Abilene Zoo welcomes Caribbean animals of all sorts

Caribbean Cove now open at the Abilene Zoo

ABILENE, Texas - More than 30 animals native to areas surrounding the Caribbean Sea have a new home at the Abilene Zoo.

The Caribbean Cove exhibit was unveiled Thursday morning. Endangered species, such as the Cotton-top tamarin, are featured in the exhibit.

"The endangered species that we exhibit here at the zoo are part of managed breeding programs and it's to preserve the species," Zoo Director Bill Gersonde said. "Ultimately, the most important thing that we can do is to not only preserve those species but to educate the public so they will then support conservation of wildlife in wild places."

A two-toed sloth, caimans and tropical birds are also featured in the exhibit.

"There's lots of pretty animals and birds--it's neat that Abilene can have a new program like this," Tiffany Tacker, a visitor, said.

"This whole thing is really neat and we've enjoyed the animals--especially the new toucans--because they're bright and [my son] can see them really well," Robin, another visitor, said.

Gersonde said the new exhibit is a win-win for both the zoo and visitors.

"We took an area that was old, outdated--the sidewalks were in bad repair, unsafe, etcetera--and just revitalized it," Gersonde said. "Work was all done by zoo staff--a very dedicated and hard working group--they made it possible and of course it furthers our mission in being a regional leader in education and conservation and quality family entertainment."

The new exhibit also features a snow cone stand.

The zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except major holidays. Admission closes at 4:30 p.m. each day. Tickets are $5 for adults, $2.50 for children and $4 for senior citizens. Membership fees start at $30 and members are admitted free of charge. For more information, visit www.abilenezoo.org

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