Irvine zoo receives $100,000 for improvements, looks to raise more

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Chippewa Falls, WI (WEAU) -- An area zoo has received $100,000 that will go towards a $3 million improvement project.

The Chippewa Falls city council is giving the money to the Irvine Park Zoo so it can build a new welcome center, upgrade some of its animal enclosures, and create a new small mammal exhibit.

The new building would have a 22,700 square foot welcome center, a 1,400 square foot artifact space,
And a 9,400 square foot zoo exhibit for small birds and animals but before construction begins the rest of the funds will have to be raised.

Which is why Dick Herbert, the Chippewa Falls director of the city parks, is trying to raise $3 million for the park building. Herbert says, "So far this is a smooth process because the entire community has been supportive and the entire community is behind this project."

The Chippewa Falls city council decided to spend $100,000 towards the new zoo building, Mayor Greg Hoffman originally proposed $250,000 but Herbert says $100,000 is a great start.

Herbert says, “I'm very confident that we will be able to raise the $3 million. With this $100,000 it shows our community that the mayor, the council and the city is behind this project and is willing to support the project.”

Herbert says the rest of the money will more than likely come from donations. He says, “We will have marketing materials in September, then people can find out how they can donate. It's probably going to be about a year to raise the funds. Hopefully after a year we'll start demolition of this facility, so possibly September of 2015.

Herbert says the new building will include a facility for small mammals, which he says is to give the animals the better living conditions they deserve, and visitors like Doug Forrest agrees the improvements are beneficial. Forrest says, “Most definitely. Anything to better the zoo and give a better place for the kids to come out”

Herbert says after a community assessment study of, what he says are, about thirty of the key stakeholders for the project the response was found to be extremely positive. And, Herbert says that bodes well for the future of the project.

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