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Zoo seeks help building new amphibian and reptile center

Chris Caya WBFO News

The Buffalo Zoo is embarking on the next phase of its master plan, which includes building a new amphibian and reptile house.

The latest project at the Zoo is to transform the old Reptile House into a modern Amphibian & Reptile Center or A.R.C. Zoo President Donna Fernandes says the existing enclosures will be demolished and replaced with individual climate controlled exhibits.  

"There'll be automatic misting systems. All of the holding areas will be renovated and so we hope to bring the exhibitory and husbandry in to the 21st Century from our 1942 building," Fernandes said.

Its construction was overseen by former Zoo Director Marlin Perkins, who went on to host Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, on TV, from 1963 to 1985. Fernandes says Perkins is highly respected by zoologists.  
"In fact the highest honor you can get in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is the Marlin Perkins award," who Fernandes said was ahead of his time.  
"When he built this Reptile House it's noted for the large size of the enclosures. When you go to a lot of zoos there's small little tanks. Like 40 gallon tanks. In its day it  was like wow these were enormous. They had a lot of water features. And so it really was state-of-the-art in 1942," Fernandes said.

Even though time has taken its toll, the historic integrity of the Reptile House won't be lost during the $2.5 million renovation.
"Because this building is so original to the WPA era, which is an important part of our history, and there's some wonderful architectural elements. So the brick walls, the terrazzo floor, the brass railings, all of that will be retained," Fernandes said.
The project will also enable the Zoo to continue its conservation of several endangered species. To help build the A.R.C. donations can be made at buffalozoo.org.