"It had been a wilderness fifteen months before; it was a wilderness still beyond the twenty-two islands of accomplishment linked by graveled roads and walks, but there were 843 animals of 157 species behind its five and a quarter miles of fence, and it could proclaim itself the New York Zoological Park at last. And it did, proudly, on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 8, 1899."
"It was an overcast day, with a cold northwest wind, and the speechmaking from the bunting-draped platform in front of the Bird House was mercifully short. ... at about 3:30, President Morton said: "Ladies and Gentlemen: I now take great pleasure in declaring the New York Zoological Park, and all its collections, open to the public."
"The visitors straggled out of the park before the early sunset, and no doubt the director, the staff, and the keepers were not far behind. Assistant Curator Ditmars and his keepers had worked until after midnight to get the Reptile House ready, and Hornaday's desk was piled high with unanswered correspondence for which he would be apologizing for weeks to come. Madison Grant said good-bye and announced that he was leaving the next morning on a moose-hunting expedition in the Maine woods."There's a nice, short Flash video and article here: Bronx Zoo Celebrates Milestone Birthday.