This page is in process of being created.

This is a historical feature and not for the purpose of criticizing the conditions in Tampa's early zoos or their treatment of animals.

Back in the time of these zoos, the purpose of the exhibits was mainly to confine the animal and entertain the public.  Enclosures were often just small, concrete-floor cages built with little or no regard for the animals' instinctual behavior; minimal expenditures could not provide a healthy natural habitat. Often there was no secondary barrier to keep the public at a safe distance. Neglect, unsanitary conditions, and lack of experienced, professional medical attention were typical, as well as abuse by visitors. There was seldom any effort to cater to the animals' mental/emotional well-being and performing animals were sometimes trained using negative reinforcement, such as inflicting pain.


TampaPix is by no means an authority on the subject. If you wish to learn  about zoos from experts, read Thomas French's "A Zoo Story" and visit J. D. "Doug" Porter's blog.  Porter's long career was everything from animal keeper to zoo director, and he is an excellent author.  He was superintendent at Lowry Park Zoo from May 1984 to May 1988. 

This is not to say that zookeepers were ruthless abusers and didn't care for their animals.  Many considered their animals as their pets and treated them as such. 

While working for the City of Tampa Parks Department, Porter guided the aging zoo, once identified nationally as "the worst zoo in America," through a complete renovation and achieved the institution's first AZA Accreditation.  He  also  arranged  and  organized  the  two  main  sources of funding to privatize the new zoo.

(J. D. Porter career info from LinkedIn)

This site disapproves of and detests any form of mistreatment of animals.



Albert Leo Boyd was born in Washington D.C. to local physician George Washington Francis Boyd and his wife Clara R. Esch Boyd on Aug. 20, 1898.  Albert was the youngest of seven children according to their 1900 Census in DC.   The record showed every member of the Boyd family was born in the Dist. of Columbia.  George's father was born in Ireland and his mother in Maryland.   Clara's parents were born in Germany. (These columns have been omitted.)  George and Clara had been married for 16 years and all seven of their children were living in the home. The Boyds were well off, they had a live-in nurse as well as a cook (from Ireland.)

1900 Census, Washington DC, E.D. 120, 121 2nd St. NE

At age 12 Albert served as a Congressional page boy during the administration of Woodrow Wilson.  (According to Boyd's obituary.)  Notice on his 1910 Census below, Albert was 11 years old, but would turn 12 that August.  Living in the next dwelling was Samuel Stough, a 49 year old secretary to a congressman.  It's highly probable that it is through Stough that Albert was able to work as a congressional page boy, and probably for the congressman that Mr. Stough assisted.  Notice also that Clara has only 6 living children and Mabel is missing.

1910 Census, Washington DC, 121 2nd Street NE

According to the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, County Marriage Registers, Albert married Dorothy Chappelear in Alexandria, Virginia on Dec. 12, 1916.  Albert claimed he was 23, but he was actually only 18.  Dorothy claimed she was 18, but she was actually born in 1901 and would have been around 15 years old at the time.  She was one of two daughters of Andrew Leroy Chappelear and Marian "Mamie" Sheppard Anderson Chappelear. 

1910 Census, Pct. 2, Washington DC, 1418 12th St. NW (Leroy's first initial is incorrect.)



In 1918 Albert registered for the WW1 draft in NYC.  His registration card shows he was 20 years old and worked as a clerk for the British Ministry of Shipping at 165 Broadway.  He lived at 351 W. 123rd St. with his wife, Dorothy Boyd.






Albert & Dorothy's 1920 Census seen below shows them living in Washington DC with Dorothy's divorced mother, Mary Chappelear.  Albert was 21 and working as a salesman in a drugstore.  Dorothy was 18, born in Maryland, and she and Albert had a 2 mo. old daughter, Dorothy V. Boyd.


1920 CENSUS, Washington DC, 125 4th Street, SE

It's possible the "V." should have been for Albert's wife instead of their daughter.

The Boyds (or possibly only Albert) came to Tampa in 1922 where he and Dorothy divorced in Jan. 1924.  Dorothy then went to New York City and married Nicholas De Rasmo there on May 23, 1929.  It is assumed her daughter went with her.  Their 1930 census hasn't been located, but the marriage didn't last very long.  They got a quickie divorce in Reno, Nevada on Jan. 2, 1932.

On Apr. 17, 1924, Albert Boyd married Miss Mary E. Middlebrook at Wauchula, Hardee County, Fla.  He was 26, she was 18.  Mary was born Jun. 25, 1905 and was a daughter of Levi Cohen Middlebrook, a carpenter, and his wife Nancy Jane Watson, both natives of Georgia.  Their consent for Mary's marriage is filled out on their marriage license. 
See their marriage license See Mary's parents' affidavit.


In 1925 and 1926 Albert Boyd was in the real estate business.  Even though this was just after the peak of the Florida land boom, there was still a decent fortune to be made in real estate.  Maybe not in huge land acquisitions, but in Tampa there was still a considerable influx of northerners.  These were the years that D. P. Davis developed Davis Islands.  Many bridges and civic improvements in Tampa were made in the mid 1920s.  Boyd frequently placed classified ads for sales of specific homes in and around Tampa, as well as undeveloped land in the area and as far as Plant City and south Florida.  He kept a running ad going to induce sellers to bring their listings to him.

