Human remains found during construction at Oregon Zoo

Human remains found during construction at Oregon Zoo »Play Video
The remains of nine people were found during construction of the new elephant habitat.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Construction workers digging the new elephant habitat at the Oregon Zoo discovered a human skull last month.

Since then, archaeologists have found the remains of nine people buried within a six-acre area.

We know the remains date back as far as 1868, but we will probably never know their names.

The remains are believed to be people who lived at the Hillside Farm, a 160-acre poor farm owned and operated by Multnomah County. It was a place for the poor to get medical care, and often live out their last days.

The zoo knew this land’s history, but they did not have a clear indication where the bodies were buried.

“It was a poor farm so people weren’t generally buried with headstones,” said Heidi Rahn, director of the Better Zoo Program. “So no grave markers, so we were unaware when we would find them.”

Construction crews also a burial ground in 2008 when the zoo was building a new exhibit.

Rahn said the collected remains will be reburied in the same spot to preserve the history of the land.

“I think the most important thing for us was treating the remains with respect,” she said. “We know they lived here a hundred years ago and we wanted to make sure we were properly respecting them.”