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East Idaho zoos getting ready for their opening days

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Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — Zoo Idaho in Pocatello and the Idaho Falls Zoo are prepping for their opening days!

Both zoos have been closed through the winter months and will open offering new things to see and do in both parks.

Zoo Idaho

Zoo Idaho opens Saturday, April 3, and will feature plenty of new changes.

“We are still working on our wetland exhibit, so you will see that construction up on our second level,” Zoo Idaho Education Curator Rachael Shearouse told EastIdahoNews.com. “Our next new exhibit we’ll be working on will be a grey wolf exhibit that’s going to be across from the elk. This summer, we’ll also be updating our raptor mews (lofts) so there may be some construction on the lower level around there.”

Other coming additions include a pollinator garden that will feature native plants and attract honeybees, butterflies and other insects and will go into construction in May. This garden is possible thanks to funding from the Zoo Idaho Zoological Society (ZIZS) and a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

The zoo is also working on a new entryway and gift shop. Funded by donations from Connections Credit Union and the ZIZS, the building will feature a log cabin design and house not only a gift shop but also ticketing and concessions areas, along with restrooms. The new building is scheduled for completion in June.

Zoo Idaho is also offering some exciting educational programs.

“For the month of May, we are doing a climate science series Thursday at 5:30 pm at the zoo,” Shearouse said. “We also have our annual Earth Day clean-up scheduled for Saturday, April 24 at 9 a.m. Then, in May, we’ll be starting our raptor program, Saturdays at 11 a.m. Those are really fun because you’ll get to meet our birds of prey up close and learn some cool facts about them.”

With COVID-19 still a concern, Zoo Idaho is taking measures to protect visitors.

“We are encouraging people to stay in their family groups,” Shearouse said. “You do not need a mask if you’re with your family group and in the outside area. But if you’re in close contact with other groups, we encourage using your mask. We do have 25 acres to spread out in the zoo and currently, we’re running at 25% capacity, which means we can still have a max of 3,000 people in at a time. So we have plenty of room to spread out.”

Hand sanitizer will also be available near the zoo entrance. For more information about hours of operation, events and educational programs, visit the Zoo Idaho website.

EastIdahoNews.com

Idaho Falls Zoo

The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park is scheduled to open for the season on Saturday, April 10.

“Since we’re a seasonal zoo, we always love the spring because it gives us the opportunity to gear up and get everybody excited to come back and meet some new animals,” said Idaho Falls Zoo Public Engagement Curator Sunny Katseanes.

Exciting additions include a new baby camel, as well as the return of a much-beloved zoo resident.

“(The baby camel’s) name is Liam,” said Katseanes. “He’s a little Bactrian camel. He was actually born on St. Patrick’s Day. He is out in the exhibit on the northwest end with his mom, so everyone will be able to see him. Also, Marvin the red panda that was born at the zoo back in 2019 has returned and he is now in the red panda exhibit with his new mate, Linda.”

Another new addition is a self station near the African Penguin exhibit.

“We’ve got models of each of the seventeen types of penguins that are found on Earth and people will have the opportunity to pose with the little statues for some fun selfie opportunities.”

Katseanes also said that the penguin exhibit is undergoing a remodel that will change up the windows and fencing to give people new perspectives from which to view the penguins.

Zoo staffers are excited to bring back opportunities like their summer camps this summer.

“Needless to say, last year we had to cancel (summer camps), as well as most of our special events and our fundraisers and our penguin interaction program and so forth. We are bringing all of those back this year. We may be looking at limiting some numbers, however, we’re just excited those programs are going to be able to resume.”

As for special precautionary measures to deal with COVID-19, Katseanes said the zoo is following guidelines set forth by the city of Idaho Falls and Eastern Idaho Public Health.

“If people are wonder ‘Should I wear a mask?’ or ‘What do I need to do?’, they really should visit Eastern Idaho Public Health and see what the guidelines are for the county and see if the city has any specific guidelines,” said Katseanes.

For more information on educational opportunities, events or to register for programs, please visit the Idaho Falls Zoo website.

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