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Money for Como

Published (3/13/2009)
By Sonja Hegman
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Gorillas at the Como Zoo could have more room to roam.

Sponsored by Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), HF820 would provide $11 million in bond proceeds for construction and infrastructure improvements at the St. Paul zoo.

Michelle Furrer, campus manager for the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, told the House Cultural and Outdoor Resources Finance Division March 9 the money would protect jobs of people currently working on the Polar Bear Odyssey exhibit that is expected to open in the spring of 2010. Upon its completion, those workers would immediately start work on the zoos next project, Gorilla Forest.

Both projects will provide habitats suitable for the animals. The Polar Bear Odyssey will emulate a Hudson Bay ecosystem complete with a stream, rocky cliffs and evergreen preservation. The exhibit has also received a major endorsement by Polar Bears International.

Gorilla Forest would allow gorillas to live in more of a family atmosphere. At 10,000 square feet, the space is two-and-a-half times larger than the current outdoor space. The smaller space of 2,000 square feet would be used for mothers with babies. Visitors will be able to see eye-to-eye with the gorillas. The project will provide 1,000 jobs.

The bill was approved and now awaits action by the House Capital Investment Finance Division. A companion, SF869, sponsored by Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), awaits action by the Senate Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Budget Division.

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