The Gladys Porter Zoo’s annual Zoofari fundraiser is days away and zoo staff is hoping to raise enough money for long overdue renovations and interactive exhibits.
Zoo director Dr. Pat Burchfield said staff has big plans for the Patty Gorges Small World exhibit. Burchfield said the area was built 43 years ago and over time the need for repairs has become so extensive that it makes more sense to rebuild and start from ground zero.
Burchfield said it was exciting to evaluate the needs of the area in order to redesign and explore state-of-the-art concepts.
Zoo public relations coordinator Arely Jimenez said the zoo will be adding interactive exhibits designed to engage visitors and enhance their zoo experience. The proposed renovations include a Meerkat Motel with pop-up viewing tubes to give children a closer look at meerkats. The center of the newly renovated Small World will feature a giant Ceiba Tree exhibit, which will house small monkeys with overhead runways for the monkeys to move about.
At the base of the tree children will be able to crawl through tunnels while the monkeys play overhead. In addition to these animal-encounter exhibits, the renovation also will include a brand new nursery for zoo babies, and a Nigerian dwarf goat contact yard.
By developing the concept and design in-house, Burchfield said the zoo is able to cut costs by large margins while at the same time customizing the exhibits specifically around the needs of zoo animals and staff.
Christina R. Garza