Niabi Zoo Opens

March  11, 2013

     The 50th anniversary season opens today for the Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley.  Director, Marc Heinzman, says one of the major projects during the off-season was expanding the elephant enclosure - because of the weather it's not quite finished, but should be soon.

     "We took some un-used space - the old driveway to the zoo we weren't using since we built the new parking lot, and added on to the outdoor habitat for the elephants. It's gone from about 10,000 square feet to just over 33,000 square feet."

     And his next goal is to expand the size of Babe and Sophie's indoor space so there'll be enough room for three elephants at the zoo.

     Heinzman says each year one of the "big draws" at Niabi is the new babies born during the winter.

     "We have a baby monkey that was born just a couple of months ago - a black and white colobus. And we also had a zebu born last week. Zebus are a type of cow originally from Asia so they're smaller than the typical cow you might see in the US, but have really cute little babies."

     Back for another year at the Niabi Zoo will be train and carousel rides, various special events like Boo at the Zoo at Halloween, and the daily giraffe feedings - for a small fee you can hand feed the giraffes at the zoo. And due to rising costs, admission prices have been raised slightly from last year.  First opened in 1963, Heinzman says the zoo has changed a lot in 50 years, and may not even be recognizable to someone who hasn't visited in just ten years.