It appears that Albert was in business on his own at first, working from his home at 1417 Frierson, but by late Sep. 1925 he had an office at 1215 Florida Ave.  In late Jan. 1926, he was teamed up with the Davis Bros. and in early Feb. 1926 he advertised for "a neat, attractive girl to stay in office.  Must be able to use typewriter."  The ad insisted she come in person and "do not phone."


In late 1928 Albert became the manager of the "Teapot Dome" Texaco service station at the corner of Ashley and Madison Streets.  Advertising on Jan. 1, 1929 "Under its new management, this service station will strive to make 1929 the biggest year..." by rendering a "high type of service."  He offered "cordial, personal contact--with skilled men giving the closest attention to carrying out your wishes."

It also appears that in the late 1920s, Albert Boyd was in the bail bonds business.  He was in the papers for various cases, some very high profile capital crimes cases, with at least one other bondsman listed-- Armando Dominguez.  In May 1929, an article appeared in the Tribune "Government Begins Action To Collect $27,650 in Bonds."  Among the dozens of bondsmen listed were Armando Dominguez of 2575 Union St. and A. L. Boyd of 1417 E. Frierson Ave., bondsmen for Jack Wallace, for $2,000, and A. L. Boyd & Armando Dominguez of Ross and Nebraska Avenues, bondsmen for Raymond Rodriguez, for $5,000.

Some time by March of 1930, Boyd gave up his lease at Teapot Dome Texaco.


Albert & Mary Boyd's 1930 Census in Tampa showed them living in a home they owned at 1417 Frierson Ave..  Albert was 31 and born in District of Columbia, Mary was 23 and born in Florida.  This census asked at what age did each person marry.  Both show they were 17, which indicates Albert first married around 1915 to 1916 (his marriage to Dorothy Chappellear.) 

Albert was proprietor of a filling station, but it may not have been Teapot Dome.  The census date was April 1, so it's possible he's already acquired another filling station. 


By 1930 Albert was a member of the Knights of Pythias and D.O.K.K -- Dramatic Order, Knights of Khorassan lodges.**  Boyd was on the entertainment committee.  It is this activity that seems to have inspired Boyd to be a "showman,"  albeit of strange and wild animals, but still, this was entertainment.

In late May of 1930, Albert was in charge of the entertainment at a "Dokies" initiation celebration in Ocala to be held June 17.  As chairman of the entertainment committee of Tampa's Apmat temple, Boyd was in charge of training a "drill team" of 44 Tampa women who were to perform at the initiation of about 50 new lodge members.  Boyd also arranged for the dancing team of Augusti and Rente, a couple that had been appearing at the Alcazar Roof Supper club in Miami.

** According to Wikipedia, The Dramatic Order of the Knights of Khorassan or Dokeys/Dokkies are a side degree of the Knights of Pythias, somewhat analogous to the Shriners in Freemasonry. The Order was founded in 1894.






In all, the show would consist of 10 vaudeville acts. The Times article of Jun. 9, 1930 said 36 girls would perform in fancy costumes in a parade, the Argentine team of Agusti and Renti would appear in French Apache dances, and about 75 candidates were to be initiated into the DOKK.  Three hundred people from Tampa were expected to attend the event.










On Aug 15, 1930, Boyd's "Dokkie" vaudeville troop performed at the municipal auditorium for the Knights of Pythias annual convention.  Mayor McKay bought the first ticket for the event.







The article which accompanied these photos consisted only of a state by state list of attendees.

Two acts here of particular interest are the man holding a snake (Pinkie Williams, a singer,) and the circus wagon which appears to contain wild animals.

Perhaps this is what gave Boyd the incentive to begin his collection of wild animals.



By Oct. 1931, the Boyds felt the impact of the Great Depression and filed for Federal voluntary bankruptcy protection.  Albert's liabilities totaled $42,200 and his assets were $30,000. 

On Feb. 6, 1932, Albert Boyd also felt the impact of a truck.  He was painfully injured when he was hit by a truck while walking along the side of State Road No.17 several miles east of Tampa.  Boyd had pulled off the road and was trying to find his way through the dense morning fog and smoke when he was struck by a Furtel Farms Company truck driven by a Seffner man.  Boyd suffered a broken leg and in mid-May, 1932, he filed suit against the Furtel Farms company for damages of $25,000.*  The article stated that a similar case such as this one had been brought to court recently and was dismissed. 

Nothing further seems to have been published about the outcome of this case (which was not unusual for the Tampa Times.) 


It's not known what the outcome was for Albert's bankruptcy, the bail bonds issue, or the outcome of his lawsuit for his injury.



In 1932 Boyd began a hobby of collecting strange and exotic wild animals in his back yard. 



In Oct. of the same year, Albert Boyd was chosen to be one of two elections clerks for the November election, along with six elections inspectors at Precinct 32, 603 E. Hillsborough Ave.


Then in Sep. 1932, we learn that Mrs. Boyd was walking with Albert at the time of the accident, and she sued Furtel Farms for "permanent injuries" she received when she dodged the truck and fell.  This comes as a surprise as no mention of her was made in the original accident articles or the first lawsuit articles.  Suing for nearly $3,000,* the jury awarded her $700* on Oct. 26, 1932.  No mention was made of Mr. Boyd's earlier lawsuit.



