Friends from South of the Border
The San Diego Zoo has had a long and fortunate history of having friends in the military stationed all over the world who have been able to add animals to the Zoo. One such friend was Lieutenant Spencer of the U.S. Navy, who, with his family, was stationed in Nicaragua in the 1930s. He and his wife and children were animal and biological science enthusiasts, and they collected animals for the Zoo at their home in Nicaragua. They also raised and cared for them there until Lieutenant Spencer was able to sail for San Diego to bring them to the Zoo aboard his ship the U.S.S. Vega—so at various points they had their own zoo in full swing!
In 1931, Lieutenant Spencer brought an impressive array of Central and South American species for the San Diego Zoo, including armadillos, a tamandua, ibis, egrets, herons, parrots, macaws, curassows, coatimundis, kinkajous, agoutis, peccaries, ocelots, mountain lions, deer, and monkeys. Not many zoos in the 1930s could boast a variety of beautiful animals like that among their collection!