Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo plans major renovations of Monkey Island, otter exhibit
Monkey Island will get a major remake and a new otter exhibit will give the animals nearly three times more space to romp and play, according to renovation plans announced by the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
In a letter sent to zoo donors this week, the zoo announced the projects and its $6.4 million Journey to the Heart of the Zoo fundraising campaign, which will pay for the new projects as well as work completed last winter, such as improvements to Mother Goose Pond, paths from the gift shop to the train station and a new water line system.
The zoo, which is located at 3411 Sherman Blvd. in Franke Park, has raised more than half of its goal, said Bonnie Kemp, zoo communications director.
The new renovation is scheduled to start Nov. 1 and be completed for the opening of the 2019 zoo season, Kemp said. The Monkey Island exhibit will be under construction during the 2018 zoo season, but the otter exhibit and other Central Zoo exhibits will be open, she said.
A major goal of the Monkey Island renovation will be “to ensure kids are able to connect with animals from the moment they enter through our front gate,” said the letter signed by Amy Lazoff, zoo director of development.
After the renovations, Monkey Island visible to visitors as soon as they enter the zoo, the letter said. An architectural drawing of the exhibit shows it will retain its same basic shape, but a new building spanning the northwest portion of the moat around the island will allow zookeepers to keep the Capuchin monkeys inside at the exhibit during the off-season and on cold spring or fall days, Kemp said.
Waterfalls will pour from east and south sides of the building into the moat, and a short stream will flow across the southwest part of the island. The plans also show a perching tree in the center of the island.
The new, larger otter exhibit will include several new features, such as an underwater viewing shelter and a viewing cave at the front of the exhibit, the architectural drawing shows, At the back of the exhibit, a waterfall will lead to a deep-water pool and an otter slide, and a stream will flow from the back deep-water pool to the deep-water pool in the front of the exhibit.
Additional work will include installing wider, accessible pathways in the Central Zoo area for people with disabilities, the letter said. Current zoo parking lots also will be reconfigured to improve vehicle flow and to provide a new, safe drop-off area for schoolchildren visiting on class trips.