The Chinese Elm Tree took center stage Thursday morning, signifying a new beginning for the space, which will now be used for the "Spotted Neck Otters" exhibit.
City of Fresno employees and construction crews used a crane to bring in the tree and root it firmly in the middle of the 25,000 gallon pool. The tree is just one part of transforming this space.
Dan Subaitis, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo general curator said, "We're adding several large windows so that the smaller guests can see the animals without problems, getting nose to nose with them, and we've completely redone the pool, got rid of a lot of the cement, so we'll have a lot more vegetation in there for the animal, which will into only look a lot nicer but keep them cooler in the summer time."
During renovation, the otters are resting and relaxing at the zoo's hospital.
"Because the otters are so inquisitive and curious they should provide great viewing for our guests," said Subaiti.
Dan Subaitis, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo general curator said, "They are a little different than a North American river otter, a little bit smaller, but like I mentioned they are very active. This is a breeding pair so we hope to have a couple of litters as the years go. So we can share all of the cute little kids with our guests."
When construction is finished, the animals will start swimming around in their new digs. The exhibit is expected to open to the public in early March.
The African Otters come from the San Diego Zoo global program.