Progress continues on new Kingdoms of Asia exhibit at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Brittany Jacob Image
Saturday, October 1, 2022
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Located in the heart of the zoo, guests will enter through what looks like the 7th wonder of the world -- large concrete temple themed after Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is starting to look different.

The beautiful outdoor space is being transformed to reflect parts of Southeast Asia's culture and wildlife.

While the gates are still up, families visiting the zoo try to gaze in for their own sneak peek.

"It took a lot of time and man, hours just to get to it," says Germayne Collado. It's like more paying attention to details, which is really nice to see."

But they're not the only ones getting a secret look.

On Friday Night, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo will host its annual benefit called Safari Night, opening its door to more than 500 guests to experience the zoo and the construction of the new, immersive exhibit Kingdoms of Asia.

Jon Dohlin is the zoo's CEO and says it will be a night to remember.

Located in the heart of the zoo, guests will enter through what looks like the 7th wonder of the world -- large concrete temple themed after Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Dohlin says the zoo had an advisory group from the Southeast Asian Community to ensure the exhibit was culturally accurate and respected.

While it's still under construction now, there will be a lush jungle landscape.

Plus, you'll be able to get face-to-face with the incredible wildlife.

"We will have sloth bears, Malayan tigers and orangutans," Dohlin said. "We are also adding things like king cobras, tomistomas, which are these giant fish-eating crocodiles. We are going to have small-clawed river otters and komodo dragons outside in this exhibit. It's going to be awesome."

Made possible through Measure Z, Kingdoms of Asia is scheduled to open in early 2023.

Dohlin is also unveiling the zoo's new masterplan and mission statement.

"We want to inspire people to care of animals, make connections, build community and save wildlife," he said.

Dohlin says the Zoo is a premier regional destination welcoming, hundreds of thousands of visitors.

In celebration of the near 100 years of service to the Valley, Dohlin will also launch the zoo's Centennial Campaign.

"The reason why people support us so well is because they understand not only are we continuing to transform the zoo, but we are actually bolstering the economic vitality of this entire region," he said.

While Safari Night may be sold out, you can still support the zoo with your donations or by attending Zoo Boo on October 13. For more information, click here.