In 1962 a pair of lions statues were removed from their perch guarding the Alameda County Hall of Records since about 1875. The county board of supervisors agreed the statutes should be entrusted to Knowland State Park, where they were placed at the zoo entrance.
Thought to be Stone
“Most everyone believed they were stone or concrete underneath the paint,” Razeto said. “But tap them, and they ring…like a bell.”Oakland Tribune May 11, 1963
Old photographs indicate the lions were an integral part of the original Victorian design, including two front lion wall plaques (removed before 1930)and a dozen bearded gargoyles at the eaves.
Old Hall of Records
The Hall of Records was erected in 1875. The hall sit had been the parade ground of the Oakland Guard from 1865. Architect Henry H. Meyers designed the ornate hall complete with entrance columns, leaded glass windows, and a grand rotunda.
A south wing was added in 1900 and a north wing in 1916. It was remodeled in 1945 when the welfare and school departments moved there.
In 1957 it was determined that nothing more could be added to the building without it collapsing.
In 1964 the Old Hall of Records was demolished to make room for the new $2.5 million Probation Center.
For years the lions were greeting people as they entered the Zoo. I bet thousands of kids and adults had had a picture taken of them sitting on one the lions. I know I did. Sadly, the lions no longer greet people as they have been moved from their prominent perch to the exit area.
From the plaque:
original iron lions, which guarded the entrance to the County Hall of Records since 1880 placed here in 1963 by the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County.
Lion Statues at the Oakland Zoo – Lion Statues on Waymarking.com
- Stone Lions to Guard Zoo – Oakland Tribune May 08, 1963
- Stone Lions Really Made From Metal – Oakland Tribune May 11, 1963
- Hall of Records To Come Tumbling Down – Oakland Tribune – Oakland Tribune March 11, 1964