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Minnesota Zoo seeks $35m funding for aerial treetop walk and renovations

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Minnesota Zoo

Lobbying has started by Minnesota Zoo to fund an aerial walkway, infrastructure, exhibit renovations and a trolley system at the 40-year-old facility.

The biggest liability we have at this zoo is letting it get old all at once,” director John Frawley told the zoo’s board of trustees, according to the Star Tribune. “If we get too far behind, we’ll never be able to catch up.”

The zoo director has focused more on smaller investments to gradually enhance the zoo’s offering. This approach may find favour as funding for large-scale and ambitious plans to expand have received little encouragement.

In 2017, Minnesota Zoo was the beneficiary of just $4 million out of its hoped-for $24-million application.

In a bid to inform and create support, the zoo has led tours for Governor Mark Dayton’s staff, the House Bonding Committee and Republican House members.

Minnesota Zoo puts forward funding proposals

In summer 2017, a 3-minute promotional video produced with experimental drones, was created to show off the animals and the facilities of Minnesota Zoo.

The zoo’s strategy going forward is to bring guests close to nature. One plan in the pipeline is to convert a disused monorail track and transform it into an aerial treetop walk. If the proposal comes to fruition, the treetop walkway is believed to be the first of its kind in an American zoo.

This would provide an unrivalled view of the zoo, with great opportunities for photography.

Private donations are also sought for the project and the zoo has also requested $5 million from the midwestern state.

The $34.7 million funding request is broken down into various areas. The nocturnal exhibit that shut in 2008 would be re-opened at a cost of $4 million. The snow monkey exhibit and renovation of the main entrance gets $9.5 million, which would make the zoo more accessible to disabled visitors who would use the trolley.

Other plans include campgrounds, hiking trails and an adventure course. If successful in their multi-million dollar funding bid, this would be the biggest lump sum of state aid in Minnesota Zoo’s history.

Images: Minnesota Zoo

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