*$25,000 in 1932 would be like $487,325 to us today.  Mrs. Boyd's damages sought would be like $58,478.98 to us today, and her $700 award would be like $13,645 to us today.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator



Within a month after his wife was awarded $700 for her lawsuit against Furtel Farms, preparations to vacate the northeast corner of Nebraska & Hillsborough avenues for a new filling station were being made by Charles Elsinger, presumably the property owner.

In late Nov. 1932, Elsinger applied for a permit to move a house from near the corner at 5401 Nebraska Ave eastward to the back half of the lot.  It's not yet known if Boyd was involved with this property at this time.

Then trouble started two days later when the movers started chopping down trees without a permit, that were in the way,   Apparently, the trees were on city property, and someone called the police when they saw what was happening.


One tree had already been cut down before the police were called, and two more "stately oaks possibly forty years old" were still in the way.  The title of the article at right says the two men were arrested, but the story claims that Officer Waters gave them orders to stop their work.  So "arrested" seems to mean they were stopped.  The men were on trial in municipal court on Dec. 5, but the case was continued until "tomorrow after receiving a report from the city engineer."

And in the usual style of the Tampa Times, no follow up story was ever printed.  Not in 1932 or 1933.

The 1931 Sanborn map below, courtesy of the University of Fla. Library digital map collection, shows a small wood frame filling station already existed at the southeast corner in 1931.  Upcoming articles indicate this was Boyd's "Nebraska Sales" station.


Before the Aug. 1933 construction of the Sunoco at the NE corner of Nebraska & Hillsborough Ave. had started,  Boyd already owned the small station on the south side of Hillsborough Ave at the SE corner by April 1933.

There are many possible circumstances for this arrangement.  One might be that Boyd left the Teapot Dome Texaco sometime around early 1930 and bought the small station before April 1933. (See next article below.) 

Being a highly-traveled intersection by incoming tourists, business could have been pretty good (considering this was the early years of the Great Depression.)  Then wanting to expand but having no room to do so with the stores on the south side of the station, maybe he made an offer to Charles Elsinger; something to the effect of "If you move your house over, I'll make you a great offer on the Nebraska end of your property."  This is all speculation.


This Apr. 3, 1933 article lists filling stations which have been designated as tourist information centers.  Number six is "Hillsborough and Nebraska Avenues, 'Nebraska Sales,' A. L. Boyd." 
Place your cursor on the map to see the area outlined in red enlarged--proof that Boyd first operated out of the small station at the SE corner.



Just five days after the above article listing "Nebraska Sales" as a tourist info center at Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues, this Apr. 8 article describes an altercation at the service station at Nebraska and Hillsborough owned by A. L. Boyd.   A former employee of Boyd's , E. R. Sealey, showed up last night wearing dark glasses and a hat pulled over his face, and threw a bucket at Boyd.  Fearing a possible holdup, Boyd armed himself with his revolver and held Sealy until police arrived. 





The same person (name misspelled) who took out the permit to move the house at the northeast corner of Nebraska and Hillsborough avenues took out another permit in late Aug. 1933 to build a filling station there.  His name was Charles "Elsinger" not "Elebinger." 


The "finishing touch" or "tree topper" you might say, was the installation of a steel Sun Oil Co. sign in late Sep. 1933.  This leaves a little over two weeks for Boyd to get the place ready for business.


In 1933, Albert Boyd opened his spiffy, brand new Sunoco service station at the northeast corner of Hillsborough Ave. and Nebraska Ave. Assuming his 3-year anniversary celebration date is correct in a 1936 article, it opened Oct. 17, 1933.  Nothing was found in the papers concerning the station opening or being in business until Nov. 21, 1933 when an article names two men charged with breaking and entering the station on Oct. 27.  In these days, filling stations were very frequent targets of hold-ups, armed and unarmed, and burglaries.  Many involved shots being fired and employees or owners killed.

By this time, Boyd's backyard zoo had grown into a small circus and he relocated it to his service station where he had cleared space around the building. 


The Sep. 18, 1934 article below says Boyd's hobby of collecting animals and plants "began two years ago..." which would have been around Sep. 1932, but the photo of Boyd with a Gila monster in May 1931, mentions his already "fast-growing zoo."

His correct address was 1417.

According to these articles, in addition to a Gila monster, Boyd had a female African lion (named "Beauty") with a mane and tufted tail (the only one in America he said), a Honduras white-faced monkey, a Rhesus monkey, and an African green monkey, a fox, three baby wildcats, an egret, 40 alligators (one 12 feet long), squirrels, raccoons, eagles, owls and a falcon, as well as dozens of other animals.

Boyd said he caught many of the animals in Florida swamps.

Boyd promoted Beauty, a lioness, as a "bearded lady" because she had male characteristics such as a mane and tufted tail.  This is rare, but several documented instances of female lions exhibiting male characteristics can be found on the Internet.

       The photos below are from the article above.


Seminole Chief Osceola's son was going to wrestle a 12-ft. long alligator at Boyd's, and the chief was going to be there.  This gator was probably "Bozo" seen in photos below.


