The Fresno Chaffee Zoo has big plans for the future to make the zoo more enjoyable for guests and animals. There are four projects in the works that will be completed throughout the next couple of years.
The first project to be completed is the water play project. Already underway, this project will include a 9-foot-tall waterfall, a 70-foot-long creek, a 20-foot-tall lookout tower, a slide and water play areas, as well as a rest area. The purpose of the project is to provide a way for children to stay cool during the summer while also driving more traffic to the zoo on the really hot days. It will also have a shaded area for parents to relax and watch while children play. The project is expected to cost $3.1 million and to be finished later this year.
The current nutrition center was built about 70 years ago, so it is in need an expansion and update. The project will include a new walk-in fridge and freezer, dry storage, a large kitchen, industrial laundry, and break areas for the staff. It will also have several zoo offices and a studio apartment for staff who need to stay overnight for animals with an injury or who are giving birth.
Since some of the animals moved to the African Adventure area, there is room opening up to expand the Asia exhibit. The plan is to expand the enclosures for tigers, sloth bears, and other animals. One of the ideas is to have an elevated walkway for the tigers, allowing them to actually walk above zoo guests. The orangutan exhibit will also be getting an upgrade with shelter for the animals, artificial trees, and rock work, and heating and cooling to make the animals more comfortable. The Asia project is set to be completed in 2019.
There haven’t been hippos at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo for fifteen years, but that is going to change soon. The African River exhibit will be more than an acre featuring a 150,000-gallon hippo pool as well land for them to roam, a pool for Nile crocodiles, an area for Guenon – an African primate, spotted neck otters, and African birds. There will also be an underwater viewing area for the hippo. The last hippo that was at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo was Bulgy, who died in 2005. This project is expected to be finished in 2020.