Chattanooga Zoo turns 75: Institution celebrates monumental changes

photo Visitors to the Chattanooga Zoo approach the ticket hut.

THEN & NOWThe zoo has experienced a renaissance since the mid-'80s, when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it "Chattanooga's Animal Ghetto."Annual budget• Then: $85,000.• Now: $1.9 million.Species count• Then: About 50.• Now: 123.Staff• Then: Two full-time employees; two additional seasonal part-time.• Now: 21 full-time employees; 20 additional seasonal part-time.

When Darde Long toured the Warner Park Zoo on her first day in Aug. 21, 1985, she realized she was facing an uphill battle of fulfilling her dream of helping animals.

Hank the chimpanzee was surrounded by heavy bars in a cage so cramped he could grab a rung in either hand and rock it from side to side.