BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Miller Park Zoo on Friday hosted a ribbon cutting for the new Debrazza Monkey exhibit.
Chumu is a 17-year-old Debrazza monkey, an Old World monkey from central and west Africa with a distinctive white beard.
Beverly Edwards, co-owner of the Copy Shop, the exhibit’s sponsor, said she and her husband are very involved with the zoo.
“We worked on it for so long that we had to sponsor it,” she said. “It’s such a blessing to have this zoo for a fairly small city, and it’s just a wonderful asset for the community.”
Jay Tetzloff, the zoo’s superintendent, said the new exhibit serves their mission of conservation, education and fun.
“It gives us an opportunity to educate and engage our guests even more. The goal is to be engaged and we want to save these guys,” he said, adding more than 60% of zoo visitors are from out-of-town.
Chumu will eventually share the brand new enclosure with a female Debrazza monkey and two red-flanked duikurs, “knee-high antelopes” that are susceptible to the bushmeat trade in Africa, Tetzloff said. He said Chumu has top notch genetics and will breed future generations as part of the zoo’s conservation efforts.
Tetzloff added there are multiple projects in the pipeline. He said a 30-seat outdoor theater is currently under construction and expected to open in the next month or two. Over the next year, he said there will be a new South America exhibit with giant anteaters and bushdogs, as well as a pavilion for birthday parties.
“My first five years we didn’t have a single project, and now we have four at the same time,” he said.
Tetzloff said the monkey exhibit is funded almost entirely through a grant from Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He said Miller Park Zoo is an essential attraction for the community.
“As we try to draw new employers and people into our community, you have to give them something to do. You have to give them a good quality of life and I’m glad the zoo can be part of that,” he said.