The Brandywine Zoo is closed through the end of February for construction.
The work marks the start of the Wilmington zoo’s $13 million master plan.
“There’s going to be dump trucks moving old concrete out and things like that. And that’s preparing way for new exhibits that are planned for the future. And the very first one is we’re doing an updated goat contact area,” DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens.
Bivens says the master plan was approved by DNREC in December following public input sessions last summer. The plan is an attempt to increase zoo attendance — which has declined in recent years— and focus on smaller animals.
“Zoological practices and things change over time. The exhibit that was acceptable fifty years ago for bears is now not even acceptable for our small cats and things like that,” said Bivens.
The zoo transferred its tiger to another zoo in 2017 and lost its signature monkey house in 2013 after a tree fell on it.
“We want to excel in our niche area. We’re never going to compete with the Philadelphia zoo. But there’s going to be things you can do at the Brandywine Zoo that Philly could never offer because we’re so small,” said Bivens. “We have more chances for hands-on contact and great programming and things like that.”
The master plan will also bring an animal quarantine building and new species.
Regularly scheduled programs at the Zoo’s education building will continue throughout the construction period this February.
Bivens says construction will likely continue during the next few winter off-seasons.