The Philadelphia Zoo is proud of its history—it was, after all, "America's first zoo." From an architectural standpoint, it had an impressive pedigree: Frank Furness designed the gatehouses, and local starchitect Robert Venturi was tapped to do the World of Primates building, which earned a Merit Award from the Philly chapter of the AIA in 1987. The Venturi building, however, has a sad legacy: a 1995 Christmas Eve fire in the primate enclosure caused the death of six gorillas, three orangutans, four gibbons and 10 lemurs—all of them endangered.
This postcard on ebay represents an era at the zoo before invoking the words "zoo" and "primate" made people feel sad—an era when the idea of dressing a chimp as a bellhop seemed completely hilarious. Now the primate enclosure is called the PECO Primate Reserve (has a nice ring to it, no?) and it's no longer a building, but two and a half acres of indoor and outdoor space where primates can wear anything they like. This postcard is a piece of Philadelphia's history—and a nice find for ephemera collectors.
· Performing Chimps at Philadelphia Zoo, $29.99 [ebay]