COAL VALLEY, Ill. (June 30, 2017) – Starting today, visitors to Niabi Zoo will have the chance to experience a brand new aquatic habitat that features a giant Pacific octopus, a moray eel, jellyfish, and many other underwater species.
The new exhibit features a total of 40 aquatic species from across the world and is housed in a renovated building immediately to the right of the zoo’s entry gate.
“Although oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, we’ve only explored about five percent of the Earth’s oceans,” said Lee Jackson, director of Niabi Zoo. “In building this new habitat, we wanted to expose our visitors to this amazing underwater world and educate them about the animals that call it home. We’ve also dedicated a big part of the exhibit to the threats these animals face and how we can help in conservation efforts.”
The theme for the new exhibit is “Amaze | Connect | Save.”
“As visitors explore the new habitat, first they will be amazed by facts about the ocean and especially the importance of coral reefs,” said Jackson. “As they move through the exhibit, we’ll help connect how all of us – even right here in the Midwest – are connected to oceans. Lastly, we’ll talk about threats to our oceans and how each of us can make a difference.”
Among the animals on display are:
· The Giant Pacific Octopus, which grows bigger and lives longer than any other octopus species.
· The Blue Spotted Stingray, which can usually be found in the shallow, sandy, or rocky areas on a reef. However, unlike its other stingray cousins, it doesn’t bury itself in the sand.
· The Zebra Moray, which likes to hole up in crevices and under ledges and comes out at night to hunt. While some morays have sharp, pointed teeth for grabbing and holding on to fishes and other slippery prey, zebra morays have flat, platelike teeth, perfect for crunching hard shells.
· Moon Jellyfish, which emits a purplish glow and are mesmerizing to watch.
As part of the final phase of the exhibit, visitors will learn about ways they can help save marine life and do their part to help maintain the ecosystem by visiting the Conservation Station. The station will be staffed by educators – who will also be present throughout the exhibit during opening weekend as well as frequently thereafter.
The new Oceans exhibit is the latest in a slew of changes at Niabi this season.
When the zoo opened for the season in April, it unveiled the renovated reptile house that is now home to dozens of new reptile species, including two Baja Blue Rock Lizards, three Green Sailfin Dragons, three Leopard Tortoises and two Bredl Pythons, among many others.
Two miniature donkeys and two alpacas have also joined the domestic animal area, and in May Niabi welcomed two Aldabra giant tortoises as well as a pair of Bactrian camels. Finally, late last month, Niabi finished upgrades to the Australian Outback exhibit by welcoming 200 new parakeets.
In addition to the new animals, Niabi welcomed Joel Vanderbush the zoo’s new Curator of Conservation and Education.
“There are lots of new things to see and do at Niabi,” said Jackson. “Beyond exposing guests to animals from all across the world, we want our visitors to understand that a zoo is not just a place for a family visit. It’s a place that connects us all to the natural world through conservation leadership and educational experiences.”
Admission rates, hours and Membership information
The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Last entry will take place at 4 p.m.
By purchasing a ticket to visit Niabi, visitors are helping the Zoo educate visitors about wild animals, and their related conservation issues. Without this support, Niabi would not be able to fulfill its conservation mission.
$7.25 Senior Citizens (62+ years)
$6.25 Kids (3 – 12 years old)
Kids 2 years old and under are free
FREE Admission and parking to Niabi Members – please bring picture ID and membership card.
Train rides: $3/person
Annual membership costs range from $35 to $105 based on family size and various additional perks.
About Niabi Zoo
Niabi Zoo offers an opportunity to explore more than 40 acres that encompass 200 animal species from multiple continents while enjoying the countryside of Rock Island county. This exploration guides guests through the discovery of more than 600 animals representing over 200 species from around the world. The Zoo places great emphasis on educating both children and adults about the importance of conservation and how they can play a part in saving species and their ecosystems for future generations. The educational center is an important part of their mission to connect the community with the natural world through conservation leadership and engaging educational experiences. Niabi Zoo strives to instill a sense of care and understanding for wild animals in each and every visitor as they work in the community.
For more information about the Zoo, visit NiabiZoo.com.