Mary Elitch Long

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Mary Elitch Long
Mary Elitch Long.jpg
Born Mary Elizabeth Hauck
(1856-05-10)May 10, 1856
Philadelphia, PA
Died July 12, 1936(1936-07-12)
Other names Mary Elitch, The Gracious Lady of the Gardens, The Lady of the Gardens
Known for Elitch Gardens
Spouse(s) John Elitch (1850-1891)
Thomas Long ( -1920)

Mary Elitch Long (maiden name Hauck) (May 10, 1856 – July 16, 1936) was one of the original owners of Elitch Gardens in Denver, CO. She was the first woman to own and manage a zoo, that happened to be the first zoo West of Chicago. She was an author of two children's books.


Opened in 1890, Elitch Zoological Gardens offered a unique cultural experience in the west. Her first husband, John Elitch was a restaurateur that shared a dream with her for a cultural resort for the city of Denver. Bringing wild animals, flowers, plants, theatre, music, dancing, food, amusements, and families together. John Elitch made many friends in the entertainment community that he wanted to have perform on the Elitch Theatre. He unexpectedly died in 1891 before the park's second season. Mary assumed management and successfully ran the park. In 1897 she began the Elitch Garden Stock Company. In 1900 she married Thomas Long. In 1916 she was forced to sell Elitch Gardens to John Mulvihill. In the agreement the park would keep the Elitch name, Mary Elitch Long would be allowed to continue living in her bungalow on the property, earning $50 a month allowance, plus two boxes at the Elitch Theatre were always reserved for her and her friends. Thomas Long died in an automobile accident in 1920. Mary lived in the gardens until she died on July 16, 1936 at 80yrs old.[1]

"Mary Elitch with her bear cubs


  1. ^ "The Lady of the Gardens," Caroline Dier, 1936

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