History of the Navajo Nation Zoo Includes a Cougar in a Car

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner William Sells, 6, left, and Pamela Bahe peer through glass at a groundhog during the 9th annual Zoo Fest at the Navajo Nation Zoo in Window Rock Saturday, May 7

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
William Sells, 6, left, and Pamela Bahe peer through glass at a groundhog during the 9th annual Zoo Fest at the Navajo Nation Zoo in Window Rock Saturday, May 7.

Published May 15, 2016

WINDOW ROCK – Did you know there’s a cougar buried under a tree at the Navajo Zoo? Did you know she could be seen popping her head out the window of a moving car like a Labrador in the 70s?

Guests at the 9th annual ZooFest on May 7 learned these facts and more about the history of the Navajo Nation Zoo.

Perry Shirley spoke on behalf of the Office of the President and Vice President at the event.

Shirley gave some background on the history of the zoo, but the original founder of the zoo Martin Link gave details of bringing the zoo into existence over a 15-year transition period managed by the staff of the Navajo Nation Museum in the sixties, when the museum occupied a space near the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds.

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner Visitors make their way through exhibits during the 9th annual Zoo Fest at the Navajo Nation Zoo in Window Rock.

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Visitors make their way through exhibits during the 9th annual Zoo Fest at the Navajo Nation Zoo in Window Rock.

What would eventually become the Navajo Nation Zoo had multiple animals native to the ecosystem on Navajo before it even opened. Museum staff pulling double duty to care for the animals and run the museum.

“Since then they removed the Navajo Nation Zoo from Parks and Recreation Department and the placed it under the Fish and Wildlife Department,” Shirley said.

The change put the animals in the care of zookeepers and zoologists. Head zoologist at the zoo David Mikesic introduced Link for a more in-depth history.

The first animal to come into the care of the group was an orphaned black bear, which arrived in 1962. Link said he rolled with it when the Navajo Nation Council told him the bear was his.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Navajo Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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This BBSNews article was syndicated from Native News Online, and written by Christopher S. Pineo. Read the original article here.