By HANNAH SMUTNY
Wild wallabies—the Salisbury Zoo will unveil their newest fluffy addition this June when the small marsupial arrives to headline their new Australian Walk-About exhibit.
The opening of the new exhibits is a part of a larger project called “Renew the Zoo,” a $3 million campaign focused on bettering the infrastructure of the zoo. The new animals and exhibits are hoped to reinvigorate public interest in the small but free zoo.
This summer, the Salisbury Zoo will be unveiling their Australian Walk-About exhibit that is set to feature wallabies, aviaries and a new reptile enclosure.
The zoo is hoping to draw bigger crowds and more public interest than it has in past years, despite claiming a 300,000 annual visitor rate. The main exhibit featuring wallabies is scheduled to be finished in mid-June while the William E. Morgan Conservation Center is not set to be finished until later this July.
Dave Williamson, the lead zoo keeper, says the exhibits will feature four wallabies, two aviaries as well as a new conservation center set to house a reptile center near the zoo’s entrance. Williamson said that he believes the wallaby exhibit will be the most popular of the new animals and will attract the most attention.
“It’s going to bring people out that don’t normally visit because it’s been a while since we’ve had new exhibits,” Williamson said.
Head of Marketing and Development at Salisbury Zoo Mary Seaman said the William E. Morgan Conservation Center may take until late July to complete.
As for why the Conservation Center will take longer than the other exhibit to be completed, Seaman noted several details that may lead to a longer construction period.
“There are going to be some water features and other details for the exhibit,” Seaman said.
Summer Manning, a junior at Salisbury University, said that she had previously visited the zoo twice and enjoyed the setting and seeing the animals there. Manning said that she had heard about the upcoming exhibits from a roommate who frequently visits the zoo with a girl she nannies.
“I got to see the zoo keeper feeding the Jaguar when I went,” Manning said. “I like that [the zoo keepers] are personable and care about the animals, especially because it’s a non-profit.”
A senior at Wor-Wic Community College, Caitie Cain, was excited to hear about the new animals coming to the Salisbury Zoo. While Cain lives in Salisbury, when asked about attending the zoo, she said that she had never been there.
“No—to be honest I thought you had to pay to go there,” Cain said. “They’re probably going to be really popular with cute animals like wallabies.”
Zoogoers had mixed opinions on the new developments at the zoo, some not knowing what was even being done. Lindsey Van Niekerk, who was attending the zoo with her daughter, said she visits the zoo a lot but did not know what was being changed at the zoo.
“I didn’t even know what was happening, but that’s what I was just trying to figure out,” Van Niekerk said.
A couple, Amanda and Kyle Willink, who were attending the zoo with their son said that they visit the zoo weekly during the summertime and are expecting the wallabies to be very popular. The couple said that they enjoy the zoo as somewhere to get out and walk around while learning about animals.
“When he was really little, our son liked the ducks best, but I think he’s going to like the new birds in the aviaries,” Mrs. Willink said.