Inspired by the opening of Disneyland in 1955 and Oakland’s Fairyland in 1956, the San Jose Jaycees — led by Alden Campen and former San Jose Mayor Ernie Renzel — purchased the original 7.5 acres at the north end of Kelley Park for what would become Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. The original park opened in March 1961 with several rides and attractions for kids. In 1967, a separate zoo area was created and the two sides were connected through a meadow. The entire park closed in 2008 and reopened in 2010 following an extensive, $72 million renovation. Today, Happy Hollow is the second most visited attraction in San Jose, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The zoo features more than 100 animals — including a jaguar named Sophie, a capybara, a giant anteater, red pandas and several lemurs — and also plays an important part in conservation efforts around the world.
Photos courtesy of San Jose Department of Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services.