One of Atlanta’s popular attractions was never meant to be permanent. In March 1889, a Marietta-bound traveling circus stalled in Atlanta when the owner declared bankruptcy.
Atlanta businessman Georgia Valentine Gress purchased the abandoned animals at an auction two weeks later and donated them to the city of Atlanta.
The Atlanta zoo opened in Grant Park in April with an impressive collection that included jaguar, hyena, black bear, camel, elk and pumas. In 1935, after complaints from his neighbors, Asa G. Candler, Jr. donated his private menagerie of elephants, leopards, water buffalo and zebra housed at his estate named Briarcliff.