News release from the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo:
Zoo Opens April 23
Ribbon cutting at 8:45 a.m. Saturday for Remodeled Zoo Entrance
New animals, zoo babies, and state-of-the-art guest amenities will shine when the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo opens for its 47th season on Saturday, April 23.
The zoo’s largest and most impressive new feature will greet guests as they arrive: a completely remodeled zoo entrance complex. Updated ticket booths and attractive landscaping will ensure a pleasant entry to the zoo. A new Guest Service building will give zoo guests easy access to the zoo’s Membership, Reception, and Guest Service staff. The new Stroller and Wagon Rental facility, located just inside the zoo gate, will provide convenient access for guests in need of strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs. An enlarged plaza will offer a gathering spot for large groups. The entire $1.3 million cost of the new zoo entrance facility was paid for with donations from corporations, foundations, and individuals.
The zoo will mark the grand opening of the remodeled entrance with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8:45 a.m. on April 23. Following the ribbon-cutting, the zoo gates will swing open to welcome the first visitors of the season.
“This new facility will help us welcome our 500,000 annual guests more efficiently, and bring the zoo entrance to the same high standards we employ in the rest of the zoo,” says Zoo Director Jim Anderson.
Zoo guests are sure to enjoy the seven-member reticulated giraffe herd, featuring Kesi, who was born at the zoo in June. Kesi will join her 18-month old half-sister Zahra and adult females Mystic, Luna, Zuri, and Kalahari in the exhibit. Male giraffe Jelani will keep careful watch as the giraffes interact with zoo guests at the popular giraffe feeding platform.
Africa’s largest owl species will inhabit a new home in the African Journey. A Verreaux’s eagle owl will swoop into a newly constructed exhibit later this summer, showing off its 6-foot wingspan. These owls are also known as milky eagle owls.
The Indiana Family Farm will be abuzz with a new honeybee exhibit this season. The demonstration hive will allow guests to view the inner workings of the bee colony, and the queen bee will be marked with a spot of non-toxic paint to make her easy to find among the buzzing swarm.
A new horse named Sara resides in the Big Red Barn at the Indiana Family Farm, replacing Maize, the zoo’s beloved draft horse, who died in January.
Covered with frilly tentacles, a tasseled wobbegong shark is the newest resident of the 50,000-gallon Great Barrier Reef aquarium shark tank. Expect to see the 3-foot-long shark lurking among the coral features in the tank.
Standing as tall as a man, an impressive male eastern grey kangaroo named Mako recently hopped into the Australian Adventure. Mako’s arrival is expected to result in several kangaroo joeys later this season.
A seven-week-old Ruppell’s griffon vulture chick is growing steadily under the care of zoo keepers. While the chick will remain off-exhibit for most of the summer, other members of the vulture flock will be exhibited on the African Journey’s three-acre savannah.
All 33 hand-carved wooden figures on the Earl B. Wells Endangered Species Carousel are being refurbished this season. As the exotic dugongs, cassowaries, tapirs, and other endangered animals are rotated off for repainting, classic carousel horses will temporarily fill their place on the popular ride, which was installed in 1994. The ride will remain operational all season. The carousel’s facelift is funded entirely by donations.
“We can’t wait to share the zoo with our half-million guests in 2011,” says Anderson. “It’s going to be a great season at the zoo!”
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is northeast Indiana’s largest tourist attraction, hosting more than 500,000 guests annually. The zoo is consistently named one of the nations Top Ten Zoos for Kids by national media outlets.
As a self-supporting facility, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo receives no tax dollars for operations. The zoo’s operations are funded by earned revenue and donations.
The zoo is open April 23â€”October 9, 2011. Admission is $13.00 for adults; $10.50 for seniors age 60+; and $8.50 for children ages 2-14. Babies age 1 and under and Zoo Society Members are admitted free.