Caldwell Zoo gives preview look at plans of new zoo features to come

“It’s exciting to be able to go one place and see animals from all over the world.”
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Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 9:27 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The Caldwell Zoo’s South American exhibit is one step closer to a complete transformation.

The zoo announced on Thursday that major changes have been approved the exhibit.

The plans will add “a vast array of alluring animals and beautiful birds to a major part of the zoo. The Amazon River’s Edge will highlight animals from South America in beautiful and expansive habitats. Along with the addition of dynamic animals, new guest experiences will be a part of the remodel,” the zoo said in a statement.

The zoo is renovating the exhibit because it is the oldest and has not been renovated since the 1980s.

“The utilities, infrastructure is dated, and the exhibits are dated, and we’re just really excited about bringing some new, fresh exhibits with a lot of opportunities for new experiences to the community,” Chief Operating Officer Scott Maddox said.

“It’s exciting to be able to go one place and see animals from all over the world,” Maddox said.

According to the zoo’s announcement, conservation is always a priority at the zoo and therefor, Amazon River’s Edge will feature many species that are threatened or endangered in the wild. Selected exhibits will be linked to future Caldwell Zoo supported conservation projects in wildlife “hot spots” and communities in the Amazon region.

“That’ll also position us to contribute to conservation efforts for endangered and threatened species like those animals in our future,” Maddox said.

New guest experiences will also be apart of the remodel including a bridge for the jaguar to walk over you.

“There will be another pass over bridge over the walkway up here that the jaguar will use to get to the flex habitat,” Maddox said.

Features of Amazon River’s Edge:

  • Jaguar, third largest feline on the planet
  • A flowing river water feature with giant river otters
  • Quiet arboreal habitat for the sloth
  • Walk-through aviary featuring a dazzling array of birds
  • Giant anteater
  • Capybara
  • New event space and meeting areas

Maddox said the giant river otters can get up to 6 feet tall!

Hayes Caldwell, President and CEO of the Caldwell Foundation said, “This has been in planning for years. We wanted to make sure we deliver the very best for our animals, staff, and guests. When Amazon River’s Edge opens, we’ll be able to share some of the wonders of South American wildlife in a spectacular manner.”

The plans by BKP Architects have been developed over many months and construction will begin within the next few weeks, according to Maddox, with an estimated completion expected between 14-18 months.

The rest of the zoo will be open while construction is taking place in the South American exhibit.

“We’ll have it set up to where you can see into the area and kind of keep track of what’s going on by watching,” Maddox said.

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