Last week, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee County Zoo announced a new plan to transform the zoo over the course of the next couple decades.
The project – called Window to the Wild – will be the biggest since the zoo moved to its current location from Washington Park in 1962.
The first phase is Adventure Africa, which will completely remake the areas that are home to the zoo's elephants, rhinos, hippos and African hoofstock.
That project has begun with the redesign and reconstruction of the elephant exhibit. The new exhibit will include reuse of the former wolf lodge as a new education center.
The much larger area will also have enough room for up to five elephants, which means the zoo – which is home to two elephants – could add more animals to the exhibit, though there are currently no plans to do that.
By the time the Zoological Society publicly announced the fundraising campaign for Adventure Africa, nearly $17 million of its $25 million commitment had already been raised.
According to a press release issued last week, "The Window to the Wild Capital Campaign is possible because of the strong partnership between Milwaukee County and the Zoological Society, which historically has shared the cost on major projects. As a partner with Milwaukee County, the Society has set a goal to raise $25 million for its portion to support Adventure Africa."
We stopped in to take a look at the progress of that initial phase. Here's what we found...
The current elephant area
Construction of the new elephant area
Former wolf lodge will become an education center for the elephant exhibit
The skyglider is a great way to see the progress
So is this porthole
The Beastie Safari is helping to raise funds
Some other recent zoo additions include:
The new otter exhibit
A new west entrance and parking lot
Zoo spelled backward is cheese
A new bear garden
A baby harbor seal born early this morning!
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.