The Abilene Zoo opened a new reptile exhibit by the Elm Creek Back Yard exhibit on Jan. 28.
The exhibit consists of two windows containing a common iguana found in South America, two red-footed tortoises and a Coahuila box turtle.
Bill Gersonde, Zoo Director, said he is proud that Abilene Zoo is one of the few zoos in the country to house a Coahuila box turtle.
“It’s the most aquatic of all box turtles and is found only in a specific lake area in Mexico,” Gersonde said. “We participate in a management program for that species and are one of ten zoos in the United States that exhibit the Coahuila Box turtle.”
The zoo has housed the reptiles for a while now and even has successfully bred and raised the turtle’s offspring, but they haven’t been on display until now. Reptile Keeper Tony Baez said he was happy that the iguana, turtle and tortoises finally would be visible to zoo visitors.
“We’ve had these reptiles for a while in the back. They were reserve animals, and people couldn’t see them,” Baez said. “Now they’re right here in the open, so people can.”
Baez said the space was not being used, and after a few renovations, the animals were “plopped in.”
Although Abilene Zoo was closed Tuesday-Sunday last week because of the weather, it normally is open seven days a week except for Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
“We were shut down for public safety, but of course, the staff did come in to take care of the animals,” Gersonde said. “I’m happy to report that all the animals fared well in the storm.”
Abilene Zoo will continue its Two-buck Tuesdays for the month of February, a move Gersonde said he hopes will encourage more visitors during the winter months.
“All the animals have access to heated facilities, but the lions and the cubs really enjoyed the snow and resulting mud,” Gersonde said. “Many people aren’t thinking about coming to the zoo right now, but in fact, the animals, especially the cats, are more active in the cooler weather.”
General admission to the Abilene Zoo costs $5 for adults, $4 for seniors age 60 and older and $2.50 for children under age 12. Children under age 3 get in free.
The Abilene Zoo is located at 2070 Zoo Lane and is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m daily and 9 a.m to 9 p.m. on Thursdays during the months of June, July and August.
For more information on special events, new exhibits, volunteer opportunities or zoo news, call 676-6085 orÂ visit email@example.com.