Progress On Track at Reid Park Zoo
As we enter May, we will close out Dinosaur Discovery with a Dino Night Wrap Party on May 6 from 6 to 8 p.m. At 7 p.m. during the event, I will be giving an in-person update on the Zoo Master Plan. At 7:15 p.m. there will be a very interesting talk about the demise of dinosaurs given by University of Arizona Vice President for Global Environmental Futures and Dean Emeritus, College of Science, Dr. Joaquin Ruiz. We hope to see you there and that you will join us for this final opportunity to see the dinosaurs before they leave Tucson!
Angel Charity for Children World of Play
The plans and construction documents for World of Play were submitted to the City of Tucson for permits on March 31, 2022. Permitting can take between one and three months, so we are expecting to begin construction sometime in June or July with a groundbreaking in mid-May.
This is exciting as what it means is that a fabulous new play area for children will open in Spring of next year! World of Play will include representations of Antarctica, South America, and North America where children will learn about habitats through play. There will be accessible pathways, slides, rope bridges, an ‘ice’ tunnel through Antarctica, a walk through an eagle’s nest in North America, a scavenger hunt, musical instruments and so much more!
Please note that the parking lot behind the Conservation Learning Center will be closed to the public once this project begins. This area will be a staging zone for construction and there may be times where there is increased traffic and noise. Thank you for your patience through this process.
Pathway to Asia
During our April monthly meeting, we spent time with the City of Tucson’s Urban Landscape Manager, Irene Ogata. We discussed the water harvesting that is planned for the new parking lot. We also discussed how we can maximize the number of trees planted in the parking area. We are estimating that 110 trees will be added to the parking lot and 200+ will be added in the Pathway to Asia portion of the Zoo for a total well in excess of 300 new trees! As we’re building on existing parking lots and maintenance yards, there are only several trees in the area now. This is going to make a huge difference. The Zoo’s expansion area will also convert the existing parking area from approx. 90% hardscape to around 40% green space.
We love it when trees can serve multiple purposes. Trees provide shade, reduce the heat island effect, absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and for the Zoo, their branches are also used as browse for the animals! We are working to select trees that are non-toxic to animals and those which the animals at Reid Park Zoo love to eat. Browse is plant material that is cut and brought to the animals which not only adds to their diet, but is also enrichment, encouraging natural foraging behavior. The new elms that were planted in the front entry in 2020 are just starting to be trimmed and our elephants and other animals are loving this new variety in their diet!
During our meetings this month, we worked on increasing the size of some of the animal habitats in Pathway to Asia with the new layout. We were able to expand the red panda and muntjac habitats, as well as the aviaries and the area for Asian small clawed otters. For the most part, we are re-using the building layouts that were in the original plan incorporating adjustments for utilities and spatial enhancements such as these that improve habitats in the Pathway to Asia area. This plan is going to be great for visitors and animals.
Restrooms are not something you to go a Zoo to see, but something that is very important once you get there! Pathway to Asia will include three restroom areas: one in the Tropical Discovery Center, one in the Kasser Family Asian Pavilion, and one in the garden and pheasant aviaries. These restrooms will all include family restrooms with adult changing tables for those with mobility challenges. In addition, there is a separate comfortable nursing room for nursing mothers located near the garden restrooms which is supplied with electrical outlets and handwashing sinks.
- The new restroom stalls for the existing restrooms in the front area of the Zoo have arrived in Tucson and will be installed in late May, along with new flooring and fixtures.
- The sloth habitat is in final review and should be submitted for permits shortly afterwards.
- Plants have been received for the pollinator garden and will be added shortly.
- The expanded birthday party area is expected to be finalized in May.
- We are beginning plans for updating the Conservation Learning Center. Updates will include refreshing the animal exhibits, flooring, decking and siding of this building.
- Sidewalk reinforcement and new fencing will be going in near the lion habitat in the next month.
- We are in the planning stage for new coolers for the café to improve guest comfort and experience.
Ensuring Reid Park Zoo’s construction is sustainable and accessible are top priorities for the project and very much in mind with our conservation-based mission. Please let us know if you have feedback on what you would like to see by emailing [email protected]
As always, thank you for being with us on this journey. We look forward to keeping you apprised of all the exciting developments.
Nancy J. Kluge
Reid Park Zoo President & CEO