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Bear cubs settling into a new home at Buffalo Zoo

WBFO News file photo

The Buffalo Zoo has reconfigured its exhibit space, allowing for a new, temporary home for its popular polar bear cubs.

The zoo is dealing with the shortfall in its capital campaign for the new Arctic exhibit and making some changes to prepare for planned construction.

Credit buffalozoo.org

Bid documents hit the street yesterday with bids due in about a month.

Zoo President and CEO Donna Fernandes says when the bids come in, planners will know how they match up with the planned $18 million capital campaign, which is about $2 million below that goal.

A future area for Arctic birds has been cut from the plan, but Fernandes says they are taking a different approach for a lynx exhibit. The space will still be set aside with the hope that someday financing will be found to allow for its construction.

"We aren't installing any of the utilities to that (lynx exhibit)  area, nor building the holding building. The big expense was building the stainless steel mesh that had to be completely overhead because lynx can climb much better than wolves can."

Fernandes says the bids include demolition of the bear pits built in the 1930s, although the hope is to save many of the enormous limestone blocks used in the construction and use them for the new bear exhibit.

On Monday, the bears had a chance to try out the swimming pool built in the Siberian tiger area at the old main building with the plan that the bears get the pool and the open area in daytime and the tigers at night.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.