It took all of five minutes for Mike Osceola to pin the gator.  But it wasn't Bozo, this one was "only" an 8-ft long gator.  The reference to the "grunt-and-groaners" at Benjamin field was for the wrestling matches held there every Friday night.  Benjamin field today is the area of the former Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory, now the Jewish Community Center.

The event at Boyd's was purely a publicity stunt, as "Several hundred persons stood in the blazing sun..." The event was free and not even donations were taken.  The Tribune writer (and probably the crowd) seems like he wanted some serious bloodshed.

Boyd started collecting animals at his home several years ago, but so many people came to his home to see the animals that when he built his new filling station he made room for the big zoo and a tropical garden in the back.  At this time it was said he had more than 400 gators, including a "granddaddy of them all, believed to be several hundreds years old" and has a whole pool to himself.  The other gators are grouped by size to each pool, so no one gator could dominate the pool.

Boyd had a wildcat that was two years old and raised with his pet dog and his cat.  He claimed that the animal was as tame as either of his pets.  The wildcat was taken from its mother before his eyes were open.  An article presented later in this feature shows the wildcat did not belong to Boyd, but would be loaned to exhibit at his zoo from time to time by its owner who lived in the Hyde Park section of Tampa.  The cat was also known by two different names.

Beauty, the lion, "is friendly and the attendant goes in the cage to feed her."  But Beauty is agitated by photographers ever since one took a flash picture of her and startled her.

Boyd invited school teachers to bring their classes to the zoo and explained the habits of all the animals.

"Children from the Seminole School enjoyed a big free show last week at Boyd's Service station, Hillsborough & Nebraska Aves., where Beauty, Mr. Boyd's famous lion, and scores of other interesting animals put on a show that would thrill any children.  Beauty apparently enjoyed every moment of the party as you can see from the interested expression on her face in this picture."

"Jimmy enjoys crowds at his new home, but where was his old home? He has a weakness for peanuts and crowds. Loves crowds, doesn't like being alone.   Nothing is said here about Jimmy's past.  Maybe the articles at right have something to do with it.


Despite his weakness for peanuts and crowds, Jimmy showed a bit of strength when he didn't like being prodded from cage to cage.  Leonard Porter was seriously injured by Jimmy when he slashed at Leonard's arm, severing a main artery.  Porter was unconscious for several hours after the attack, but improved enough by the next day to possibly be discharged from the hospital.


Thousands of visitors are attracted here.



Lowell Jackson Thomas (April 6, 1892 August 29, 1981) was an American writer, actor, broadcaster, and traveler, best remembered for publicizing T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). He was also involved in promoting the Cinerama widescreen system.  In 1954, he led a group of New York City-based investors to buy majority control of Hudson Valley Broadcasting, which, in 1957, became Capital Cities Television Corporation.

Lowell Thomas, 1939
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Thomas was first heard on radio delivering talks about his travels in 1929 and 1930: for example, he spoke on the NBC Radio Network in late July 1930 about his trip to Cuba. Then, in late September 1930, he took over as the host of the Sunday evening Literary Digest program, replacing the previous host, Floyd Gibbons. On this program, he told stories of his travels. The show was fifteen-minutes long, and heard on the NBC Network. Thomas soon changed the focus of the program from his own travels to interesting stories about other people, and by early October 1930, he was also including more news stories. It was that point that the program, which was now on six days a week, moved to the CBS Radio network.  

After two years, he switched back to the NBC Radio network but returned to CBS in 1947. He was not an employee of either NBC or CBS, contrary to today's practices, but was employed by the broadcast's sponsor Sunoco.       Lowell Thomas info from Wikipedia



The young "Mexican tiger" (which was actually an ocelot) recently given to Mayor Chancey went on an exhibition tour on Feb. 19, 1935 while a place was being selected for his permanent residence.  The first stop was Boyd's.  By Feb. 21, Plant Park had been chosen for his home, according to a Tribune article, Boyd's was to be the cat's temporary home.

Delays in building a cage for him caused a late move-in date of Apr. 17.  Ultimately, it was named "Bob," probably for the mayor, Robert E. Lee Chancey, or for "bobcat."





From Sat., Mar 2 through Mon. Mar. 4, the county Humane Society held a fund raiser at Boyd's.  Ten cents*  was charged to enter, and all proceeds were to go to the organization.  Boyd's lioness, "Beauty," was top billing as "the bearded lady of the lion family." She was taken from Africa to the Bronx zoo when only a cub, where she was classified as a "he" but it was later discovered that it was a "she." 

Described as "the strangest collection of animals in this part of the country," Boyd's zoo was home for 66 animals and birds of "a score of different species."  The monkey collection included an African green monkey, a Honduras white-faced monkey, a Rhesus monkey, and several other kinds.  Boyd's collection also consisted of alligators, ring -necked doves, owls, pheasants, and a number of other animals.

*Ten cents in 1935 was like $1.95 to us today.

T. S. Newton, director of the Humane Society, would be in charge of the show, and an orchestra would play live at the zoo on Sunday afternoon.


