BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — It’s out with the old and in with the new for the Twin Cities’ Miller Park Zoo.
Wednesday morning, zoo leaders announced to city leaders, staff and local representatives new upcoming changes to take place at the zoo within the next year.
Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on a new exhibit at the zoo and will be the new home of De Brazza monkeys. Zoo Director Jay Tetzloff said it is just one of many exciting things visitors can look forward to.
Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and in addition to the new expansions, the zoo and its staff looked to freshen things up.
“It really is a restart for internal staff, so we can think about where we’re going as a staff,” Tetzloff said.
Tetzloff showed off rebranded zoo logos and updated city leaders and staff on zoo projects. The logo was designed entirely by city and zoo staff without any outside help.
“The logo includes three primary animals; the Debrazza monkey, flamingo, and a paw print. It’s representative of our three current signature exhibits. The logo is simple, it’s clean, clear, and visible,” Tetzloff said.
Tetzloff said the new expansions that include the De Brazza monkey exhibit are almost finished.
There is also a $1 million project set to break ground this fall that would replace the Rainforest Theater and bring in new animals such as anteaters and bush dogs.
“Our new projects that we’re moving forward are showing off some new animals, removing some of the older exhibits that we have. It really is phenomenal to see where the zoo is going,” Tetzloff said. “We’ll actually demolish our red panda exhibit, our Pallas’s cats, Eurasian eagle-owls, and our Rainforest Theater; those are all aging exhibits that really need to be replaced, they’re all reaching the lifespan of those exhibits.”
Tetzloff said the red pandas will be relocated.
He said most of the zoo’s visitors come from outside the area to visit.
“We still feel ourselves as an economic driver for this community. Two-thirds of paid guests that come through the zoo are not from McLean County,” Tetzloff said.
Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe said he is very excited about the rebranding and longevity of the zoo to tourists and locals.
“That’s very important in terms of bringing in additional tax dollars to the community,” Mwilambwe said.
Mwilambwe said the zoo is an important facet of the community to not only taxpayers but also local businesses like Ferrero and Rivian, who use the zoo as a selling point for prospective employees and their families.
“It’s an affirmation for the kind of work the zoo has been doing over the years. It’s been here for a very long time and is something that will continue to provide a lot of benefits,” Mwilambwe said.
Visitors can expect the De Brazza monkey exhibit to open next month and some of the newer attractions to open within the next year or so.
The zoo is fully reopened and masks are required in some buildings due to the safety of animals.