Legend has it that in 189, Denver's Mayor Thomas S. McMurray received a unique gift that would mark the beginning of a Denver institution. The mayor's git, an orphaned black bear by the name of Billy Bryan, took up residence at a barnyard in City Park, providing hours of entertainment for curious park visitors.
On December 25th, 1896, the Denver Times reported an incident that not only gained Billy Bryan a measure of notoriety, but also is cited as the origin of th eDenver Zoo. To the barnyard owner's dismay, when he journeyed to his chicken coop to select a Christmas turkey, all he found was a smattering of bood, a scattering of feathers and one lone, bedraggled hen. In an adjacent barn, the irate owner and a crew of park workmen discovered the bulging culbrit relaxing in a grain bin - "the picture of peace and contentment" according to the times - after apparently enjoying his own Christmas dinner. Billy Bryan's culinary escapade consequently banished him to the north edge of City Park to what is now the heart of the Denver Zoo.