New habitats coming to Oregon Zoo

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Oregon Zoo’s parent, the Metro Council, Monday approved early-phase designs for new animal exhibits, educational facilities and sustainability measures funded by the $125 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008.

In the not-too-distant future, elephants will roam through a greatly expanded habitat of meadows, forest and pools. Polar bears will patrol a much larger territory. Chimpanzees and mandrills will swing above visitor pathways along overhead “treeways.”

The zoo hopes to begin construction on a perimeter road and new zoo train route in spring of 2013 in preparation for construction of the new 6-acre elephant habitat, beginning in autumn 2013.

Construction on a modern veterinary center, the zoo’s highest-priority bond project, began in November, and the center is expected to open in January. A new water-filtration and treatment system at the zoo’s Humboldt penguin exhibit is also nearly complete; the penguins, which have been living in one-half of the polar bear exhibit during construction, will return to their own habitat this fall. For more information on bond-funded projects and the zoo master plan, visit http://www.oregonmetro.gov/betterzoo.