How the Zoo Grew

The spirit of a young boy who lived in Wheeling, and who died too soon, inspired this facility that is unique in scope and purpose. After the death of their oldest son, seven-year old Philip Mayer Good in 1971, the Laurance F. Good family pledged a substantial gift in his memory for the creation of a zoo at Oglebay.

Energized by the enthusiasm of the Good family, the zoo concept caught on immediately. Thousands of contributions poured in, some in the form of pennies collected by school children. Because of this interest, the original ten-acre site was changed to a thirty-two acre wooded site between Camp Russel and the Wheeling Country Club property.

In August 1972, Jay and Paul Good, brothers of Philip, presided over the ground-breaking and became the founding members of the Good Zoo Friends. It would be the first zoo in the country to be built from scratch as a natural area. By 1977 when the first phase of the zoo was completed, the Good Zoo Friends reached its goal of four thousand family memberships, and the facility opened to the public on Memorial Day weekend.

A paragraph in the Preamble to the Charter of the Good Zoo Friends sums up the meaningful relationships that existed and continue to exist between the many Philips of the world, who have lived and still live, and their families and friends:

“As happiness makes up in depth for what it lacks in length, so did the joyousness of Philip’s life mirror our own affection. The creation of a zoo where the reality of life appears a bit happier and more comprehensible is therefore a very Philip thing to do.” 


Mission Statement

To provide a self-sustaining zoological park for the public exhibition of animals and plants. The zoo will offer recreational activities appealing to a wide range of audiences and  socioeconomic backgrounds, with a focus on family activities.

To provide educational exhibits and programs to promote an awareness and appreciation for wildlife, and to instill a conservation ethic.

To exhibit, propagate and rehabilitate vanishing species.

To create a fascination in the physical sciences.

To assist the scientific community in the sharing of data, resources and ideas.

(Adopted by the Wheeling Park Commission June 12, 1996)