FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Fresno's Chaffee Zoo unveiled its brand new African Adventure exhibit last October but the zoo already has plans to expand even further.
It's easy to see why zoo personnel from Omaha, Fort Worth and Columbus have been so eager to visit and see what Fresno has to offer. But the Chaffee Zoo has already identified projects to add to the "wow factor." The African Experience in January alone helped give the zoo a 40-percent boost in attendance from a year ago. Raquel Gonzales of Bakersfield said, "You know what it's my first time here and I'm getting a kick out of seeing what I can see."
The shaded Kopje Lodge has been popular with visitors enjoying lunch or an early dinner and watching the animals eat. Here you can even feed Jabari the giraffe, who loves lettuce. Chaffee Zoo CEO Scott Barton said, "We get a lot of comments from people in our community saying that they feel like they're not in Fresno when they come out here."
So much to see from the wildebeest to the cheetah. But Barton's vision extended far beyond where the elephants roam. The zoo has plans to unveil a new African river exhibit with hippos and crocodiles in three years. Barton explained, "With the hippos we want to use the best ideas that are out there right now which are underwater viewing so you can see how graceful they are underwater and then massive crocs underwater as well."
Long before that happens though the tiger exhibit will get a major upgrade. "We're going to improve the homes for tigers and sloth bear here so we're going to do an Asian area. It won't be as large as Africa but it will be incredible."
Funds from Measure Z will pay for the planned additions. The 10th of a cent sales tax was extended by voters ten more years in 2014.
The Chaffee Zoo's long-term master plan will globally organize your visit and point you in the direction of animals from Africa, Asia, South America and Australia.