As the weather changes, so do the leaves, and so are some of the grounds over at the Roosevelt Park Zoo.
“It’s a long time coming,” zookeeper at RPZ, Becky Zahn Walker, said.
The current habitat was built back in 1975, and the new one will be about 15 times bigger.
It will give the zoo’s two tigers a more natural place to live, with a catwalk up above the habitat, appropriate landscaping, and even a water feature.
Zahn Walker said, “Tigers love water, they like to swim in things like that.”
One of the biggest things to look forward to with this new tiger habitat are the big spaces in the building. Those are for window observation. So when the tigers are inside, we can still see them.
“You’ll be able to be inches away from the tiger,if they lay up or walk past the glass viewing. So all yards will have glass viewing so you can get up close and personal,” Zahn Walker explained.
Window viewing will also give more opportunities for zoo goers to see the tigers eat and train.
But, it will be a big transition for the animals.
Zookeepers will have to crate train the tigers for months so that when moving day comes, they’re not scared of how they’ll be transported.
“To put it in perspective,” Zahn Walker said, “Maybe there’s a gust of wind or suction and the door slams behind you and it kind of startles you, it’s kind of the same thing for them.”
Once they’re in, there will be an adjustment period so the animals can learn a new routine in their new home.
Zahn Walker said, “It’s a big deal. It’s going to be a big move, it’s going to be a big day for the zoo, it’s going to be a big day for the community and I can’t wait.”
The zoo has 4.4 million dollars raised of the 5.6 million needed to complete all three phases.
Aside from annual fundraising events or free will donations, you can still help!
Bricks are for sale to pave the pathway to the new habitat.
You can buy big or small bricks to make your mark for many years to come.
“On that pathway, we’re going to make pavers that people can personalize. They’re 100 and 200 dollars,” Zoo Crew Executive Director, Jennifer Kleen, said. “It’s just an easy way to get involved with the improvements here at the zoo.”
If weather permits and there are no road blocks in the construction process, this phase is expected to be complete by summer 2019.