Group begins fundraising campaign to bring zoo, aquarium to north Alabama

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An organization that wants to bring an accredited zoo and aquarium to the greater Huntsville area needs your help making their goal a reality. The North Alabama Zoological Society (NALZS) has begun a campaign to raise money and bring awareness with “A Zoo for You, North Alabama.” The organization is inviting everyone to be a “pal of NALS,” or NALZS Palz.

The six-week campaign is just the starting point of the fundraising goal of $6 million over the next 12 months. The initial funds will go towards finding the zoo’s location, facility design and planing, recruiting and establishing a research campus.

NALZS Executive Director Ethan Woodruff explained in a written statement, “To construct and open the first phase of the zoo and aquarium, we estimate we will need to raise a total of $30M.  This is based on figures from some recent zoo modernization and construction projects around the country.  But given the current economic happenings, it is unrealistic to try to raise the total amount this year.  Instead we feel $6M of that total amount is a good goal to go for.  This will get us the funds to purchase the all important site that everyone is asking about.  We are here to create a zoo and aquarium and are going to be aggressively chipping away at that $30M price tag until we get there.”

A 2020 Annual NALZS Palz Campaign website has been set up so the community can have the opportunity to learn more about the effort, share it with their friends, and provide a donation to help bring about “A Zoo for You North, Alabama”, www.aZooForYouNAL.org

Woodruff further explains,  “Creating a combination zoo and aquarium is not a quick process, although we are going to go as quickly as we can.  We are not only responsible for creating a great environment for our guests, but also for the precious animals in our care that we will be working to conserve. This will be the first zoo built from scratch in at least a couple of decades.  The zoo community is pretty excited about this.  Our plan is to be an AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited facility and start construction for our first phase in approximately 2-3 years.  But we are not waiting for the zoo to get out there and start making a difference.”

The plan for the completed zoo and aquarium calls for between 250-300 acres with 150 of those acres being for the public exhibit areas.  Plans also call for the rest of acreage to house a veterinarian hospital, wildlife rehab center, off-viewing barns and paddocks, greenhouses for sustainable food growing, and support buildings. 

Woodruff says he hopes to receive a land donation or long-term lease for the acreage in exchange for the option of property naming rights. If that doesn’t happen, NALZS will purchase land.

The estimated $30M Phase 1 of the project is set to include a domestic animal exhibit, Alabama wildlife exhibit, animals that have been in space exhibit, splash pad, antique carousel and carousel house, front entrance plaza with restaurants and stores, and event space.  Plans also include a park and picnic area outside the zoological park for gatherings

Facebook Live Information

The “A Zoo For You North Alabama” Facebook page will be live on Thursday night for a question and answer session. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. on September 17.

Anyone with questions can ask ahead of the event by leaving a comment on the FB post.

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