“Immediately, you’ll be able to arrive on the zoo, you stroll in, and also you’ll see prairie canines and a snowy owl,” Fowler mentioned. “However that’s all you see in a 15-minute stroll from the entrance gate to the principle a part of the zoo. So it’s our job now to show our consideration to the entrance a part of the zoo.”
Whereas some enhancements to parking are being funded by the state, the zoo nonetheless wants to lift funds for a lot of of its different plans, together with a number of the new habitats and buildings, Fowler mentioned.
The grasp plan didn’t embrace a price ticket for all of the proposed enhancements. The imaginative and prescient consists of growing a brand new Gateway Constructing close to the entrance gate, more likely to function indoor and outside habitats for amphibians and reptiles, together with doable new additions like a Gila monster and Asian water monitor, in accordance with the grasp plan. The aim is to assemble the constructing round 2029.
That constructing additionally may showcase the zoo’s work with the Panamanian golden frog, Fowler mentioned. The zoo is a number one establishment working to reintroduce the frogs to their native habitat.
“Many individuals have no idea we have now that crucial position,” Fowler mentioned. “Having a Gateway Constructing that displays our work with reptiles and amphibians is essential.”
Simply throughout from the brand new constructing might be a brand new exhibit for gibbons, small apes recognized for utilizing their lengthy arms to swing from tree to tree. Such an exhibit may embrace 4 islands separated by water and related by ropes overhead, which the gibbons may use to navigate between them. In response to the grasp plan, the exhibit might be constructed in 2025.
“A few of these animals had been zoo favorites a decade or two in the past, just like the gibbon — and we need to deliver these again,” Fowler mentioned. “Their name is, for my part, stunning. It’s loud, however they’re enjoyable primates to watch.”
The zoo additionally hopes to reinvigorate its Important Valley, an space adjoining to the park entrance that was closed to company for 17 years earlier than reopening in 2021, partially as a spot to view outdated animal enclosures.
The zoo plans to maintain a few of these outdated enclosures for historic functions but additionally add new habitats to the world, together with a raptor habitat highlighting the Steller’s sea eagle. The outdated elephant home, which hasn’t housed animals in additional than 20 years, could be renovated as an occasion and training house.
The zoo additionally hopes to enhance company’ experiences within the coming years by including expertise options equivalent to a ropes course or zip line, a mission pegged for 2026.
Later this yr the zoo plans to start work to enhance and increase its parking areas for company, in accordance with the grasp plan. The plan described the prevailing parking space as “undersized,” including that “on account of potholes and ruts, the floor has grow to be difficult upon which to stroll, drive, or push a stroller or wheelchair.”
The zoo has secured state funding to implement a brand new storm water administration system within the parking space, beginning within the spring of 2023, to higher management water flowing off the lot and towards the Jones Falls, in accordance with the grasp plan.
“It’s not as thrilling as bringing new species and habitats to the zoo, however we’ve had lots of complaints about our car parking zone,” Fowler mentioned.
The zoo additionally hopes to make sustainability enhancements within the years forward, together with by including a greenhouse to develop sure meals gadgets on-site, rising composting and decreasing the vitality use of its buildings, Fowler mentioned.
The zoo already instituted a “no idling” coverage for autos pushed by workers and began a relationship with the Compost Crew to compost a few of its meals waste, Fowler mentioned. The zoo has a aim of changing into “zero waste” by 2025.
The zoo’s newly launched grasp plan consists of quite a few initiatives targeted on workers.
The zoo is trying to find a director of variety, fairness, entry and inclusivity, who would consider the zoo’s capacity to draw various employees members and company. It is usually evaluating its worker compensation, Fowler mentioned.
The grasp plan additionally consists of the development of latest workplace house for workers, together with a constructing close to its African Journey space.
“We’ve received workers who work in these 20-year-old trailers which might be in actually dangerous situation,” Fowler mentioned. “In order that’s one of many necessary tasks.”
Some animals, such because the snowy owl and eagle, are poised to obtain new habitats within the coming years, per the grasp plan. The zoo’s eagle, who beforehand suffered neurological accidents, doesn’t fly a lot, however she is “beginning to glide,” Fowler mentioned.
“Let’s see the place she goes after that, so we need to present a greater and bigger habitat for her,” he mentioned. That might occur subsequent yr.
The zoo’s grizzly bears additionally may see their habitat expanded, in accordance with the grasp plan. A path could be added connecting them to extra open-air habitat house, the plan states. That might occur in 2026.
It’s a cautious stability, Fowler mentioned, between enhancing the livelihoods of the creatures already within the zoo’s care and dealing so as to add extra animals.
“We’ve received to maintain a few of our current animals, however it’s thrilling to be occupied with new species and habitats,” Fowler mentioned.