Peter’s I.Q. Zoo

IQ Zoo
Photo: Deseret News

Opened: 1961

Closed:

Manufactured By: Animal Behavior Enterprises – Hot Springs, Arkansas

Location: Mother Gooseland

When Mother Goose Land opened in 1956, it featured many different buildings and decorations depicting different stories from popular nursery rhymes. One of these was a pumpkin shell (from the story of Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater) which housed a refreshment and souvenir stand.

When I first saw the words “I.Q. Zoo” listed in the official Lagoon press kit as one of the new attractions in 1961, I had no idea what it could be. My first assumption was that it had to do with the zoo now used for the Wild Kingdom Train. But that still didn’t seem right.

I never found any other information about it until recently when I came across this photo in the 12 June 1961 edition of the Deseret News. The brief caption explained how it all worked. Kids could insert coins which activated flashing lights. The caged ducks and chickens were trained to respond to the light and were rewarded with a treat when they would “pound a drum or play baseball”.

These devices were built by Animal Behavior Enterprises (A.B.E.) in Hot Springs, Arkansas where the real I.Q. Zoo was located. Here’s a bit about the company’s beginnings as related by John Clowers, who has a special connection to the company:

“I.Q. Zoo was a real tourist attraction started back in 1955 by Dr. Keller Breland and his wife Marian. The Brelands were students of B.F. Skinner and applied his behavior modification to animals to create new training of every kind of animal. There would be no animal shows in Parrot Jungle, Marineland, Sea World, Disney or anywhere else for that matter, if these training techniques weren’t pioneered by the Brelands. Some people think that the first dolphin training was done in Florida or California, but it was done in big tanks . . . on Ridgeway Boulevard! A.B.E. received government funding back then and most of the behaviors developed were to be secretly applied in wartime with animals saving men’s lives.”

The sign in the photo shows the name “Peter’s I.Q. Zoo” which was most likely a tie-in with the nursery rhyme the pumpkin represented. I don’t have any information yet on what became of this attraction or when it closed.

One reader remembers the pumpkin shell in the center of the Kiddie Coaster track in the early 1970s (where the Hi-Land Playland was located) and that it was used to store cleaning supplies. This is unconfirmed, however. Perhaps another smaller pumpkin building could have been built for the Hi-Land Playland. If you have any memories or photos of this building , please comment below or contact me personally using this form.

Mother Goose Land, 1950s
1950s postcard showing the original uses of the pumpkin building. The old Kiddie Coaster in the background marks the current location of Puff The Little Fire Dragon.

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LINKS

Mother Gooseland

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SOURCES

Double The Fun At Lagoon, It’s Party Time. Deseret News, 12 Jun 1961.

Whirlwind Update and More. Email message to author, 20 Oct 2005.

RE: Haunted Shack Gorilla. Email message to author, 9 Mar 2011.

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An ongoing exploration of Lagoon's past