Not only inanimate buildings and works of art remind us of the history of the Zoo, but also some extremely old animals and plants. Obviously, most animals do not live long enough to compete with the 150-year history of the garden; even so, the oldest animal in the Zoo can boast of having witnessed, first-hand, more than one third of the entire history of the Zoo. She is Samu, the female American alligator. According to the records, she arrived at the Zoo in the 1950s and has been living here ever since. She is not only the oldest animal of the garden, but also one of the oldest known American alligators in the world.
Among the animals born in Budapest and living their whole life here, Tücsök, the ageing hippo, is the oldest. She was born in the spring of 1973 as the offspring of the hippo couple Mombasa and Nairobi and was brought from Africa in 1958. And so Tücsök has been witnessing the history of our Zoo for more than four decades.
Naturally, it is practically impossible to have living animals the same age as the Zoo. However, if we look at plants (or trees, to be precise), this is far from impossible. The oldest tree in the Zoo is a giant plane tree standing on the edge of the Japanese Garden, at the walkway next to the Great Lake. Judging by its size, it could have been standing here back in 1866, when the institution first opened its doors to the general public. Of the trees where we know the year they were planted, the huge Canadian poplar standing by the South America House is the oldest. It was planted in 1910 and is therefore well over a hundred years old.