On Nov. 8, 1899 the Bronx Zoo opened as the New York Zoological Park. In 1899 there were 261 acres. New York purchased the property for a mere thousand dollars from Fordham University with the condition that the area be used for parks and no further building (for private homes, businesses, etc) of the area.
Google Books has a copy of the second addition of the Popular official guide to the New York Zoological Park ©1900 the following year of the Parks opening. Below is the preface. Here is a link to the entire guide book.
The opening of the Zoological Park marks another great step toward the education of the people of the City of New York. It will bring the beauties and wonders of living Nature within reach of hundreds and thousands who are unable to travel. Like its predecessors in this field of popular education, the Park is maintained by the City, while its collections of animals and all of its present buildings are due to the generosity of citizens of New York. "We look to the continued and increasing support of all classes of people for whose education and amusement the Park is designed, rather than for the exclusive interests of science.
Although the Park is only one-third of the way toward completion, the Zoological Society believes that visitors will welcome a popular and reliable guide to what has already been accomplished. One year ago we began active work, and after two years of planning and organization ceased to speak publicly of our plans for the future. This handbook describes and pictures only what has actually been accomplished up to the day of going to press.
We bespeak for the Director and his colleagues on the Zoological Park staff, as well as for the Architects, indulgence for such shortcomings as are inseparable from such a difficult undertaking as this, during its first year. As rapidly as possible the incomplete parts of the Park will be taken in hand and brought to a finish. It has been no trifling matter to provide plans and surveys, building materials and workmen for our twenty-two installations, proceeding simultaneously with the construction by the City of miles of walks, roads, sewers and water-lines ; to finish-Bonds and entrances, trim the forests, establish a nursery, grade and plant miles of walk - borders, and build retaining walls ; to select a staff of assistants, collect animals, write labels, disburse $170,000 in small sums, without loss or dispute, and finally, during the last few weeks to improve Lake Agassiz sufficiently to make it a full and wholesome body of water.
That all the above has actually been accomplished in one year's time, without costly mistakes, or losses on account of changes in plans, and with no friction whatever, is certainly a cause for congratulation. We have enjoyed the constant and capable co-operation of the Park Department for the Borough of the Bronx and its engineers, as well as the generous support of the Mayor and other City authorities.
Of The Zoological Society