455 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008
The idea of having a zoo in Phoenix came about in early 1961, when Robert Emery Maytag (grandson of the founder of the massive Maytag appliances monopoly), along with his friends, congregated together to discuss the possibility of opening such an attraction. They felt that the people of Arizona were lacking a zoo that was desperately needed. The project officially began on April 27, 1961, when the Arizona Zoological Society convened its first meeting.
However, less than a year later, Robert E. Maytag passed at age 38 due to pneumonia. Almost killing the progress on the zoo, his dedicated followers, under the lead of his wife, Nancy Maytag, kept the project going. His untimely death motivated the completion of the zoo in his honor, and a campaign was set out in the Phoenix area to ‘Build the Zoo in ’62!,’ as the slogan went. The campaign spread from imprints on small grocery bags to being plastered on empty storefronts, gaining media attention.
The ‘Build the Zoo in ’62!’ slogan was fulfilled on November 21, 1962, with the opening of the Maytag Zoo. To gain more support from the community, the zoo was renamed ‘Phoenix Zoo’ in 1963. Later that year, a banker by the name of Earl Bimson took leadership of the zoo, and quickly gained financial support for the zoo. Along with financial stability, the zoo received media attention (as mentioned above) that allowed it to remain popular, attracting more help and donations from the community until it was a sound and prominent attraction.
Maytag’s dream of a Phoenix zoo came true. Although it wasn’t initially smooth sailing, with the opening months of the zoo facing financial tribulation, his dedicated colleagues made sure that the zoo was maintained. With the help of the community, the zoo was able to prove itself a worthy attraction and stay afloat.