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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — A rumor about a potential zoo coming to north Alabama has been circling, and the board chairman says it is real.

“We are working very hard to bring a zoo to Huntsville,” says Ethan Woodruff, North Alabama Zoological Society Executive Director.

The idea of a zoo in the Tennessee Valley started when Woodruff went on a daddy-daughter date to the Birmingham Zoo. He says while they were watching the animals, he began watching other people watching the animals and wondered if they could bring the same thing back home.

About a year later, “A Zoo For You North Alabama” is going viral. Woodruff says in a week’s time, they got over 30,000 people seeing the Facebook page.

“They wrote to us, they said when I read this, I started crying I wanted this so bad,” says Woodruff. He adds selling the idea of a zoo is easy, but gathering the tens of millions of dollars is hard.

The board plans to work on the zoo and aquarium in phases, with the first phase costing the most. “The first phase will have things that are very needed in a zoo community,” says Woodruff. “Obviously, there are going to be restaurants and gift shops and those types of things but we also want to have an Alabama Wildlife area so that we can bring school field trips in.”

Before building anything, extensive research is done into other zoos, which is happening now. Because they are still in the planning phases, most details are still in the works such as where the zoo will be and what animals will be in it.

“We’re not settling on any specific set of animals right now because as plans solidify, that will allow us to know what better animals that we can support,” says Woodruff. He says one animal is for certain, though. “If we didn’t have a raccoon, I think north Alabama would kick us out.”

Because the North Alabama Zoological Society is a non-profit organization, Woodruff says the funds will come from donors and sponsorships. On their website, they say their mission is to create a world-class zoo and aquarium that:

  1. Will connect the communities and visitors of North Alabama with the world’s natural wonders
  2. Will be a standard of wildlife conservation action
  3. Will inspire a better tomorrow

Many residents of north Alabama have been sending the group plenty of questions over their website and Facebook page, so they have recently created a “Frequently Asked Questions” page.

“A Zoo For You North Alabama” is asking what you want to see in a local zoo. You can comment on posts or send them a message on their Facebook page or on their website.