Below, the Tampa Tribune's article on the same day featured a photo of Boyd holding a wildcat, attorney Peter O. Knight, president of the society, Mayor Robert E. Lee Chancey, first VP of the society, and T.S. Newton, director of the society, holding a wildcat.  This article makes it appear that it was Boyd who discovered that Beauty was a lioness.  It also mentions an egret and eagles at the zoo.








Albert Leo Boyd, Jr. was born at Cook's Hospital on Apr. 23, 1935.  He weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz.  Albert planned to teach him to become a wild animal trainer when he was old enough.






No, that's not her name and age.

"Miss Willys 77" was a publicity gimmick to promote the new car, the 1935 Willys 77, and boost sales at local businesses by way of local appearances and a contest with many prizes.

She and her sidekick trainer, Bruce Nolan, were "physical culturists."  Their shtick was to go around town showing how physically fit they were by performing calisthenics on a platform on the back of a truck.  Miss Willys, whose real name was Katherine Miller, arrived in town amid great mystery, announcing that she was in training to set a new world's record, but wouldn't yet say at what sport.  Thousands "thronged the sidewalks" to see her everywhere she went. 

What better clothes to wear to a zoo than clothes from WOLF Bros?



Miss Willys arrived in Tampa on Jul. 9, 1935, amid great mystery and attention.  She was greeted by Mayor Chancey at the airport along with a welcoming committee of businessmen.  All she would say about her intentions was that she was going to perform an athletic feat requiring strenuous physical training, nerve, skill and stamina.  To prove that women were equal to men, she was going to attempt the most "hazardous stunts ever attempted by any other woman" in attempting to set a new world's record which was to be announced at a later date.  In the meantime, she and her physical instructor/coach made appearances at numerous businesses in Tampa. Her training diet consisted mainly of bread and beer, or so she claimed. (Surprising that the cigar industry didn't convince her select Hav-A-Tampa cigars as part of her training diet.)  There was one more column to this article below that was all the other places they would be performing around town.

Finally it was announced that her goal was to set a new world's record for women in non-stop driving. (To prove "women are equal to men in the field of sports and athletics, especially where nerve, skill and physical stamina are concerned.")

So much for non-stop driving in handcuffs.  

This generated huge publicity, as well as the prizes for those who came the closest to guessing how many miles she drove.

Nothing like driving 71 hours without rest or sleep while drinking beer and eating bread.

See the rest of this ad which shows all her sponsors and the various prizes.
Each sponsor had their own prize and their own entry form to fill out and turn in at their business.

There were only three ads for the 1935 Willys 77 in the Tampa newspapers, they looked like this one:

Miss Willys 77 and the contest got all the press.


Freckles was famous for appearances in movies, his intellect, and physical stunts.  He  was planned to demonstrate "Namello, World Famous Auto Polish"  at Boyd's.  (It's so easy, a chimp can do it.)


Freckles was in Tampa making theater performances in the summer of 1934.


In early 1936 Freckles was back in town for more theater shows.  The Seminole Theater had Freckles "IN PERSON!"  But is that possible for a chimp?


Boyd put Freckles to work.  The last week of January would have been the date of the R&F photos.
Robertson & Fresh photo courtesy of USF Library Digital Collections



How many cigars does it take to ignite gas fumes?  Boyd gets gets dangerously close while an executive from Sunoco stands back.




Boyd acquired Buddy, a little Canadian black bear, "several months ago" when he was left there by Royal American Shows while they went up north.  His thick fur is described as an asset which came in handy up in Canada, but in a climate such as Tampa, not so much.  "But he was ill at times, and despite medicine and the best kind of treatment..."  Some thought it was the heat, others thought it was his "constitution."  No article was found regarding the circumstances of his acquisition.

A lion, alligator, baboon, wild cat and squirrels are mentioned.


Okay, so this wasn't a zoo exhibit, but this was great publicity for Boyd.  So much so that he had Robertson & Fresh photography come out and take pictures of the haul.


Robertson & Fresh photo courtesy of the University of S. Fla. Library digital collections

Albert Boyd (the one with the hat.)

Ralph Phillips (on the left.)

L to R: Herman Orth, Howard Chapman, L. C. Middlebrook (Boyd's bro-in-law).


Aug. 15, 1936 - The Tribune touted the success of the humane society's campaign to match homeless dogs with dogless homes. Of 18 dogs,  14 were found new homes  The society started another campaign, this one to raise funds for an ambulance.  Boyd kick-started the drive by donating $25.*


*In 1934, the country was in the midst of the great depression, and $25 in 1936 would have been like $477 to us today.  (U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics - CPI Inflation Calculator)


This article below is the source of establishing Boyd's opening date.

Boyd threw a big, free party on Oct. 17, 1936 to celebrate the station's 3rd anniversary.  He wanted all Tampans to visit and bring their children.   There would be souvenirs for them, Beechnut gum, Tom's peanuts and Harry's cookies, all free.  Boyd's zoo had become a Tampa institution by this time, developed in 3 years.  It gained so much attention in his backyard that he moved it to the new modern station in 1933.  It was constantly being enlarged, and at this point had Beauty the lion, Jimmy the baboon, plus a dozen other members of the monkey tribe, Bozo, the 12-foot long granddaddy alligator and several hundred of his descendants ranging from 6 inches to 8 feet long.  There was a Gila monster, a beautiful egret with gorgeous plumes; Buddy the spider monkey, Sam the white albino raccoon, and many species of birds including an eagle and an owl.  A nocturnal "Mexican night monkey" sleeps all day and roams all night.  The giant Rhesus monkey was of the largest of his kind in captivity.  There were also rare tropical plants and shrubs, an attractive rock garden with a large goldfish pool.  The article ends with a description of his auto service station amenities.


