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Watch now: Miller Park Zoo unveils rebranding, plans for new exhibits

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The De Brazza's Monkey exhibit is expected to open in mid-July, and zoo officials expect to break ground this fall on a new South America exhibit that will feature three different animals — Giant Anteaters, Galapagos Tortoises and Bush Dogs.

BLOOMINGTON — With a flamboyance of flamingos honking nearby, Miller Park Zoo officials on Wednesday unveiled a rebrand of the 130-year-old wildlife park on the city's south side.

Included in the package is a new logo and a revised set of values and mission statement. Also announced were plans for new and renovated exhibits, set to debut later this year.

"With COVID-19 we had a lot of chance to really think back and go, 'What are some big pictures?'" said Jay Tetzloff, director of the city-owned zoo and parks, recreation and cultural arts department. "This is an opportunity for us to really change the brand and hit that restart button and move forward with the zoo." 


Jay Tetzloff, director of the Bloomington parks, recreation and cultural arts department, introduces the Miller Park Zoo's new logo on Wednesday.

The rollout comes as the zoo prepares for its first summer without strict coronavirus mitigations — masks are still required in some areas — and gets set to cut the ribbon on a new primate habitat while also breaking ground on a South America exhibit and new multipurpose education center. 

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe told reporters Wednesday he's excited about the zoo expansion and sees the zoo as a "very important amenity" for the city, its residents and local businesses who use it as an incentive for prospective employees. 

"The zoo has a lot of different educational opportunities for kids to learn about the animals that are here, but also to learn about conservation," Mwilambwe said.  


Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, right, speaks with reporters following an announcement on Wednesday that Miller Park Zoo has rebranded and will unveil new exhibits later this year. 

Tetzloff said the De Brazza's monkey exhibit is expected to open in mid-July, after zoo staff finish some work and move the animals inside.

Construction on the exhibit started last October. It will house two De Brazza's monkeys — a medium-sized primate with an olive green coat and distinguished white beard — and two red-flanked duikers, a small antelope species.    

Zoo officials also expect to break ground this fall on a new South America exhibit that will feature three different animals — giant anteaters, Galapagos tortoises and bush dogs.

The $1 million project is being funded through a $750,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and a $250,000 check from the Miller Park Zoological Society. 

The planned exhibit will be placed near the south end of the zoo, where the Eurasian eagle-owls, red panda, Pallas' cat exhibits and Rain Forest Theater currently sit.

All of those buildings are aging and will be demolished, Tetzloff said, adding that the animals they house will be relocated to another part of the zoo.

The Scovill Zoo is welcoming new baby penguins. The Herald & Review's Clay Jackson meet s them in this video. 

The Rain Forest Theater will be replaced with a multi-purpose education center, set to be built later this year. Also in the works is fundraising for a children's zoo exhibit for mule foot hogs. 

"I'm all about diversity and showing different types of animals here at the zoo — we don't have anything that's like a pig," Tetzloff said, adding that only 200 of the critical rare breed domestic pig are left in the world. 

The new exhibits will carry the zoo's new logo, designed in-house by department staff. It features silhouettes of a flamingo, monkey and pawprint — symbolizing the zoo's primary exhibits — set on a tri-color swirl.

Miller Park Zoo logo

Miller Park Zoo's new logo was designed in-house by department staff. It features silhouettes of a flamingo, monkey and pawprint — symbolizing the zoo's primary exhibits — set on a tri-color swirl.

Zoo officials also drafted a new mission statement: "Engaging our community in conservation, education and fun," which Tetzloff said can double as a motto.

Zoo staff are expected to "live up to on a daily basis" seven new values: "passion, stewardship, integrity, knowledge, innovation, inclusion and teamwork." 

The rebranding has been in the works for over a year, and the revised mission and values have been ready for about five months, Tetzloff said in an interview following Wednesday's announcement. 

Miller Park celebrates 130th anniversary Saturday

Tetzloff said the timing of announcing the changes in zoo philosophy is not in response to claims made last month by the labor union which represents city staff that two zoo employees were wrongfully fired this year.

He declined further comment Wednesday on those claims, explaining that it's a personnel matter. 

"Everything that I have heard and have been told is to have a big bang when you roll out your brand," Tetzloff said. "Opening De Brazza's monkey is the big bang." 

Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert


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