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Sneak Peak of New Aviary at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo Reveals Tropical Rain Forest Environment

June 20, 2002
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823
County Executive

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and zoo officials Thursday gave the media and project donors a sneak peak at the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo’s new $4.4 million Aviary and tropical rain forest. The three-story, 10,000 square foot building, with translucent roof and wall panels, provides a South American tropical rainforest experience for visitors. In three to four months, over 100 tropical birds will join the 250 rain forest plants, waterfalls and ponds already installed. The opening of the Aviary to the public will be held when the project is complete and birds have been added, expected sometime this fall. “Our free zoo is fun, educational, and gives families a wonderful experience. Children and adults alike enjoy the high quality environment we create for our birds and animals,” said Falk. “Huge credit is due to the great energy and generosity of members of the Zoological Society. They have my thanks and gratitude,“ said Falk. The Henry Vilas Zoological Society, a non-profit organization supporting the zoo, is donating $3.2 million for the project. Dane County is contributing $960,000 and the City of Madison, $240,000. “The Aviary is designed to help build a bridge of understanding about the importance of all living species to humankind and the responsibility to protect and preserve wildlife,” said Jim Hubing, zoo director. The Aviary is the fourth and final phase of “ReZoovenation,” which has added new, state of the art facilities for the large cats and the primates, and upgraded the visitor center and concession area. The Aviary is composed of three parts: Habitat I, educational information about rainforests and bio-diversity, shows the importance of the earth’s rainforests which cover only 3.5 percent of the earth’s land area but hold over half of all living species. Habitat II, stream and ecosystem, displays the importance of the relationship between all living species. Exhibit will hold toucans, freshwater stingray, matamata turtles, golden lion tamarins, piranhas and other species. Habitat III gives visitors a walk through a simulated South American rainforest. In the exhibit space will be pygmy marmoset, sloth, cavies and a variety of birds. Indoor and outdoor exhibit space will include capybara and otter. All Habitat exhibits will combine interactive graphics, plants and wildlife. J.H. Findorff and Son is the general contractor. # # #