Magnetic Hill Zoo hopes to create multi-million dollar African safari-themed expansion

At Moncton’s Magnetic Hill Zoo, there’s no shortage of things to see. From omnivores to herbivores, the zoo draws in hundreds of thousands of people every year.

The director of the zoo, Jill Marvin, hopes to create an even bigger draw by adding an African safari-themed expansion.

"We'll have African black-footed penguins in a new exhibit, then they will go off into the large Africa area, we have new habitats going up for our meerkats, for our tortoise...so that's phase one," says Marvin.

Marvin says phase one is estimated at $7.6 million and the goal is to have it completed by 2024.

“Sixty per cent of that is providing suitable habitats for our animals,” said Marvin.

The zoo is looking to collaborate with the city, and the federal and provincial governments, on the project.

On Monday, Moncton city council directed staff to gather further information, including an economic impact study, preliminary design, and detailed cost estimates, to be brought back during the upcoming 2022 budget deliberations.

“They understand how this is a value to our region, it’s a value to tourism, to our social pillar, and a great opportunity for people to get outdoors,” says Marvin.

If approved, it would allow the zoo to expand and renovate current animal exhibits, while adding new exhibits for species like penguins and meerkats.

Over time, the project would include additional indoor habitats for animals that can’t be exposed to colder temperatures, which will also extend the number of months that the zoo can be open.

The second phase is estimated to cost $11.2 million and has several elements, including providing the flamingos and otters with new habitats. Marvin says they’d like to see that completed by 2027.

“It will give an opportunity for our visitors to go out into some of our enclosures with our herbivores.”

Marvin says the third phase will include a new events building and exhibits to house red river hogs and a giraffe.

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