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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is known for many things, not the least of which is the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife. However, the popular attraction is also known for its iconic architecture and for the last example of a species that went extinct while housed in one of those structures.
Back in the early 1870's, Andrew Erkenbrecher hired architect James McLaughlin to design some of the first structures on the zoo grounds. Three buildings in particular: the original Monkey house, the Herbivore house and the Aviary house. Each of these staple buildings has since been renamed and have all been listed on the National Historic Register, a distinction the Zoo holds in high regard.
The original Monkey house, now home to many of the Zoo's reptiles, dates back to 1875 and is the oldest existing and still-in-use building in the country. It is currently undergoing extensive renovation.
"The Reptile House, the Elephant House and the Passenger Pigeon Memorial really typify the architecture that James McLaughlin created," said Chief Operating Officer Dave Jenike. "Maintaining these old structures is critical to the character of the institution."
While maintaining the structures is critical, maintaining history is equally important. Martha was the last living Passenger Pigeon, at one time the most common bird in North America.
"Imagine being here in Ohio and looking up in the sky and seeing a flock of birds four miles wide and twenty miles long," Jenike continued. "That was the most common bird in all of North America and within just a generation of human time, that bird was dwindled down to just one individual...Martha, that lived here and died September 1, 1914."
With the passing of Martha, the world lost a species of bird forever. Her memory lives on in the Passenger Pigeon Memorial, one several attractions that help make up the unique flavor and experience that is the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.