October 12, 1909
"Who is that happy looking man?"
"That happy looking man is Gus Pearson, city comptroller."
"What makes him look so happy?"
"The park board has compromised with the contractor that put up the zoo building in Swope park, and Mr. Pearson will now find a place for the four lions he has been feeding for nearly four months at a cost of $1.57 per diem from his private purse."
When Mr. Pearson came from the rooms of the park board in the city hall last evening suffused in smiles, and as light hearted as a boy in his first pair of high topped boots, the foregoing conversation was overheard. It will be recalled that the comptroller some years ago was constituted father of a zoo to be established in Swope park, and he set out enthusiastically and vigorously upon his task. He prevailed upon the park board to let a contract to build a zoo building at a cost of about $35,000, and while the builders were rearing the structure, he looked about for animals and curiosities.
He wanted to prepare a surprise for everybody, so four months ago he invested $1,000 in four lions without letting everybody know his business. He expected that the building would be ready then for the reception of the beasts, and he did not figure that there was likely to be a dispute between the contractor and architect over a small matter of $3,900 for alleged extras in excess of the contract.
But the contractor and architect did lock horns over the extras, and the result was that the park board refused to accept the building pending the dispute even inf Mr. Pearson did have four lions with voracious appetites on his hands. He had to make the best of his plight. The four lions were stored in a barn at Dodson, and Mr. Pearson provided for their daily fare of meat at $1.57 per day. When the bills began to climb up into the hundreds of dollars, and there was no indication that the contractor and architect were going to agree, Mr. Pearson appealed to the park board.
He got no sympathy from this source, and when a cold snap came along that threatened the lions with pneumonia unless fires were started to keep them warm the patient comptroller became desperate. Negotiations were set under way to temporarily turn the lions over to the Hippodrome management, but before the plan was carried out the contractor and architect came to terms. The contractor, Carl Nilson, is to accept $2,000 as a compromise and the deal will be closed today.
"Are you glad?" Mr. Pearson was asked last night.
"Glad? That doesn't half express my feelings," he replied.
"When will the lions be moved over to the zoo?"
"Mighty quick," he answered.