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The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is almost finished building a new animal health center. When the 20,000 square foot facility opens this September, it will be more than a hospital. Construction is underway, and workers are finishing the walls and ceilings.
Inside, it gives guests an opportunity to see animal care. There are giant windows looking into the treatment rooms and video boards to highlight surgeries. Guests will have a peek into the kitchens and other care centers, too.
“We just haven’t been great storytellers about how much actual care goes into every creature that we have here, from the cockroaches up to the elephants, so this will be that space to let us do what we really want to show the people,” said Ted Fox, the zoo director.
Fox said one of the features he is most excited about is the children’s vet clinic. It will be a hands-on, imaginative play space. Kids can use tools and practice surgery or treatment on plush patients.
“The little kids that are smaller that know more about what we do, how it should be done, the responsibility that we as humans have to steward not only the planet but the animal collections and our populations, and so this is just one of those spaces that we’ll be able to do that,” said Fox.
Animal well-being is first and foremost. This health center allows the zoo to continue to partner with Cornell University for veterinary care. Each type of animal — from large carnivores, to primates, birds and aquatic animals — has a separate space for quarantines. The zoo is adding updated, state-of-the-art equipment in the exam rooms.
The county is spending $7.5 million to build the facility. The Friends of the Zoo are about halfway to their $1.1 million fundraising goal for the medical equipment and things inside.
They’re still looking for a title donor, so for a million dollars, you can get your name on the building.