Magnetic Hill Zoo finds new ways to fundraise for squirrel monkey enclosure

A group of squirrel monkeys at Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton, N.B. will soon have more space to monkey around thanks to upcoming renovations.

"Every one of them has their own personality," said Melanie Prince, a zookeeper at Magnetic Hill Zoo. "There's some that are very smart and enjoy puzzle feeders and enjoy trying to figure out new toys and new games."

The monkeys' home at the zoo will soon undergo renovations, with plans for a new indoor enclosure to be built beside their outdoor habitat.

"Where they spend their winters is way over on the other side of the zoo so, we have to wait until those temperatures are really, really good until we can bring them to their habitat out here," explained Jill Marvin, the director of Magnetic Hill Zoo.

The new enclosure, however, comes with a cost and COVID-19 public health restrictions are making it difficult to fundraise.

Tessa Wheaton, a board member for Friends of the Moncton Zoo, says the group had to think outside the box when it came to coming up with funds for the project.

"We always have such great turnaround from the community coming out to things like our winter openings or Boo at the Zoo, or the Wild Lights events, which is great, but when those went away, it was a bit of a struggle for us," said Wheaton.

The board decided to do a raffle box fundraiser, allowing people to purchase tickets online for prizes. They say 100 per cent of the proceeds will go directly to supporting the squirrel monkeys.

"This is our first experience with doing this so, it's a unique way to help us raise money for this new squirrel monkey habitat," said Marvin.

Prince says the new enclosure will do wonders for the monkeys' well-being.

"Even on rainy days in the summer, they'll have more areas that they can spend time in and they'll be able to interact with the public more as well, because there will be a big window that people can see them from when the weather is not ideal for them to go outside," said Prince.

The new habitat is expected to be open to the public by this fall.