FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – What’s new at the zoo?
A lot, actually.
For those who have visited for years, you may remember Monkey Island right as you walk into the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
Years ago, local schools raised money to build the original Monkey Island, but zoo officials decided it was time for an update.
For three years, that fixture has been boarded up and under construction.
About $6.7 million dollars later, a new moat, newer and taller trees, and a new rock structure with an employee building are situated on Monkey Island now.
“Monkey Island is a situation where the monkeys can do more natural monkey stuff, same deal with the otters…,” Executive Director Jim Anderson said.
“People like the tradition of the zoo. They like to come in here and feel like they kinda know it. We think people are going to go a little wild when they see it.”
This winter, keepers say Canada geese have taken over Monkey Island. Once the Capuchin monkeys were let loose in their new enclosure, keepers said there was a bit of a stand-off.
Now, the geese know to stay away while the monkeys are out.
The reason the moat works as a barrier is that monkeys can’t swim, and zoo officials say the rock face was designed so they can’t climb up it.
Beyond the much anticipated Monkey Island, the zoo also built a new underwater otter exhibit that features a couple of dig pits, a slide, a stream and big viewing tank for guests.
Zoo officials say it is 3-times bigger than the last.
New giant groupers Yindi and Miki are calling the zoo’s aquarium home, too.
The Indiana Family Farm also has new Flemish rabbits, Sienna and Dahlia.
The pair aren’t “giant” just yet, and weigh about 14 pounds. Keepers say these types of rabbits can grow as large as a Corgi dog.
One thing that might throw-off seasoned veterans at the zoo is the new location Croaky the Frog, Executive Director Anderson said.
Croaky the Frog has been in the same spot for 55 years.
This season though? You’ll have to do some walking to find him.
The zoo opens for the season this Saturday at 9 a.m., and officials hope to see more than 600,000 visitors this season.