Written by Steven Keith
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 00:00
DECATUR — As part of the renovation of an aging zoo facility, Scovill Zoo is constructing an outdoor, above-water and underwater penguin exhibit that is expected to open sometime this year.
During a Dec. 5 meeting, the Decatur Park District Board of Commissioners approved a $1.4 million contract with Christy-Foltz Inc. for the construction of a warm-weather penguin exhibit as well as infrastructure improvements in the building that will house the exhibit. Christy-Foltz Inc. of Decatur began working on the exhibit a week after the contract was approved.
Scovill Zoo Director Dave Webster hopes construction on the exhibit that will house 10 Humboldt penguins is completed this spring.
“We’re just getting started with it,” said Webster. “Although we hope to be able to open it in early summer, it really depends on how well construction goes over the winter. If not, the opening will be delayed until fall.”
Although the exhibit will have the capacity to house 15 penguins, it will house 10 penguins when it opens. Scovill Zoo will receive the 10 Humboldt penguins from various zoos across the country, including zoos in Seattle, Wash.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Syracuse, N.Y.; St. Louis, Mo.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Wichita, Kan.
The Humboldt penguins will have a 5,000-gallon pool to swim in, and they will be able to take refuge in a building that also includes filtration systems and two pools for isolation if any animals get sick.
“The penguin exhibit is actually an outside exhibit,” said Webster. “They do have a building that has all the life support equipment and will house them at certain times, but for the most part they will be outdoors. It’s an open area with viewing, both above water where you can watch them or through a glass window where you can watch them swimming underwater.”
The exhibit is being built where guinea pigs, barn owls, box turtles and a crowned crane had been housed. The crowned crane will be moved to a new exhibit. Some box turtles went to the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington. The guinea pigs and barn owls will be located outside of exhibit areas until zoo officials can find another place to display them.
Christy-Foltz Inc. is installing new sanitary sewer, storm and water lines and electrical infrastructures in the building that will house exhibit.
“The area where we’re building is part of the original zoo that was built in 1967, so there were some older exhibits that were really outdated and the original infrastructure there, as far as water supply, electrical service and all that, was not really what we needed,” said Webster. “It was very basic when it was there and most of it was pretty obsolete anyway, so we are having them put in new water lines, new sewers, new electrical service.”
Scovill Zoo officials plan to build other exhibits in the 1967 facility after the penguin exhibit opens.
“This is kind of the first exhibit to be built in the central part, which is most of the original part of the zoo,” said Webster. “And so as we build this exhibit, we are bringing in electrical service and water service to accommodate future exhibit expansion as well. And we hope to keep rolling after we complete the penguin exhibit.”
Exhibits for river otters, American alligators and red pandas will be built in the facility, said Webster.
“The next thing that is planned after this — although I don’t know a time table for it yet — will be an exhibit for river otters,” said Webster. “And then after that we have American alligators. We have American alligators now, but it will be a much nicer exhibit. And then we also have some new primate exhibits — a new red panda exhibit planned.
“Eventually the entire area will become renovated, but it will be done as money becomes available.”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 15:44