Ground was broken at the Salisbury Zoo last week for a new William E. Morgan Conservation Center, located between the flamingo and tropical bird exhibits In the Tropics Trail.
Planned is a 1,300-square-foot structure “standing in the same footprint as the old building,” which was a visitor center, explained Mary Seemann, director of marketing and development for the zoo.
Designed to include a fiberglass enclosed reptile exhibit and outside area for zoo docents and classroom activities, the building will also provide storage and space to prepare meals for zoo animals.
The Conservation Center was part of Delmarva Zoological Society’s $3 million Renew the Zoo campaign, which raised money for three priority projects, according to a news release.
Seemann said new animals that will be joining the zoo include a Panamanian golden frog, a species of toad from Panama that lives in streams along the mountainous slopes in west-central Panama; Caiman lizard; Plumed basilisk reptile; Jamaican iguana; and a mata mata, a freshwater turtle found in South America.
More will be added, she said.
The new Animal Health Care Clinic opened in 2014. Both the Australia Exhibit and Conservation Center are scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
“The William E. Morgan Conservation Center brings the city of Salisbury, the Delmarva Zoological Society and the Salisbury Zoo Commission together with Delmarva Veteran Builders and the Becker Morgan Group in a collaboration to replace the oldest structure on the grounds of the Salisbury Zoo,” Seemann said.
Representatives from Delmarva Veteran Builders and Becker Morgan architectural firm attended the Feb. 22 groundbreaking, as well as city and zoo officials.
“Building upon the recently approved master plan, the project hopes to both recognize the fond memories of past guests for their experiences in the Morgan Visitor Center as well as position the zoo to continue to engage and inspire Salisbury Zoo guests through unique living world encounters,” she said.
In the 1970s the original A-frame structure that became the visitor center was a baby animal barn. The doors opened to the outdoors with pens for the animals and a viewing area for zoo visitors. At one time the animal barn was home to Ollie, a baby elephant from Thailand.
In 1980 the building was remodeled into the visitor center with a gift shop, meeting room and space for educational programs.
The center name is in honor of William E. Morgan, who, Seemann said, “donated money to rebuild the old visitor center in the early 1970s.”
“His grandchildren donated money to rebuild it into a new building which will house mostly reptiles and an area for our volunteers,” she explained.
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