The Rosamond Gifford Zoo broke ground Thursday on a long-awaited animal health center that officials say will boost the zoo’s already strong reputation for animal care and research. Planning for the $7.5 million facility began in 2018, and will be located on land behind the social primate building.
It’ll replace the once state of the art medical clinic built in the late 1980’s. Zoo Director Ted Fox says the public will be able to see just how much goes into caring for the animals.
“There’s a large lobby area so they will be able to look into the intensive care unit, the commissary where all the diets are made. They’re going to see the operating room and treatment room. There is also a small classroom in there so we will be able to do educational programs too.”
Fox says the community is more aware of animal conservation, and they’re expecting zoos to be transparent about animal care.
“Many of the species we work with now, with Cornell we do research for; diseases in elephants, diseases in camelids, all kinds of different things. We are going to continue and now with a bigger space we will be able to do more.”
Fox says the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommended the clinic to maintain the zoo’s accreditation, one of only 240 in the nation. County Executive Ryan McMahon says the project will create additional opportunities for growth.
“Certainly, with the partnership we have with Cornell and now with the state of art health center like this, this will help attract other partnerships, will help have more professionals look at this being a community that they can live with and play in.”
The Friends of the Zoo is contributing $1.2 million worth of medical equipment for the center. The shell of the building should be completed in time for winter, and the clinic is expected to up and running by July.