WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — A Watertown attraction is getting a big boost from an anonymous donor.
The Bramble Park Zoo will add a new facility on the grounds thanks to a $1 million gift.
Zoo Director Dan Miller says about 60,000 people visit each year, and more than 30 percent of those visitors are traveling more than 50 miles to get there.
While the new building won’t be open to the public, it will help strengthen the zoo’s future.
The money will go towards an animal care building, something Miller says the zoo needs to maintain its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
What exactly would losing accreditation mean?
“Well, I think what we could do is we could lose a lot of our high-profile animals, which come from other accredited zoos,” Bramble Park Zoo Director Dan Miller said.
Some of the highlights of the new building include a vet area and a quarantine.
“With our quarantine facility and so forth it’s just going to help us protect the collection that we have through quarantine, and also it allows us to move animals into that area when there’s a sick animals and get them away from our existing collection,” Bramble Park Zoo General Curator Jim Lloyd said.
The animal care building will also make it easier to feed all the mouths at the zoo.
The new kitchen will be about four times the size of the current kitchen here at the zoo. That will give staff more room to prepare meals for hundreds of animals.
“It’s huge for us because we’re going to be able to provide quality animal care at a really high level way easier than we were before,” Lloyd said.
“It’s a very exciting time here in zoo land,” Miller said.
The zoo will also be able to hire a new zookeeper, thanks to a $90,000 grant from the Watertown Area Community Foundation, which was another recommendation from the AZA.