The first phase of the Miller Park Zoo master plan includes new exhibits such as flamingoes, Galapagos tortoises and a giant anteater as well as renovating exhibits such as the otter exhibit. (B. Corbin/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
BLOOMINGTON - Miller Park Zoo will be working on the first phases of the master plan thanks to a $100,000 pledge from Country Financial, Growmark and the Illinois Farm Bureau.
The $16 million master plan was created last year to help the zoo go from a local attraction to a regional destination. Zoo Superintendent Jay Tetzloff said the money will fund the first phase.
"A new flamingo exhibit, bringing in a giant anteater, a giant Galapagos tortoise exhibit, bush dogs, a kind of weasel, relocating the bald eagles and building new exhibits and better exhibits for sea lions and otters," Tetzloff said.
Those changes will happen over time, with the flamingoes coming first and designs starting in 2014.
Country Spokeswoman Chris Anderson said many employees have been involved with the zoo and the master plan for many years and the company is pleased to give philanthropic support.
The 20-year master plan would add 1.8 acres to the existing 4.5 acre facility. The zoo would be largely redesigned by grouping exhibits into geographical areas such as Asia, Australia, Africa, South America and North America.
The Miller Park Zoological Society is trying to use more private dollars instead of relying on city funding. Tetzloff said he hopes this donation leverages more gifts from community businesses and organizations.
"This year, the budget that we proposed will but the zoo subsidy below 50 percent, and that's for the first time in my three years," Tetzloff said.