The Walter D. Stone Memorial Zoo is located in Stoneham, Massachusetts. More commonly known as the Stone Zoo, it is a popular family and school attraction year round. The Zoo is operated by Zoo New England, which also manages the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA.
Originally established in 1905 as Middlesex Fells Zoo, the park was renamed in honor of long-time zoo director Walter D. Stone in 1969. The zoo was a popular area attraction through the 1970s and 1980s, but fell into disrepair when the state of Massachusetts cut all funding to the zoo in 1990 and shut it down. The public rose up and came together to call for the Stone Zoo to remain open, and the state Senate took up the cause, helping to set up a non-profit corporation to collect donations and manage the zoo as a private entity. Unfortunately, the transition was a rocky one, and the zoo lost most of its large animals and its accreditation.
In the early years of the 2000s, Zoo New England, the non-profit corporation that runs both Stone Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo stepped up fund raising efforts with publicity and a series of high profile events to bring the zoo back to life. In a few short years, the zoo has renovated and added several new exhibits. The focus of the zoo has shifted from large exotic animals to a stellar collection of small animals in zoologically correct exhibits.
Stone Zoo features frequent special events for the community, including the very popular winter Lights at the Zoo exhibit. Members and community can also book private events like birthday parties. Stone Zoo offers classes for home schooling families, as well as personalized tours of the zoo and animal encounters. Each month also includes one or more family-friendly Wild Adventures, with animal encounters and activities geared to age group.
Families can also participate in a Snorin' Roarin' Zoo Campout Overnight, held several times a year. Sleepovers at the Stone Zoo take place at the Yukon Creek exhibit and at the Southwestern Sierra Madre exhibit.
Summer 2009 saw the opening of the Stone Zoo's latest exhibit, the Gibbon exhibit. The exhibit is 30 feet by 40 feet, and 20 feet high to give the active, friendly gibbons plenty of room for climbing and swinging through the trees. It also saw the birth of a new flamingo at the Stone Zoo on June 19th. At the time, the zoo announced that there were at least five more nests with eggs that were expected to hatch over the next few weeks, offering an exciting opportunity for visitors to watch and visit with the newborn Caribbean flamingo chicks.
The Walter D. Stone Zoo is open year round except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Summer hours at the Stone Zoo are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekends. Winter hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily. Admission is $10 for adults, with discounts for children, seniors and groups. For more information on hours, admission and events at the Stone Zoo, contact the zoo at 617-541-LION (5466).