Goats, sheep, pigs, alpaca, and other zoo animals have a new, “green” home in the Henry Vilas Children’s Zoo, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. Construction has been completed on a 3500 square foot barn that will operate nearly “off the grid” and will keep animals comfortable – even in winter – through the use of clean energy power.
“Our new Children’s Zoo barn allows the Henry Vilas Zoo’s focus on energy conservation and education to really shine through,” said Parisi. “The county’s zoo continues to offer this free, family fun with the help of our generous community partners. I’d like to offer them my deep thanks for bringing this project to completion.”
The barn contains high tech, soy-based, insulation to aid in energy efficiency, and the floors will be heated through the power generated by solar panels and five geothermal wells. The building itself is a timber frame structure, built with wood from sustainable forests, and constructed using mortise and tenon joinery, similar to a style used to build barns 100 years ago.
The barn also contains features to keep water where it lands on zoo grounds. The barn grounds contain both a replica 1933 windmill that pumps water into a rain garden, and an integrated 1,000 gallon rain water collection system. Water collected is used to clean exhibits and water plants.
“Innovative improvements to the zoo’s exhibits and animal enclosures are a big reason why record numbers of people continue to visit us every year,” said Jim Hubing, outgoing Director of the Henry Vilas Zoo. “And we couldn’t offer the fantastic family experience you can find at the zoo without the support of these amazing supporters, and our zoo partners. I encourage our visitors to schedule a trip to visit our animals in their new home soon.”
The $1.4 million project was made possible by a generous donation from the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, and was constructed by National Construction Inc. of Blue Mounds. The buildings geothermal heat system was donated by Research Products and Geo Systems of Madison. The three alpacas making their home at Henry Vilas Zoo were generously donated by Jeff Gunderson of Stoughton.
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