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Willow Park Zoo gets ready to welcome new animal exhibit

September 4th, 2014 Posted in Arts and Life

By Sierra Copeland

LOGAN — Willow Park Zoo workers can scarcely wait for Sept. 13, the day they’ll swing open the gates and reveal a new animal exhibit to the community. Staff and volunteers are bubbling with anticipation, ready to share the newest addition to the ever-evolving zoo, but are keeping the details hush-hush for now.

The zoo wants to continually add more animals and exhibits, something they call “continuous evolution.”  There are a lot of plans in the making, says animal trainer Rachelle Sidwell, but they depend on how much support the zoo can get from the community,

“Our job is to protect the animals and to teach people about these animals so they have a better understanding, so they will be more interested in taking care of them in the wild,” Sidwell said. “A lot of times people won’t protect what they don’t understand. People coming to the zoo helps a ton. The more people we can get to know that we are here the better off we are, and the more animals we can get and the more improvements we can make.”

“I love it here,” said Emily Kittle, a junior staff member. “I love being hands-on with the animals. It’s a small zoo, but it’s really good because you get a lot of more time with the staff and more time with the animals. There is a lot more of a homey feeling here.”

Zoo supervisor Troy Cooper has been working at the zoo for two years. “I was hired to help take the zoo to the next level. Build it, expand it, improve it.”

“We love it here,” he said. “I have been coming here since I was a little kid when my grandparents brought me. We have many generations of people who hold fun memories of the zoo.”

“The sense of community is different,” Sidwell said. “People here are allowed to help out more and in different ways than larger zoos. You get to come in and say ‘my son built that’, or ‘my friend helped with that’.”

Cooper said the four main responsibilities of Willow Park Zoo are recreation, conservation, education and scientific study. The improvements being made are to help enrich each of these responsibilities, he said. Some recent improvements include developing partnerships with Utah State University and the Boy Scouts of America. The zoo has also moved strictly to running off of donations, and no longer receives monetary help from Logan city.


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