Delacorte Clock

Delacorte Clock whole

George Delacorte

This lighthearted addition to the Central Park Zoo was the gift of George Delacorte. After founding Dell Publishing in 1921, Delacorte made a fortune selling pulp magazines and comic books. In the 1950s, Dell became a major publisher of 25-cent paperbacks. Its stable of authors eventually included Robert B. Parker, Kurt Vonnegut, Danielle Steel, and James Clavell. In 1976, Delacorte sold his company to Doubleday for $35 million.

Every day for over half a century, Delacorte walked through Central Park on the way from his home on the Upper East Side to his office in Midtown. He became one of the Park's greatest benefactors. In 1959, he donated the bronze Alice in Wonderland sculpture in honor of his late wife. In 1962, he came through with funds when the city's budget for a theater for Joseph Papp's Shakespeare in the Park ran out. Delacorte was 71 years young in 1965, when he donated this whimsical clock to the zoo.

The players

Delacorte Clock Bear

Delacorte Clock Elephant

Delacorte Clock goat

Delacorte Clock Hippo

Delacorte Clock Kangaroo

Delacorte Clock Penguin

The Mad Gardener's Song, by Lewis Carroll (from Sylvie and Bruno)

He thought he saw an Elephant
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
'At length I realize,' he said,
'The bitterness of life! '

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister's Husband's Niece.
'Unless you leave this house,' he said,
'I'll send for the police!'

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
'The one thing I regret,' he said,
'Is that it cannot speak! '

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
'If this should stay to dine,'
he said, 'There won't be much for us!'

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a Coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
'Were I to swallow this,' he said,
'I should be very ill!'

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
'Poor thing,' he said, 'poor silly thing!
It's waiting to be fed! '

He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
A Penny-Postag e Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said:
'The nights are very damp!'

He thought he saw a Garden-Door
That opened with a key:
He looked again, and found it was
A Double Rule of Three:
'And all its mystery,' he said,
'Is clear as day to me!'

He thought he saw a Argument
That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bar of Mottled Soap.
'A fact so dread,' he faintly said,
'Extinguishes all hope! '