The Buffalo Zoo has been awarded a grant of $500,000 as part of the funding package received by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.
The grant, from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will be applied to the $2.5 million renovation of the zoo's historic Reptile House. Designed by Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" host and renowned zoologist Marlin Perkins, the renovated exhibit space will soon become the zoo's new Amphibian and Reptile Center.
Two new conservation pods within the main exhibit gallery will showcase the Buffalo Zoo's ongoing work breeding endangered amphibians. A large habitat enclosure will also bring a new species to the Buffalo Zoo, as Komodo dragons will be exhibited here for the first time.
Buffalo's Reptile House was considered one of the best in the country when it first opened in 1942; however, the exhibits and holding areas have deteriorated significantly over the past 70 years. The Buffalo Zoo is committed to preserving the interior brick walls and brass railings of the historic building, but plans to replace all of the animal exhibits and renovate the building's holding rooms and support areas.
The existing animal enclosures will be replaced by 20 self-contained habitats and three built-in habitats to modernize the facility and provide state-of-the-art exhibitory. The new habitats will be fully fabricated reproductions of nature using castings, artistically sculpted elements, and live plant material, and include individualized environmental control.
The renovation project includes a new roof, skylights and major upgrades to the mechanical and life support systems. The new Amphibian and Reptile Center will provide significant environmental improvements for the entire herpetological collection to ensure the sustainability of the Buffalo Zoo's colonies of endangered species, including animals to be reintroduced into the wild.