Bronx Zoo rolls out two new buildings

The Bronx Zoo is getting two new buildings that will house some of the friendliest animals on earth.

On Wednesday, October 6 the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo broke ground on LaMattina Wildlife Ammadador Center, which will house a collection of aniamals including giant tortoises and other friendly animals.

Zoo management hopes to provide “close encounters with wildlife ambassadors” to visiting school children and others in the zoo’s educational programs.

The new 10,000 square foot building, will be LEED-certified Silver, will house the collection that has outgrown its home at the Zebra House.

At the same time, the zoo also broke ground on a building called the Special Care Unit of the Global Center for Wildlife Health, which will serve as a medical treatment and quarantine center for animals being shipped to the zoo from overseas.

The special unit is designed to exceed the regulatory requirements of the United States when it comes to bringing over animals from abroad, said WCS president and CEO Steve Sanderson.

“The LaMattina Wildlife Center will provide opportunity for people to experience wildlife up close, creating lasting impressions,” Sanderson said. “The Special Care Unit for Global Health will enable us to continue the tradition of setting the gold standard for animal care.”

Senators Ruth Hassell Thompson, who donated $750,000 to the projects, and Jeff Klein, who gave $100,000, both spoke at the dedication.

Thompson called the zoo her favorite place, while Klein remarked that since the zoo is a destination for tourists from around the world, it should represent the Bronx by providing animals with world-class health care. He said this space is especially important in the Bronx, where the biggest industry is health care.

“I think that everyone knows the Bronx is about healthcare, and that should extend to animals as well,” Klein said. “I wanted to make sure that they had a state-of-the-art facility.”

The LaMattina Wildlife Amabssador Center received funding from John and Mary LaMattina, The Bodman Foundation, New York State Senate, New York City Council, and The Starr Foundation.

The Special Care Unit of the Global Center for Wildlife Health received funding from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York State Senate, New York City Council, and The Starr Foundation.

The buildings will be built side-by-side near Southern Boulevard. Construction on both facilities is expected to take 18 months.

Paul Calle, director of zoological health for WCS, said that he believes the new medical facility for animals will nicely complement the zoo’s existing Wildlife Health Center, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“The new center will help us to separate animals if there are any concerns of a contagious disease,” Calle said.

“It’s like when we bring our children to the doctor. We perform preventative medicine. And if the animals are sick, it also provides facilties for us to address those issues.”

More from Around NYC