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Walton Zoo serves as not-quite-forgotten chapter in Halifax history

According to historian Blair Beed, there are many hidden chapters of Maritime history.

“And we don’t really put plaques up enough to let people know they exist,” said Beed.

However, on Joseph Howe Drive in Halifax, there is a stone cairn that serves as a historic marker of a zoo that was here more than 150 years ago.

“Probably people drive by and see trees and don’t even know it’s there,” said Beed.

The Walton Zoo once stood at this Halifax location for roughly 20 years.

“It started in the 1840s. It closed once and reopened a while later at the same site,” said Beed.

The zoo shut down for good in 1868.

Taxidermist Andrew Downs, who also operated the Downs Zoological Gardens, owned the Walton Zoo.

At the time, it was the first zoo in North America north of Mexico.

“It was 15 years before New York even had a zoo,” said Beed. “There was even a polar bear.”

The zoo also housed a monkey, caribou, and captive eagles, plus numerous species and breeds of other animals.

“It was a half hour walk from the downtown residential area,” said Beed, who added the zoo was a popular destination and entertainment spot for local residents.

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