Another "exhibit" at Boyd's in 1936--Bozo, the 12-ft. long alligator.
Robertson & Fresh Photo courtesy of the USF Library Digital Collections.



Just three months after Boyd's big 3-year celebration, in mid-Dec. 1936, Beauty was euthanized using ether and chloroform because she had been seriously ill for several days.  The illness was thought to be the long-term effects of an intentional poisoning from a year earlier.  At that time, it was thought that she had fully recovered.  But a month ago, she began showing signs of illness again which worsened.

"Beauty was captured in Africa as a cub 20 years ago (1916) and raised in the Bronx zoo in NYC.  A number of years ago it was sent to Kissimmee, and a few years later was moved to Boyd's zoo here."

Nothing could be found regarding Beauty being sick or poisoned in 1935 or 1934.  There are articles and ads that mention her being at the zoo, but no mention of an illness.  Also, nothing concerning her life before she came to Boyd's could be located.


Within a few weeks, Boyd had another African lion.  Caesar was 18 months old and unusually large for his age.  He was in excellent health, and "promises to live to a ripe old age."  Below, Caesar can be seen behind bars, as well as chained.  His clawing may be a sign that he's not accustomed to being behind bars.


Caesar had no mane yet, as male lions don't begin to grow one until they are around two years old when they begin to mature. MEET CLARENCE CHAMBERLIN AT BOYD'S

Clarence Duncan Chamberlin (1893 1976) was an American pioneer of aviation, being the second man to pilot a fixed-wing aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean (Jun. 5, 1927) from New York to the European mainland, while carrying the first transatlantic passenger. (Wikipedia)

1927 photo of Clarence Chamberlin shaking hands with Charles A. Lindbergh with Richard Byrd in center,
and the Spirit of Louis behind them
courtesy of Library of Congress.


A boy in Bellevue, Washington, sent Mayor Chancey 25 cents and a note asking that an alligator be sent to him.  The boy had knowledge that they were for sale on the streets of Tampa for that amount.  Albert Boyd donated the baby gator free of charge, and provided detailed instructions on how to care for it.  This was all sent to the boy along with his quarter.   Boyd got a letter from the boy on Mar. 15 saying he had built a pen for the gator and was following his instructions, and now asked for literature about Tampa's zoo and more info on how to care for and feed the gator. 


Albert Boyd and three other Tampa businessmen got birthday greetings from the Times.
Albert was 39 in 1937.

Al Boyd buying air mail stamps to send an alligator to Pres. Roosevelt.




In late Nov. 1937, Slover's pony track relocated to Boyd's.


On Dec. 29, 1937, seventy-five children from the Children's Home were treated to a program at Boyd's zoo, which included pony rides, a trip through an educational trailer, a tour of the zoo and gifts for every child.

Slover's pony track was previously located on the 4400 block of Florida Avenue.






By May 1938, Boyd's collection included the lion, a baboon, an ape, a Gila monster, more than 100 gators, over 100 chattering birds and various other beasts.  Boyd's neighbors had had enough and complained about the animal noise, especially the lion's roaring, and the unsanitary conditions.  One neighbor, A. A. Hamilton, with the backing of sixty others, filed a lawsuit claiming the lion's roar was keeping them awake at night and could be heard from half a mile away.

Assuming this is Caesar, he would have been around three years old by this time and appears to have grown quite a mane.
No article has been found indicating that Caesar was no longer at the zoo nor was replaced.


In the lawsuit, the primary plaintiff, A. A. Hamilton, claimed that as a result of sleepless nights, his health was "severely injured through the occurrence of general nervousness and loss of weight."  The suit also claimed that a possible reason for the lion's behavior was  that it "is a wild animal and unaccustomed to close solitary confinement."  The article also states that the zoo required better sanitation facilities, which were now "barely tolerable to those in the immediate proximity."  This was probably a reference to odors.


Boyd defended his zoo as highly beneficial to the city in terms of tourism, national attention and education for school children.  He said he had a lion at the zoo for five years and it didn't roar any louder now than did any of the the others at any time.  He felt the plaintiffs were singling him out because neighbors of the fair grounds (which was then located between Grand Central Ave. & Cass St. at North Blvd.) never complained about the lions roaring from the Royal American Shows where were on site for several months of every year.

Before the hearing, several lawyers joked that the lion would need to appear in court so the judge could hear him roar, but that wasn't going to happen.




A settlement was reached before the hearing with Boyd agreeing to move the zoo to a more remote location.  Boyd planned to move the zoo to Memorial Hwy near West Columbus Drive.  Today this area is part of Tampa International Airport's runways. Boyd thought the lion and the others would like it better more out in the open, and he could fix it up and enlarge the place to make it a better attraction.

