Plans are nearly finalized for a big renovation project at Tucson’s Reid Park Zoo. The effort will expand the existing animal care center and veterinary care facility by 7,000 square feet, the first expansion since the facility was built in 1978.
“We have a lot of state-of-the-art equipment we just need a facility to put it in,” said veterinarian Dr. Alexis Moreno.
She and her team care for all animals in the zoo out of the existing building which has three rooms and a quarantine area to care for animals and a total area of 3,000 square feet.
“I just did surgery on an ostrich last week, and you can imagine what that was like in that room.”
The pharmacy holds blood testing equipment and cages. The x-ray machine is in the operating room. And Moreno’s interns work in a cramped conference room.
Since 2012, Nancy Schlegel and the Reid Park Zoological Society have raised millions to pay for the project as the zoo works to bring more animals, like hippopotami, to Tucson. The total cost is expected to be $3.85 million.
“We can’t do that without the infrastructure behind that for the care of the animals and this is a key to us being able to continue to grow the zoo,”
Schlegel says the plans are about 99 percent complete and it still needs to raise a little less than one million dollars. She expects construction will begin before next spring.
The facility will include new exam rooms, an expanded pharmacy, and an operating theatre so veterinary students can observe surgeries.
“It’s about taking great care of your animals, and if you take care of your animals, you can help but take care of your guest at the same time,” said Zoo Director Jason Jacobs.