Fundraising for the Cougar Exhibit and Welcome Center to be built at Wildwood Zoo is nearing completion.
A total of $700,000 has been committed toward the $500,000 building and $200,000 water education display inside, according to Parks and Recreation Director Justin Casperson. However, donors are still needed and should contact him if interested in making a contribution, including toward a specific part of the project, by calling (715) 384-4642.
The project will go out to bid in January and is expected to be completed by July 1, 2019.
Located near the most used area of the zoo, the cougar exhibit will be almost ten times larger and incorporate natural surfaces like grass and gravel instead of concrete. Water from the roof will be channeled through the exhibit to create an ephemeral stream, and visitors can use scent tubes to entice the cougars. The internal exhibit will have six animal features including the oft-hidden box turtle and the honeybees.
Restrooms will be ADA-accessible and designed to accommodate high traffic. Small animal exhibits and a children’s interactive water feature about the water cycle are to be located inside the Welcome Center. Visitors will also be able to see the cougars’ handling area from inside the building and watch the zookeepers feed the animals. Thunder and Star have been residents at the zoo since 2008.
As the city’s top attraction, Wildwood Zoo’s continued development is seen as a positive way to support the local economy through recreation, tourism, and education.
Strong support and partnership for the project comes from community members Floyd and Pat Hamus, along with Charlotte Kruse, Marshfield Utilities, Groundwater Guardians, City of Marshfield, Marshfield’s Economic Development Board, and the Wildwood Zoological Society.