But the lion isn't named Caesar, it's referred to as "Leo."  In the May 15 article about the lawsuit, the lion's name isn't mentioned, but Boyd said he's had the lion for a year, which would indicate he acquired it around May of 1937.  Caesar was acquired around Dec. of 1936 or Jan. of 1937.  No further articles could be located concerning any of Boyd's lions or his zoo, besides these presented here from the time he acquired Caesar to the time of this lawsuit.




The 14 year old "dog-faced" baboon named Jimmy died in late Nov. 1938.  An autopsy revealed he died of a "tummy ache."  It was said he had a face like a French poodle, and was brought to the states in 1927.

Baboons are NOT apes, they are monkeys.  They have a tail.  A face resembling a dog is common to all baboons.



On the evening of Nov. 26, 1939, Sidney, "the tame wildcat" from Boyd's zoo, escaped from a car he was riding in when it was involved in an accident at Albany and Swann Ave.  The article reveals that Sidney was only being exhibited at Boyd's, but Boyd did not own him.  Its owner, J. D. Waddell, was driving Sidney on a "Sunday outing" when the accident occurred.  The cat leaped from the back seat of the wrecked car, cut across a vacant lot and disappeared .  Waddell, of 1311 Swann Ave, was arrested and charged with drunken driving.  He offered a $25 reward for live return of the cat.  The article says that "The cat, which has been exhibited at Boyd's zoo at Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues, was uncaged and untied in the rear of the car.  So apparently, as of this time, Boyd had not moved his zoo.  Perhaps he changed his mind and got rid of Leo and cleaned up the place instead.  No lion by any name is ever mentioned at Boyd's in articles after the out-of-court settlement.


The next day, Sidney was found curled up in the sink of a washroom in a vacant building on S. Albany Ave.  The reward went to F.B. Cramer, Jr. and his father, who both went out on the hunt looking for him.  The details of his peaceful "capture" are revealed in this article. 

But the "wild" in wildcat was made evident in Sidney when Boyd arrived and tried to take him out of the car he was held in.  "Excitement of so many people around made the tame wildcat wild."  (Or maybe it was the sight of Boyd because he knew it mean his freedom was over.)  Boyd said "his eyes are too green, when they turn that color, it's not the best idea to mess with him."

Once Sidney cooled off, he was put in his cage, but not before swiping at his attendant and slashing his right wrist.

It was said that Sidney (a.k.a. "Bob" because of his tail) was known for going on trips with Waddell on his travels around the state and staying in hotels without bothering anyone.  But Sidney's bob tail and size have given lots of people shaky moments.

The Tampa Times covered the same event and calls Sidney by his alias: BOB.  The article reveals some details not mention in the Tribune article.  The Times' photo also features Bob's captor, so  you can see how big Bob really is compared to a man.



About four months after Sidney/Bob tasted freedom for a day, he was was dead.  The Tribune took the opportunity to sensationalize Sidney's moment in the limelight last November.  "The 50-pound cat that had Hyde Park terrorized for 12 hours before he was found..."  Nothing more is revealed about Sidney other than that he "succumbed to an undiagnosed ailment in his cage at Boyd's zoo, at Nebraska and Hillsborough avenues.  Apparently Boyd never moved his zoo to Memorial Hwy & Columbus Drive.






Albert Boyd's fondness for animals was well-known throughout Tampa, having participated in many charitable events for the Humane Society.  On Dec. 18, 1940, he put on an exhibition of trained animal acts in a tent set up at his station at Hillsborough and Nebraska Avenues.

A Californian named Dan Riley was the trainer of animals since he was nine years old; his act featured two monkeys, a chimp, three goats, 18 dogs, a mule and a bear, all trained.

There was no admission fee, but donations would be accepted and given to the Humane Society.  Boyd invited the youths at Mary Help of Christians Orphanage to attend the show on opening day.



The "Screw Pine" isn't a pine tree at all, it's a palm-like tree native to the tropics.  Often called pandanus palms, these plants are not closely related to palm trees. Pandanus trees are of cultural, health, and economic importance in the Pacific, second only to the coconut on atolls.    (Wikipedia)  See more at University of Florida IFAS Extension PANDANUS UTILIS



At the start of WWII, Boyd became active as a volunteer Navy recruiter and was given an award of merit by the Navy in early 1943.

In late Nov. 1942 over 1,200 Hillsborough High School students saw the Navy films.  The films covered many phases of Navy life in the Philippines and Hawaii before the war, Naval Air Corps training, battle maneuvers and practice, and far East Navy stations.

Showings of the films could be arranged by calling Boyd at his service station.


 In March 1943 Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff and his troupe entertained troupes for two days in Tampa.  Al Boyd arranged for Acuff to greet a group of Tampa orphans to be a guest at the Opry matinee on March 31 to meet Acuff and get his autograph.



In June 1943, Tampa attorney Luthor Cobbey, county budget board member T.N. Henderson, and Co. Commissioner Curtis Hixon announced their bid for Mayor to succeed incumbent Robert Chancey.  Albert Boyd and attorney T. B. Castiglia had discussed running.

