Roger Williams Park Zoo management announced today that Hasbro's Our Big Backyard, a nature play and exploration exhibit for children and their families, will open this June 2012. The second phase of the exhibit, a New England animal collection, is slated to open in 2014.
Jack Mulvena, Rhode Island Zoological Society Executive Director, said "This major new exhibit area will offer the children and families of Rhode Island and Southern New England a fun outdoor experience unlike anything else in our region, one that we hope will lay a foundation for a lifetime appreciation for nature and wildlife."
Our Big Backyard will be the third of four major projects that comprised the Zoo's 2006 master plan. The two other projects completed in 2008 and 2011 are significant improvements to and expansion of the elephant and giraffe facilities and construction of a new veterinary hospital and quarantine facility.
The sustained regional economic downturn has led the Zoo's leadership to conclude that the fourth planned project, construction of a polar bear exhibit with significantly expanded indoor holding and outdoor space and a saltwater pool with costs ranging from $15 - 20 million, is not feasible. Instead, in response to visitor demand for big cats, Zoo management is engaged in preliminary planning for a tiger exhibit. In addition, numerous new animals are being considered as exciting additions including but not limited to African red river hogs, king vultures, takin, venomous snakes, vampire bats, moose, additional monkeys and a walk through lorikeet exhibit where visitors can feed a flock of these colorful and playful birds.
Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the nation, is Rhode Island's number one outdoor family and tourist attraction, and is also a
leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. The Zoo has received numerous awards for environmental education, and
conservation work done locally and around the world, caring for species that without human intervention would face certain extinction.
Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.