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Lion Cubs at Houston Zoo (1953-54)


Sound | 1953 | 1954

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  •  Harris County Sheriff’s Department meeting 
  •  Chief Deputy Ug Williams with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department 
  •  Lion cubs 
  •  Baby buffalo 
  •  Head Zookeeper Tom Baylorof the Houston Zoo comments on the birth of the lion cubs. In 1953, Baylor helped rescue a stolen boa constrictor from a Greyhound Bus Station. 
  •  In 1954, thirty monkeys died from a tuberculosis outbreak in the zoo’s new monkey enclosure. Big-game hunter C.B. Greer called the enclosure a “death trap” and pulled one of his donated gorillas, Hugo, out of the zoo until the epidemic passed.  
  •  Trial at the Harris County Courthouse 
  •  Promotional event for the Houston Boy’s and Girl’s Zoo Fund with Mayor of Houston Roy Hofheinz 
  •  Mayor from 1953 to 1955, Hofheinz was very unpopular with the Houston City Council, particularly after he had four councilmen arrested for boycotting one of his meetings in 1954. The Council voted to impeach him in 1955, but Hofheinz refused to acknowledge the impeachment and was eventually voted out by the public. He went on to join the group that established the baseball franchise that became the Houston Astros as well as the Houston Astrodome.  
  •  Preparing the animals’ food 
  •  Tortoise transportation 
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This unedited footage from Houston’s KPRC-TV captures a variety of news segments from 1953 and 1954. While a few moments include sound, most of the clips are silent. A reporter would have provided voice-over during broadcast. A majority of the footage documents happenings at the Houston Zoo, from the birth of a litter of lion cubs to a press event for the Boy’s and Girl’s Zoo Fund with Mayor of Houston Roy Hofheinz. Other segments include a meeting of the Harris County Sheriff’s Department and a trial at the Harris County Courthouse. Special thanks to Sara Hicks, Brittany Alexis, and Anna Saathoff for their help cataloging this film.
Politician and developer Roy Hofheinz was born in Beaumont on April 10, 1912. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1934 to 1936 and as a Harris County judge from 1936 to 1944. After a brief stint in private law and business, Hofheinz returned to public life in 1952 to run for mayor of Houston. Winning the election, he ultimately served two terms from 1953 to 1955. 
Hofheinz was very unpopular with the Houston City Council. In 1954, he had four councilmen arrested for boycotting a special meeting he had called. The following year, the Council voted to impeach Hofheinz, but the Mayor refused to acknowledge the impeachment and was eventually voted out of office. 
Returning to law and business, Hofheinz and his partner, Robert Everett Smith, created the Houston Sports Association. On the promise of building a new stadium, the organization soon received a major-league franchise. Completed in 1965, the Houston Astrodome became the home of the Houston Colt .45s (now the Astros) and the Houston Oilers. To expand his empire, Hofheinz developed the AstroWorld theme park and four “Astrodomain” hotels. He also purchased Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  
Hofheinz’s business ventures began to decline in the 1970s, with the Astrodomain accumulating $38 million in debt. He died of a heart attack at his Houston home on November 22, 1982.