George Galicz with Igor the eagle at Surrey Zoo in November 1969. Galicz and his birds of prey appeared in sports shows across North America, on television and as special attractions at many large show and events. (Photo courtesy Surrey Archives)

George Galicz with Igor the eagle at Surrey Zoo in November 1969. Galicz and his birds of prey appeared in sports shows across North America, on television and as special attractions at many large show and events. (Photo courtesy Surrey Archives)

SURREY NOW & THEN: How a zoo in Newton once attracted animal lovers

Life at Surrey Zoo recalled by the daughter of operators George and Muriel Galicz

This story launches Surrey Now & Then, a weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events, and how they evolved over the years. Email story ideas and tips to tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com.

Lorna Wallace fondly remembers random animals roaming around the Newton house and property where she grew up, even before the place was officially known as Surrey Zoo.

She lived at the corner of 132nd Street and 60th Avenue, on land purchased in 1945 by her parents, George and Muriel Galicz.

“My dad was into birds of prey, that was his passion,” recalled Wallace. “He had eagles, hawks, owls, peregrine falcons – he used to raise them, and he was always taking in these injured animals. So I grew up with robins in my bathroom and cougars in our bedroom, everything under the sun. Surrey was bush then, so my dad was kind of the resident animal curator.”

He met his match in Muriel, one of Surrey’s first licensed kennel operators and a keeper of keeshonds.

Together they officially opened Surrey Zoo in October of 1967, in a ceremony that involved Reeve Roland Harvey and declaration of the animal sanctuary as a Canadian Centennial project.

Foxes, monkeys, cougars, wolves, deer, birds and other creatures lived at the zoo for the next decade-plus, until the municipal council of 1977 opted out of a funding deal.

(Story continues below video)

Today, that corner of Newton is home to Berea Baptist Church and lots of houses, and Wallace lives in Fleetwood.

“My dad pretty much built it by himself, the fencing and all that,” Wallace noted. “He used to have a little green donation box, and then he built a ticket booth and I was often in there, making macramés and selling tickets. It was very old-school, and the kids in the neighbourhood were kind of drawn to my dad because of the animals. He put them to work with a wheelbarrow, hauling sawdust and stuff, and keeping them out of trouble. Sometimes I still run into those kids and they tell me the stories, it’s kind of neat.”

Of the animals, she remembers a Bald eagle named Igor that lived nearly 40 years.

“He (George) got it from his good friend that ran Stanley Park (zoo),” Wallace noted. “It had fallen out of its nest and a fisherman had given it to Stanley Park, and after a year it was a little feisty so he gave it to my dad. He was quite the bird.”

Sig Hupfauf, who went to school with Wallace and still lives in the neighbourhood, recalls the day the zoo began to take shape in the early 1960s.

“We thought it was the strangest thing ever for this zoo to all of sudden be in our neighbourhood,” he said.

“We used to hang out there, and for us kids it was pretty awesome because you could see all the animals. That was one of the first animal rescues around, right, so any animals that were in trouble or whatever, people dropped them off there and the Galicz’s took really good care of them. There was a lot of animals there, you name it. They were very kind people, just very caring for those animals, and it was quite a collection.”

Hupfauf said he remembers wolves sticking around the neighbourhood after the zoo was disbanded. “It was a pack of them, but they got pretty domesticated by that time.”

By 1976, close to 8,000 people visited the zoo annually, and George Galicz was in negotiations with Surrey council about keeping the zoo in operation. But the municipality turned down an offer to buy the zoo for $180,000 and renew an operating contract for $50,000. A petition to keep the zoo open fell on deaf ears.

“They asked me at the time if I would stay on and run things until the Tynehead Zoo is finished,” Galicz said in a newspaper story in 1977.

The Leader news story says Tynehead Zoo was expected to be in operation in about three or four years, and all Surrey Zoo animals would go there if the municipality bought the zoo. But the Tynehead Zoological Park never got built on 40 acres of leased land off Highway 1, and neither did an Asia Pacific Park of Nations tourist attraction pitched there in the late-1980s.

The Galicz family ended up moving to the Sullivan area in the early 1980s, and most of the zoo animals went to other sanctuaries around the province, Wallace said.

“They had many friends with similar interests, in Kamloops and places like that,” she said. “Also some of the animals remained with us, but it (the zoo) was just no longer open to public. Some simply lived out their life there. Dad always retained his love for birds of prey, and used to bring them to sports shows throughout the States and Canada.”

George Galicz died in 1999 and Muriel followed in 2010, Wallace said.

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MORE PHOTOS



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Heritagehistory

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Surrey Zoo operator George Galicz holds “Sharkey,” a hawk with a broken leg, in January 1977. (Photo: Peter Battistoni, Columbian Newspaper Collection. Image courtesy Surrey Archives)

Surrey Zoo operator George Galicz holds “Sharkey,” a hawk with a broken leg, in January 1977. (Photo: Peter Battistoni, Columbian Newspaper Collection. Image courtesy Surrey Archives)

Surrey Zoo operators Muriel and George Galicz with birds of prey, in an undated photo. (submitted photo courtesy Lorna Wallace)

Surrey Zoo operators Muriel and George Galicz with birds of prey, in an undated photo. (submitted photo courtesy Lorna Wallace)

Berea Baptist Church now stands on the corner where Surrey Zoo was located, at the corner of 132nd Street and 60th Avenue in Newton. (Google Maps photo)

Berea Baptist Church now stands on the corner where Surrey Zoo was located, at the corner of 132nd Street and 60th Avenue in Newton. (Google Maps photo)

Just Posted

The City of Surrey is currently working through the initial phase for a park that’ll be built at 72 Avenue and 191 Street in Clayton. (Image via City of Surrey)
New park to be built in Clayton Heights

City of Surrey asking for feedback from Clayton residents

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Members of the community participate in the 7th annual Coldest Night of the Year event Feb. 22, 2020. This year’s event will have a virtual aspect to it because of COVID, says organizer Courtenay van den Boogaard. (Photo Submitted: Amanda Grewall)
Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser to support Cloverdale Community Kitchen

Annual events raises funds to help homeless community

Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)
Eclectic album showcases songs recorded by Surrey residents in recovery

Project at Phoenix Society took about six months to complete, with help of music therapist

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read