Further Expansion Planned for Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Apr 02, 2013 No Comments by

FRESNO – The Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s Facilities Master Plan, put into place in 2007, is already working for the zoo as exhibits such as Stingray Bay and Sea Lion Cove have been added in recent years.

Measure Z, which was approved by voters in 2004 and was expected to generate $100 million for the zoo over a period of 10 years, has been the driving force in enhancing the experience for zoo-goers.  Sea Lion Cove, a $10 million exhibit with a 200,000-gallon pool with rock features.  It opened last year and currently holds three sea lions, two harbor seals and two brown pelicans.  There is also a special underwater viewing area, where visitors can see the animals much like how they are in the wild.

“We really mimic the California coastline,” said Adrienne Castro, director of education at Fresno Chafee Zoo.  “There’s so many people here in the Valley who have not seen the Pacific Ocean.”

The next big project on the zoo’s radar is the 18-acre “African Adventures” exhibit, which will bring a little piece of Africa into Fresno.  Lions, cheetahs, rhinoceroses and a giraffe will just be some of the animals that will call the area home.  “African Adventures” will be updated in the future with animals like hippos and gorillas, which have been left out of the current plan because of cost.  When that takes place, there could be an underwater viewing area for the hippos, similar to the one at Sea Lion Cove.

“We are in the design phase for Africa, and that actually expands our zoo, so hopefully this summer we’ll break ground for Africa and bring back the rhinos and lions and some of those larger animals that we don’t have now,” Castro said.

Also set for debut later this year is the much-anticipated King Cobra exhibit.

All of the excitement at the zoo has translated into larger visitor numbers for the zoo in recent years.  Last year, attendance was up by 30 percent, and this year it has climbed to 40 percent compared to last year at this time.  Castro said most zoos are pleased if they see a five percent rise.

“We are providing great animal experiences, and our keepers do a lot of interaction with the public, and you don’t see that at all zoos,” Castro said.

Visiting the zoo is also a low-cost activity for people of all ages.  Adults are admitted at a cost of $7, compared to $12 at other zoos.

“It’s cheaper than a movie, but that again is because Measure Z helps us to keep it at that price,” Castro said.

Click this link to view a virtual tour of “African Adventures.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhnj1_KgpwY.

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About the author

James Olinger is a native of the San Joaquin Valley. He graduated from West Hills College in Coalinga, California in 2000 with an associate's degree in liberal arts. He joined Business Street in 2004 as a staff writer, and became the associate editor in 2007. He maintains that position today, writing for Business Street Online in a variety of topics.
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