Not only does the Columbus Zoo have an awesome collection of animals, but it also is the home of a restored 1914 Mangels-Illions Carousel. This carousel is built in the style of Coney Island carousels by the William F. Mangels Company. Mangels was a German immigrant who designed and built some of the most beautiful carousels in the United States, including the ones in Coney Island Amusement Park. In 1907, he patented a version of the overhead gears that controlled the up-and-down "galloping" motion of the horses. Mangels' design became the standard, and Mangels himself became a leader in the field. He employed the best wood carvers and mechanics, who often were immigrants themselves. Mangels also designed other amusement park fixtures, such as kiddie cars and The Whip.
Marcus Illions is recognized as one of the two greatest artists of the carousel world. His masterpiece horses have very flamboyant heads and fairly well decorated bodies. Illions carved all the heads for his horses himself. Illions first carved carousel horses in England and then carved for Charles Looff in Brooklyn. He formed his own company in Brooklyn, New York, in 1909, carving initially for Mangels and then for himself. Although Illions' three most spectacular carousels (known as the "Supreme" models) have all been broken up, a number of his other carousels still remain. Examples of these are at Agawam Amusement Park in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Columbus Zoo.
The carousel at the Columbus Zoo was originally designed for and installed at the now-defunct Olentangy Park in Clintonville, an unincorporated neighborhood of Columbus. When the park closed, the carousel was moved to Wyandot Lake Amusement Park which was adjacent to the zoo. It operated there for sixty years. The amusement park had seen its better days and was torn down and replaced with Zoombezi Bay Water Resort and Jungle Jack's (Hanna) Landing Amusement Park, which opened last year. In 1998, the carousel underwent a million-dollar restoration and was moved onto zoo property. There it is enjoyed by children and adults alike.
The carousel has fifty-two hand-carved and painted horses, two chariots and a Stinson band organ playing all your favorite old-time merry-go-round and circus tunes.
Kaitlyn is enjoying her ride.