Mill Mountain Zoo hosts ribbon cutting for expansion and renovation of two exhibits

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – Dozens of people gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to view the expansion and renovation of the black bear and red wolf exhibits at the Mill Mountain Zoo.

The initial goal of the zoo was to make the area accessible to people with disabilities and this resulted in an even bigger project. The Mill Mountain Zoo had a ton of support throughout the project and made sure everyone involved was recognized on this special day.

“People want us to succeed. We are not the little zoo that could, we are now the little zoo that will, said Niki Voudren, executive director of Mill Mountain Zoo.

Voudren and his staff are delighted to share it with all visitors and hope to continue this momentum for future projects.

You can find the press release below:

“The Black Bear and Red Wolf Expansion Project began as an exciting project to increase accessibility throughout the zoo,” said Niki Voudren, Mill Mountain Zoo General Manager. “This is a former zoo with challenging terrain, and since we are a non-profit organization, we can only make capital improvements when funding is secured; however, we will not compromise security and accessibility. It was an absolute priority to make the exhibition of the red wolf accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Some of the zoo’s undeveloped properties have been used to expand visitor access and improve the visitor experience. Unfortunately, when the renovations began, the urgent need for critical repairs became obvious and unavoidable, which increased the scope of the project and, ultimately, the cost.

“Because safety and accessibility are always of paramount importance, we soon realized that what we thought was a simple passion project was actually going to be more complex and expensive than expected. Continuing was never in question – we got creative and got to work. The expansion/renovation would not be possible without so many wonderful contributors who care deeply about the zoo. We are forever grateful that so many people have gathered around this iconic historic zoo,” Voudren said.

The upgrade involved replacing recycled telephone poles and recycled railroad ties with steel poles and steel fencing. With new indestructible materials, the cases will stand the test of time. The new, upgraded, state-of-the-art black bear and red wolf exhibits measure 5,000 square feet each and demonstrate the zoo’s commitment to the highest standards of safety and animal welfare. As a bonus, the reduced maintenance requirements of the new enclosures will save the zoo money for many generations.

“This project ensures the integrity of both enclosures for decades to come and represents the high quality standards we have put in place to ensure/preserve a viable future for Mill Mountain Zoo,” Voudren said.

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