CHIPPEW A FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- A group of animals at Irvine Park is closer to getting a new home as the Chippewa Falls Parks Department Board approved final design for several new buildings at the zoo.
The Parks, Recreations and Forestry Department says the upgrades have been talked about for more than 20 years. The new 'state of the art' facility is going to replace the current small mammal and bird building, which Parks and Rec says is way overdue.
“It's definitely time for an upgrade,” said Parks, Recreations and Forestry Department Director Dick Hebert.
The small mammal building which serves as the entrance to the zoo will be replaced by the new Welcome Center, Small Mammal Exhibits and Aviary.
“These animals deserve bigger and better cages and better facilities,” said Hebert.
A new home for several dozen of small animals and birds will cost around 2.3 million dollars, fundraising for which is going to start in the near future.
“It’s not only the animals but our staff deserve a better working environment,” explained Hebert.
“I think it's going to be the best thing that happened here,” said Irvine Park Zookeeper Jennifer London.
London has worked at the zoo for 14 years. She says the facility is several decades old and does not function well anymore.
“The are a little bit antiquated, they're basically dog kennels; the new ones will have some structure, they'll have some rock, they’ll be easier kept and more efficient,” explained Hebert.
London says with the upgrade the community will also see a big difference when visiting the free-zoo.
“It will definitely be easier for people to view the animals; in the new facility there will be bigger cages,” said Hebert.
The new building will also make room for display of the artifacts that are currently in storage at the zoo.
“So we'll be able to once again exhibits that have been donated to Irvine park,” added Hebert.
London says current small mammal building is not insulated.
She says new facility will be more efficient in terms of water and electricity costs and will be easier to keep up.
CBS Squared, Inc. is constructed for the project.