Zoo gets new additions

Zoo staffer Jeanne Elin with one of the young adult wolves.Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD With spring comes new additions to the Zoo at Forest Park.

Last week the Chair of the zoo's board of directors, Scott Foster, showed Reminder Publications what visitors could expect.

The zoo recently re-opened its Discovery Room thanks to a $50,000 grant by the Davis Foundation. Foster said the grant allowed the zoo to remodel the room with a new non-skid floor, a raised ceiling and freshly painted bright walls.

Foster explained the room is designed for children ages 10 and under to have space to see smaller animals close up and for education programs. Several aquariums in the room contained various species of turtle and Foster said that other animals would be brought into the room depending upon the program.

The room had been closed last year, but now the Robert S. Davis Discovery Center will be used for school groups and programs throughout the summer.

People who haven't visited the zoo for a while will be pleasantly surprised by a number of new animals. A baby spider monkey was recently born and Foster said the zoo staff hopes the baby animal can avoid the infant mortality issues that has affected other baby spider monkeys.

The zoo also has three less cuddly new residents: baby alligators.

The two wolves purchased last year as cubs have grown into young adults. Zoo employee Jeanne Elin said staffers had tried to teach the pair to howl, but the wolves only started to make their distinctive noise only after they heard the zoo's donkey bray. Elin said they each get walked four or five times a week and are being socialized so they can be brought to schools for zoo programs.

Foster said the zoo has recently purchased three gazebos that will be constructed so more animals will be on display. He said the zoo has a number of animals the public doesn't get to see because of lack of exhibit space.

Although the zoo has seen some financially perilous times, Foster said, the future looks brighter. Foster noted a fund-raising consultant helped the board of directors better understand how to raise money. The result has been the discontinuing of the zoo's annual golf tournament and a focus on its annual "Party with the Animals," which has grown from an attendance of 130 people to 300.

The zoo at one time received some state aid, but no longer does, something that Foster is working to change. He said the Franklin Park in Boston receives state aid that amounts to a $7 subsidy for each visitor. When the Zoo at Forest Park did receive state assistance it was at the rate of 50 cents per each visitor.

For more information on the zoo, log onto www.forestparkzoo.org.

Reminder Publications, Inc. 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028 • Tel: 413.525.6661 • Fax 413.525.5882

Web Design by