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Fort Wayne Children's Zoo preparing for start of 58th season

Zach Bernard/WBOI News

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is set to open for its 58th season this weekend.

Visitors will notice changes almost immediately with a freshly painted and re-designed entrance, and the standing red “ZOO” artwork is now multi-colored.

The Indonesian Rainforest entry room has been reimagined, showcasing turtles and a 16-foot reticulated python. The Saki monkeys and Agouti (ah-JOO-tee) also have a new permanent home across from the North American river otters.

Construction will continue this year on Red Panda Ridge, which is expected to be completed in the middle of 2023.

Last year, two of the zoo’s tigers tested positive for COVID-19; they have recovered and are active at the zoo once again.

But this year creates a new challenge for the zoo to manage: an avian flu outbreak.

Executive director Rick Schuiteman says they’re being proactive and taking care of their bird species.

“All of our peafowl that used to wander the zoo, they’re actually back in the quarantine area, and for a lot of the other exhibits we’ll have signs out front that say ‘hey, we need to protect our animals and we have to wait for the warm weather,’” Schuiteman says.

He says he hopes this will happen in a couple of weeks.

Birthday parties are also returning to the zoo after a decade-long absence, and reservations are already being made for throughout the summer.

The zoo is in the midst of a soft opening for members; the grand opening for this season at the zoo will take place Saturday, April 30, and will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.