Dogs and big cats on their way to the Binder Park Zoo

The Binder Park Zoo is one giant step closer to its African Lion exhibit. The zoo broke ground Wednesday, April 20 on the exhibit. 

At the same time, the zoo announced a new African Painted Dog exhibit will be built across from the African Lion exhibit. 

The groundbreaking is the culmination of a $3 million capital campaign--Lions, Tortoise & Bears...Oh My! that got under way in June 2014. 

The newly announced African Painted Dog exhibit was not part of the original capital campaign. It is made possible through a gift by Frank Zanettti and John and Ann Zanetti in memory of Frank's son and John's and Anne's nephew, Andrew.

Construction on the new lion exhibit will begin in the spring of 2016 and the new exhibit will open in 2017. It will have a grassy meadow and water hole that will bring to mind the African plains. Lions will be able to shelter under a rock formation or perch on it. 

At a close up viewing station that will resemble an African home, visitors will see the lions through a glass wall. 

"The lion and dog exhibits will share an animal holding building and a transfer chute system," zoo officials say. "While the two species will never come in direct contact with each other and will travel through the chute at separate times, the shared building and transfer chute system will allow keepers to swap the two species between exhibits. This swapping of exhibits will offer both species an excellent enrichment opportunity, allowing them to experience new sites and smells."  

The African lion is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN Red List). Once common in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, the lion remains only in remote places in Africa and India. Major threats include reduction of the lion’s habitat and wild prey, causing the lion to seek alternative food sources on cattle ranches. The lion is then shot or poisoned in retaliation by ranchers, according to zoo officials.  

Once common in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, the lion remains only in remote places in Africa and India.The lion is a protected species with numbers diminishing from 400,000 in the 1950’s down to an estimated 47,000 today. The addition of lions at Binder Park Zoo will provide the Zoo with an important platform to inform guests about the urgent need to preserve this species. 

Binder Park Zoo is located outside of Battle Creek and sits on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. It serves over 50,000 people annually in 15 different types of education programs and participates in conservation of wildlife and natural habitats on five continents. A total of 8 million people have visited the zoo since it was established in 1975.

Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo President and CEO, says, “Although we continue to raise funds, the outpouring of support has been wonderful. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project.  This project will positively impact our regional community for generations to come.”

Source: Binder Park Zoo
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