Boyd announced his bid for mayor of Tampa on July 5, 1943.  He was strongly in favor of the development of the port of Tampa.   The article says he came to Tampa 22 years ago, which puts his arrival at 1921.  An earlier article put his arrival at 1922.  It also claims he was in the filling station business for the last 18 years, putting the start of that occupation at 1925.  Ads in the 1925 newspapers show he was in the real estate business at that time  Evidence of his filling station occupation comes with the 1929 Teapot Dome Texaco ad but it could have been earlier. 

Notice he is described as a "formerly operated a free zoo at his station at Nebraska and Hillsborough Avenues."


Thomas Henderson withdrew from the race on July 6, citing health reasons due to a recent auto accident.  "...unless I could give it my best, I would not want it." Mayor Chancey delayed announcing his candidacy, but he was the first to put up the $650 fee, which was 10% of what the mayor's salary was.  ($650 in 1943 was like $9,976 would be to us today.)

  On Aug. 7, former judge Thomas Castiglia announced he would run against Chancey for mayor...again.


On Aug. 13, Albert Boyd withdrew from the race, stating that one of the candidates had views similar to his and so thought it best to withdraw.  He didn't say who that was.  Castiglia announced on the 14th that he changed his mind as well, and withdrew.   Cobbey, Hixon and Chancey had all paid their fees.


The election was held Sep. 7, with Hixon taking 5,705 votes, Chancey with 5,088, and Cobbey 4,375.




A runoff election was held on Sep. 21 between Chancey & Hixon, which of course the papers called "the second primary" with Curtis Hixon being "nominated" for mayor by a margin of 3,200 votes.

On Jan. 14, 1944, Albert Boyd was named treasurer of the Hillsborough Co. Humane Society to succeed T. S. Newton.



Every January the Humane Society of Hillsborough County elected officers.  In 1946, Albert Boyd was chosen to succeed Peter O. Knight, and Knight became an honorary president.    Knight was also one of the directors, as well as his son, Peter O. Knight, Jr. who presided over the meeting.  Boyd, as retiring treasurer, reported the total receipts for the year and the total expenditures, the largest of which was for a steel mesh fence around the property.  The article provides the cost of being a member, as well as statistics on the animals.  It also states that the current ambulance will need to be replaced this year.

Of particular interest is that the society had two deer, Rosie Mae and Johnnie, both of which are tame and like to be petted, "especially if offered a cigarette.  They like to eat cigarettes."


The society acquired a new ambulance on Dec. 2, 1946.

In 1947, Boyd was reelected a president of the Humane Society.  Peter O. Knight is referred to as "Col."  Colonel was used in the South a title of social status, it was not a military rank.  It was a title usually afforded to older, affluent, successful and well-respected white men.  Among the new members of the board was Peter O. Knight, Jr.  The Society took in almost $1,000 more than the previous year, but spent nearly all of it.

Boyd was also a member of the board of the county Juveniles Home.


In mid-July, 1947, ten small turtles were painted with advertising for an electric supply store and turned loose on Franklin St.  The Times thought it was a novel scheme.

The Humane Society received two complaints concerning the turtles roaming Franklin St. with advertising painted on their shells.  Albert Boyd, although a former zookeeper and now president of the Humane Society, was indecisive as to whether or not a turtle was even an animal, stating, "I have not determined the status of a turtle in the animal world."  Whether or not this was factual reporting remains to be seen.  Hopefully, it wasn't.  Boyd  issued a "stern statement of disfavor on the use of turtles as advertising media.

It's not clear if the next quote of Boyd is Boyd quoting the complaint he received, or the reporter's quote of Boyd's own statement:

"As pointed out by the complaints," Mr. Boyd declared,  "The creatures--whatever they are--could cause plenty of trouble, aside from the humane aspects of the situation.  Not only could they crawl into the path of cars and get smashed, but their shells could puncture tires and cause accidents.  Besides, some driver might become startled, swerve, and cause an accident."  So was it the complainer who brought up the subject of the danger to humans, or was it Boyd?

Boyd claimed if it had a gizzard (stomach), it's an animal.  The Times reporter then proceeded to make fun of the situation and go into various classifications of animals.


Boyd was chairman of the Safety Patrol sticker sales and each year raised funds for the school boys and girls patrols trip to Silver Springs.

In April 1951, only the boys went.  Maybe the girls were going on a separate trip, or they were naughty that year.  Notice all of the club's officers were women.



Albert Boyd died at his home on Aug. 32, 1952; he was 54 years old.  His brief  obituaries do not mention the cause of his death.

The Tampa Tribune carried the same obituary, almost verbatim, but added "...civic leader for the last 30 years.  Both made the same error in saying he was president of the Humane Society for the last 10 years.  He may have been a member for 10 years, but he was president for just over 6 years.  Also, the Tribune used an older photo, the one which was used in the Jan. 11, 1947 article when he was elected president of the H.S.

Boyd was survived by his widow, Mary Boyd, son Albert L. Boyd Jr. and two sisters in Washington D.C.


Lowry Park Beginnings


The Courthouse Fountain & Sulphur Springs zoos


Plant Park Zoo


Boyd's Sunoco Zoo



Sheena the Baby Elephant & Jim Godfrey

Herman - King of the Zoo


Safety Village / Children's Museum / Kids City


Dr. Bragg's Fantasia Golf


Saving Fairyland!

Zoo        2        3        4        5