Cougar Exhibit and Welcome Center to Begin Construction

High Bids Lead to Project Cutbacks

Wildwood Zoo’s cougars will soon have a new home.

Construction for the cougar exhibit and welcome center at Wildwood Zoo will commence next week pending approval from the Common Council and contract completion.

A groundbreaking date has not yet been determined. The target finish date for the project is October 11.

The $651,111 bid from Marawood Construction was approved this week by the Board of Public Works this week out of four bids. This bid amount was reduced from the initial amount of $1,024,520 to $700,347 by selecting a different type of fencing and then ultimately to $651,111 through value engineering options. The original fundraising amount for the project was $500,000.

“One of the [fencing] options was 16 foot straight post, a second option was a 14 foot bent post like what you see at the bear exhibit, then the third option was self enclosed mesh netting. That was the option we preferred, but it was also the most expensive option,” said Justin Casperson, Parks & Recreation Director. “Obviously if the costs had been favorable we would have gone with that option, but we had to cut costs in certain areas where we could.”

The 16 foot straight post will likely be the selection for the exhibit.

A budget increase from $700,000 to $800,000 was approved by the Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee to accommodate the bid. The City will increase its contribution to $340,000 using a surplus in the room tax fund ($50,000) and the Braem Park Tennis Court Project ($40,000).

“The monies that were allocated for the Braem Park tennis court were not enough to repair or replace it. It was just a small portion of that cost. It was to be set aside, and used for that project down the road,” Casperson said. “For the next two years our department is probably going to be focused on the cougar exhibit and the pool, trying to get those projects to the finish line. Braem Park is a large project that requires a lot of attention and won’t get the attention it needs until after pool construction in 2021.”

A total of $460,000 for the cougar exhibit and welcome center will come from private donations. An additional $10,000 is being raised privately through Marshfield Area Community Foundation.

The planned cougar exhibit will be ten times larger than the current facilities with more natural surfaces and an animal handling area for the public to view the cougars. The welcome center will include ADA accessible restrooms, an internal exhibit of various small animals, and an interactive water education exhibit like the kind found in children’s museums.

Cougars Thunder and Star, both 11, first came to the zoo in the fall of 2008.

Opening of Zoo Welcome Center and Cougar Exhibit Moved to September