"It was magical because of the time we spent exploring the natural world," said Lindsay, executive director of the
To replace some of that lost magic, Minnesota Zoo supporters broke ground Tuesday on a 30,000-square-foot nature-based outdoor play area. The
The privately funded play area will include climbing boulders, caves, slides and tree-top towers. The zoo plans to open the Hanifl Family Wild Woods in 2015.
"It's phenomenal," said
The more children enjoy the natural world, the more likely they are to support conservation efforts that are at the core of the zoo's mission, Lindsay said.
"It is really about how we connect kids with nature," she said.
The state-owned facility has spent years raising private funds and lobbying for taxpayer money to improve existing exhibits and build new attractions. Last month, the zoo opened its privately funded Conservation Carousel, which is adjacent to the Wild Woods park.
The zoo also received
In 2012, the zoo wrapped up a six-year "Heart of the Zoo" fundraising campaign that brought in
In late 2012, the zoo's board approved a master plan that included a list of ambitious new projects, including play spaces and new animal exhibits. Zoo leaders are now working to determine which of those projects to focus on.
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