastern India and Malaya. This widely separated distribution is one indication that you are looking at an animal whose origins were in an ancien geological era.


Insect Zoo
Storefront display

Display door for the store front Insect Zoo


Cougar, Mountain Lion, or Puma
Felis concolor

Adult cougars can jump as high as 23 ft. from a near standstill.

Adult cougars can jump as high as 23 ft. from a near standstill.

Diet: Large mammals such as deer, elk and moose, also rodents and birds.

Range: Canada, western United States and Florida, Central America and South America.

Cougars are excellent climbers, as well as superb jumpers. They often pounce on their prey from overhanging branches and ledges. These cats are extremely adaptable and can be found in a wide variety of habitats.

They are solitary except for mating periods. Newborn cougars are heavily spotted. However most of the black spotting dissappears by the time they are six months old.


African Lion
Range from end of Ice Age to present

Diminished range of the African Lion from end of Ice Age to present

From the above chart, it can be seen that the lion's range in the wild has been greatly reduced since the end of the last ice age. They are now confined to portions of Africa -- and to zoos.


Lion Bench
Children's Sculpture Garden bench with lion heads from the Orpheum Theater


Goat Mountain
Children's Zoo


Columnar basalt rockwork
CETA project in the old tiger exhibit