"The zoo was started in 1971 by the foundation of former J.C. Penney Co. Inc. President Earl C. Sams (the zoo is named for his daughter)."
Zoo officials began discussing what to do with Ruth after the death of her companion Macho. Ruth had been the only elephant on display at the zoo since then. After new rules came from the Association of Zoo and Aquarium Standards for Elephant Management and Care requiring the zoo to expand its exhibit area for a herd of elephants, the decision was made to relocate Ruth to Milwaukee. The Gladys Porter Zoo is land locked by residential neighborhoods, parks and a middle school and had no room to expand. Her departure marked the end of the zoo's elephant exhibit.