Out with the Old in with the Zoo
The Erie Zoo launched our capital campaign, Wild Open Spaces, in 2019 with the hopes of further developing the zoo and modernizing our habitats and facilities. Like many of us, the Erie Zoo struggled during the pandemic, presenting more challenges in 2020 to even now, than we could have foreseen. The support of our zoo community is what supported us through to the other side of the pandemic and our 2023 season. In our 61st season will be bringing to life new ideas and rennovations across the zoo's campus. This season the Erie Zoo is going to look and feel a little different than it has in the past. We are thankful to be underway on many of projects that will reinvent the spaces and give our visitors a more modern and engaging experience as they walk the grounds.
Our capital campaign plans started to come to fruition with the renovation to the center of the zoo; many of you are familiar with this space previously housing our giraffe. Those of you that enjoyed a day at the zoo in spring or early summer 2022 would have noticed the active construction in this space. By June 2022 we opened this space to the public for the first time as the Hilbert Family Primate Habitat! For the remainder of the 2022 season, you could stop in and see our new Eastern black and white colobus brothers, Jambo and Mianzi, swinging about their spacious habitat. We are so proud of what this new habitat, the Benjamin Hynes Memorial observation deck, and the Primate Patio have done for the aesthetics and functionality of this space.
Additionally, the Hilbert Family Primate Habitat has just taken in four new tenants this March! Our black and white colobus monkeys, Jambo and Mianzi, are adjusting well to their smaller roommates, who include two Allen's swamp monkeys, Claira and Kam, and lesser spot-nosed guenons, Nemo and Georgia. These rambunctious pairs are full of energy and personality, making for quite an eclectic group in this newly transformed habitat. Be sure to stop and say hi the next time you are at the zoo!
Aside from our capital campaign plans, the Erie Zoo has also received several grants throughout 2022 that are leading to more projects that will enhance the grounds throughout 2023-2024. This includes the new expansion and renovation of the North American River Otter’s habitat, which has already been prepared for upcoming construction. Reference the rendering attached to this artical for a sneak peek of what we plan the space to look like! Originally built in the 1980s, this habitat has always been a visitor favorite where guests can watch these joyful animals swim, play, and relax while overlooking Mill Creek. Although this change will create some small detours, the result will be well worth it for our visitors and our otters!
Additionally, in the fall of 2022, we received state support to build a new family-style, gender-neutral bathroom in our Kiboka Outpost. If you’ve been keeping up with our zoo news, we also announced in the fall of 2022 that we are planning to build a brand-new, leading-edge veterinary hospital that will expand and enhance our veterinary program. This will not only elevate the work our veterinary staff is capable of, but will allow the Erie Zoo to participate in larger-scale studies and make greater contributions to animal science across the nation. This new facility does not currently have a planned construction start date as there is still a lot of planning to do and funds to raise to match the grant that we received. We look forward to the progress we make on it this year so it can soon become an integral part of our local zoo and the veterinary community.
If you didn’t think we could make any more changes to the zoo this season, you will be surprised to learn that we have two more projects we are looking to complete! The zoo entrance will be getting an upgrade this fall, complete with a new entry gate and a refurbishing of the original mosaic tiling on the entrance pillars. Additionally, the Children's Zoo bridge is currently under construction, resulting in a new detour to Children's Zoo that can be accessed in Wild Asia! The bridge project is looking to be completed sooner than later and we cannot wait to see this new structure come to light.
We are SWINGING into this season full of excitement for the many improvements and modernizations that will be made throughout it and we cannot wait to share this journey with you. Although these changes will bring detours and at times some eyesores, we know that these are the signs of change and growth that will only enhance your experience here at the Erie Zoo.
Navigating the zoo this season may look a little different than the years in the past. Check out these quick tips that will help you and your family this Erie Zoo season!
- Look for signage—there will be signage up around the zoo that assists in finding your detours and gives you more insight on what projects are underway.
- Ask away—the Erie Zoo staff is thrilled to be welcoming these changes made to our local zoo. If you have any questions while on zoo grounds, feel free to stop and chat with an Erie Zoo staff member, we are happy to help and share what's going on!
- Safety first—when visiting the Erie Zoo this season, please be aware of the contruction that is happening on site. Be sure you are following the safety rules and DO NOT venture beyond the bounds that are set for your safety.