Conservation Center opens at Salisbury Zoo

There are a few new residents coming to the Salisbury Zoo, living in the newly opened William E. Morgan Conservation Center.

The 1,300-square-foot building, which opened with a ribbon cutting this week, will be home to 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.

Zoo Director Ralph Piland said the new building will “open many doors for the Salisbury Zoo (and) allow the zoo to respond to a key expectation on the part of its guests-the opportunity to view reptiles.”

“While the zoo has presented reptiles to its guests periodically in the past it has never had the facilities necessary to support year-round viewing of these popular and unique creatures. The Morgan Conservation Center solves that challenge.

“The new center also dramatically expands the range of viewing experiences the zoo can offer its community. Guests will be exposed to a new and exciting range of creatures that carry important messages about our living world,” Piland said.

With 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, according to Mary Seemann, who handles marketing for the zoo.

The Conservation Center was part of Delmarva Zoological Society’s $3 million Renew the Zoo campaign, which raised money for three priority projects.

In the 1970s, the original A-frame structure that became the visitor center was a baby animal barn. In 1980 the building was remodeled into the visitor center with a gift shop, meeting room and space for educational programs.

The center was named for William E. Morgan, who “donated money to rebuild the old visitor center in the early 1970s,” Seemann said.

“His grandchildren donated money to rebuild it into a new building, which will house mostly reptiles and an area for our volunteers,” she explained.

“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.

“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.

Ground was broken in February, between the flamingo and tropical bird exhibits in the Tropics Trail.

Also at the zoo, 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 the year.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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