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Zoo Idaho unveils 20-year improvement plan: what could we expect?

As Zoo Idaho prepares for its free admission day, it is also seeking public comment on its 20-year improvement plan. The plan was presented before the Pocatello City Council and received positive feedback.

Zoo Idaho superintendent Peter Pruett says its first project, the wetlands exhibit, is already under construction. It should be finished within the next few years and will be home to trumpeter swans. In addition, Pruett has a lot more planned for Zoo Idaho.

“If you look at our zoo, there are a few critical areas we need to work on and improve, and that’s some of our priority projects,” Pruett said.

The black bear exhibit, just north of Homestead, is one of the zoo’s most popular attractions and among its top priorities.

“We don’t want to meet minimum regulations, we want to meet maximum regulations and exceed those. So, our black bear exhibit is one of our priority projects. It needs to be fixed,”Pruett said.

The bears will have more space to roam, actual dirt to walk on and a pool. At the same time, the zoo also wants to improve the roaming experience for visitors.

“We don’t have a nice, convenient way to get to the upper level. So we need to look into how we can fix our pathways, widen the pathways and create some really nice flow on it,” Pruett said.

So far, the city seems to be on board.

“There’s a $3 million price tag on this 20-year project, which is really reasonable for the level of improvements for what you can get out of that for a 20-year period,” Pocatello Parks and Recreation Director John Banks said.

Improvements would be funded by the city, through the zoo’s operating budget, the zoological society and fundraisers. However, for now, public input is the first step to making this all possible.

“We want the community’s opinion because it’s not the city of Pocatello’s zoo. It’s the community’s zoo, and the community needs to have input on the future of their zoo,”Pruett said.

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