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CLEVELAND ZOO KEY

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ClevelandSGS was feeling nostalgic and broke out the old Cleveland Zoo Key. This piece of CLE history always makes us reminisce about visits to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as children.  This particular key is “Packey” the Elephant.  If you grew up here you remember that you would insert good ole’ Packey’s trunk into the keyhole and wait for the talking storybook (narrated by Linn Sheldon).  The key would give some interesting facts, and some not so interesting facts (elephants are large).

The fun thing about this advertising gimmick is that you were allowed to keep the key. This then made you pester your parents to take you back to the zoo to unlock additional storybooks located throughout the premises. The key above was sold by the Cleveland Zoological Society and produced by Claude’s Talking Storybook.  The original zoo key program ended in 1980 and was resurrected in 1996. The new zoo keys have a koala (you’re no packey) on them.  For more information on the zoo key program wait for the next six months of winter to pass and then go visit the zoo.

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20 Responses to “CLEVELAND ZOO KEY”

  1. links for 2008-12-24 | Brewed Fresh Daily Says:

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  2. Doctor Zombie Says:

    Oh, man! I used to have one of those! I remmber it sat for years in the junk drawer at my parents house and – when I was probably 8 or 9, I went on a school field trip to the Cleveland Zoo. I had my Packey Zoo Key and, for one brief afternoon… I was the coolest kid.

    Great memory!

  3. Heidi Cool Says:

    Great memories. My Packey was red. I kept it on the bulletin board, next to the swimming ribbons and other memorabilia until we moved house when I was 13. Not sure where it ended up after that.

  4. Christopher Lobas Says:

    My pachyderm key was also red. I never have seen a teal blue key like the one depicted above. My key was a treasure. I knew, even at a young age, that this key was not a trinket, nay, it was not a mere article of cheap plastic, neither a knick nor a knack was it.

    Rather, this key gave a youth unfettered access to a zoological universe of knowledge, a seemingly unlimited treasure trove of illustrious facts, a veritable bouillabaisse of magestic Metropark messages.

    When our team was losing at Estrabrook, or when the nuns at Saint Leo’s were mean, or when they paved over my forest at I-480 and State Road…I knew that the Metroparks were still there…and that this key would still unlock the boxes next to the silverback gorilla cages, the monkey island, the fearsome big cats, and the mighty pachyderm house itself.

    Then one day, all the boxes went away…as did my childhood.

  5. Christopher Lobas Says:

    My pachyderm key was also red. I never have seen a teal blue key like the one depicted above. My key was a treasure. I knew, even at a young age, that this key was not a trinket, nay, it was not a mere article of cheap plastic, neither a knick nor a knack was it.

    Rather, this key gave a youth unfettered access to a zoological universe of knowledge, a seemingly unlimited treasure trove of illustrious facts, a veritable bouillabaisse of magestic Metropark messages.

    When our team was losing at Estrabrook, or when the nuns at Saint Leo’s were mean, or when they paved over my forest at I-480 and State Road…I knew that the Metroparks were still there…and that this key would still unlock the boxes next to the silverback gorilla cages, the monkey island, the fearsome big cats, and the mighty pachyderm house itself.

    Then one day, all the boxes went away…as did my childhood.

  6. Leontiev Says:

    Interesting that the elephant-shaped zoo keys were called “Packey” in Cleveland and “Trunkey” at other locations. I suspect the name of the key was tied to specific contract arrangements & marketing schemes. The elephant-shaped zoo key used by the Toledo Zoo was known as “Amber” the elephant.

    Zoo keys were extremely popular in the late 1950s-early 1960s when they were first introduced. Since then, the popularity of zoo keys has ebbed and peaked over the decades, but with new playback technology and different animal shaped keys, they are making a comeback at zoos and other exhibits.

    Indeed, the zoo key is more than a mere trinket; it evokes childhood memories of animals, song and Dr. Doolittle aspirations.

    Thanks for sharing your Packey!!

  7. Robin Says:

    I purchased one of these keys off of eBay and the very rumpled, creased and worn light blue Toledo tag says let “Amber” the elephant . . . (could barely make out the name using magnification).

  8. Judy Says:

    Recently I was helping my mom go through lost and fogotten boxes in her attic – we found the key in perfect condition with the Cleveland Zoo Tag still attached. Yippee

  9. Roger Steimle Says:

    Istill have my teal colored key got it in 1965 I don’t know how I managed to keep it all this years . We used to live in Geneva and only went to the zoo once

  10. Adventures in Childhood Nostalgia | Cleveland Zoo Key « A Continuous Lean. Says:

    [...] key image from Cleveland SGS. New York Zoo key via. Comments: [...]

  11. Denise Says:

    I still have my red key with the tag still attached and in excellent shape, think I got it in 1976 – went several times before I finally was able to get one, it was such a big deal. One of the few things I have left.

  12. Super Soul Says:

    Mine was orange. I got it on a school field trip to the zoo in 1979. Good Times!

  13. Bob Says:

    I recently found a couple of the original gold amber the elephant keys from the first year. Kept a couple and place one on ebay.

  14. Tom Says:

    went to cleveland zoo on october 13 and my girlfriend purchased the new zoo key which resembles the old packey key i got back in october of 1979. packey is back!!

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  20. Robb Says:

    I LOVE IT!!!! “Packey” fans. I have my orangish-red ‘packey’ key still and still have the attached tag….and it’s readable. Can’t believe mom saved this for me and gave it to me when I was in my 20s. Btw…I’m 42 now and still kept it! Lol!


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