October 1, 2008

Phoenix Zoo Plans Overhaul

The zoo in Phoenix plans to spend $20 million on improved and new animal exhibits.

Ed Fox, president of Arizona Public Service and co-chairman of the zoo's fundraising campaign, said officials decided the zoo needs to have a vision of its future.

The largest share of the money, $5 million, is to go to expansion of the orangutan exhibit, The Arizona Republic reported. The orangutans are to get two-story housing about three times the size of their present home. The new digs would include an observation tower.

Another $3.2 million is earmarked for an exhibit of native wildlife that will be the first thing visitors encounter as they enter the zoo.

"We want people to have very intimate experience," zoo President Bert Castro told the Republic. "We need the type of exhibits that get people excited."

To add excitement, the zoo plans a tiger display that will allow visitors to get within 3 inches of the animals, but safely, the newspaper said.

"Have you ever felt a tiger's breath on you?" Fox asked.