Daily News from New York, New York on August 7, 1988 · 158
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Daily News from New York, New York · 158

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New York, New York
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 7, 1988
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158
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1 uU vtiO 3t DAILY NEWS, Sunday, August 7, 1988 M 1 r- : v; f J - I ar J is?! . i su 1. .-?-- .fc ftJali: -- A-aa- tVMni-rnli.rinl.ln .mi i....r. i i m ! i r ,1 PENGUINS have a new home in Central Park Zoo which will reopen tomorrow. New zoo cost $28 million and will be operated by the New York Zoological Society, pat cmmu tmv news By GUS DALLAS Daily News Staff Writer You think it's easy designing a zoo? It's no longer as simple as pitching an elephant and a lion and a couple of monkeys behind bars. No more bars, for instance; glass keeps people and animals apart, or moats separate them, or walkways keep people high above the animals. The new Central Park Zoo opens tomorrow in Manhattan, without cages and elephants and other big critters. Instead, there are penguins, black-and-white colobus monkeys and red-fronted macaws. The zoo was redesigned and renovated at a cost of $28 million, of which the city pays $21.8 million and $6.2 comes from private donors and the New York Zoological Society, which will take over operation of the zoo from the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. Animals relocated The society also will assume operation of the Flushing Meadows Zoo in Queens and the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn after they are rebuilt Groundbreaking for the Flushing zoo is expected to start soon, with the demolition of existing buildings. About 95 of the animals already have been relocated. The project will take up to three years at a cost estimated at $16 million, according to Parks Department spokeswoman Ivy Morrison. The new Prospect Park Zoo is still on the drawing boards. Construction may not begin for three years, and the present cost estimate is around $26 .million, she said. The Staten Island Zoo is maintained by the Staten Island Zoological Society and will not become part of the N.Y. society's network. Today's, zoos have been fashioned into educational tools, and zoo folks try hard to make visitors, especially Ctr znns are redesigned with imaginative touches a ' IITT 11 f J A I youngsters, as much a part of the ani mars environment as possible, according to the society's director of the City Zoos Project, Richard Latiss. More than that, he added, zoos are now involved with conservation. The society's plan is make the city zoos complementary rather than competitive, he said. "The Bronx Zoo has the large habitats. The Central Park Zoo will be a highly educational area that will emphasize conservation. Prospect Park will become a children's zoo. The Flushing Zoo will contain only North American animals. Our hope is that Brooklyn people will go to Flushing, and vice versa." Central Park Zoo exhibits will concentrate on teaching appreciation of animals and conservation, exhibiting such things as marmosets, snow monkeys and the colobus, which Latiss described as showing interesting behavior and facial expressions that are fun to watch "very similar to humans." There are also red-fronted macaws, an endangered species "that is doing quite well at the zoo," he said. The macaw, a vanishing Asian bird, is being practically bred back into existence by the society at a private breeding ground off the Georgia coast, SL Catherine's Island. Another fading animal that may be seen at the Central Park Zoo is the San Esteban Island chuckawallah, a Baja California lizard that the society hopes will propagate there. The society also hopes to breed the yacare ci-man at the zoo; that's a Paraguayan alligator that grows to a maximum of 7 feet. Zoos, frankly, are forced to main tain some reservoirs of wildlife," Latiss said. "Zoos and reservoirs (protected breeding areas) are the only remaining habitats for most endangered species. There is no way zoos can protect all the world's species, and with a home habitat destroyed by man, there is no place to return these species." The Pere David deer, from China, today is found only in zoos, he said. Luckier than most vanishing creatures are the Andean condors, only a few of which still survive in their South American home. They have been successfully bred in the Bronx and San Diego zoos and then released in the Andes. The Zoological Society made an agreement with the city in 1980 to take over the three run-down zoos after they were rebuilt The society supervised the reconstruction of the Central Park Zoo; the city will foot the bill for renovating the Prospect Park and Flushing Meadows facilities. Flushing Meadows Zoo was in the best shape of the city-owned zoos, Latiss said. There will be bison, black bears, wolves and birds that were there before and more species added, Latiss said, like sandhill cranes, pumas, bobcats and prairie dogs. "The wolves will stay, but fewer than the 13 that were there," he said. Wolves, like dogs, tend to pace back and forth, wearing out the grass, and they turned their small area into mud and dirt, he said. The zoo, which was built on filled swampland after the 1964-65 World's Fair, has been plagued by power fail ures. When the electricity went off a few winters ago, the heated moat surrounding the wolf area froze, and curious wolves trotted over the ice to mingle with shocked visitors. If it can be done after the rebuilt zoo is opened, Latiss said, he would like to create an exhibit building with small, nocturnal North American animals, like frogs, toads, bats, small rodents, snakes and lizards. The Prospect Park Zoo will be aimed at kids. The old elephant house will become an animal life styles house, where youngsters can see how animals live in caves, underwater or on the top of mountains. Another building will show children how a variety of animals adapt to a variety of environments, how they behave, seek food, reproduce and care for their young. A third building will exhibit the wild form of domestic pets. Keepers will answer questions about pet care and also advise that some exotic animals don't make good pets. The Central Park Zoo covers 5.5 acres and the Flushing Meadows and Prospect Park zoos each cover about 10 acres, compared to the Bronx Zoo's 265 acres. The Bronx Zoo's Wild Asia exhibit alone, on 40 acres, covers more ground than the three zoos combined. By the year 2000, zoos will be complete educational tools. "Nothing like seeing the real critter, compared to TV and movies," Latis said. "We need more people to push to protect animals. Tourists at our zoos can carry the education home, and children will learn to appreciate animals, learn not to fear snakes, learn that everyone and everything has a role in ecology. The new zoo aims at making a youngster part of the environment he said. "We want to allow the child to experience the animal's life style, to physically experience things," he said. Hea Estate JIH!5 .rim Mm

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