New Doors Opening at Peoria Zoo

By WEEK Reporter
By Denise Jackson

June 26, 2012 Updated Jun 26, 2012 at 7:37 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.-- Some new doors will open soon for visitors to the Peoria Zoo. The wraps are set to come off for a new entrance.

It's hard to miss the "Barton Pavilion" at the Peoria Zoo. Zoo officials hope the new entrance will give people a different perspective when they visit the facility.

"We want people to have access on this side of the zoo to food to restrooms, gift shop, so that they can move throughout the zoo and have access to things that they need to stay longer," said Peoria Park District Spokesperson Emily Cahill.

With 40 additional parking spaces outside the new entrance Cahill says there won't be a need to rush away. The old entrance will be turned into a tropical rain forest and include more animal exhibits. Three years ago the Africa exhibit opened and zoo officials hope to build on its success.

"with Africa we saw a tripling in attendance. We didn't expect it to last cause it doesn't. But now we're at least double of what we've been before. This year I think we're gonna go higher than that," said Peoria Zoo Director Yvonne Strode.

The next phase of work set to begin involves a children's museum at the zoo. It will be located inside the building which currently houses the administrative offices for the Peoria Park District. Once renovation starts it could take up to 18 months. Six exhibits will be displayed throughout the building . Zoo officials then expect the number of visitors to climb even higher.

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