There were once animals housed in the old education building at the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, then the building was used for education purposes, and now there's the idea of bringing animals back to the building, specifically turning the education building into an aviary.
It was an idea that developed over time that came around during the time of the flood of 2011, said zoo director David Merritt. He and his staff had a series of meetings during that time and discussed options on what to do with the old education building.
The number of birds that could be housed in the old education building would depend on the size of the birds, from dozens to hundreds, Merritt said. They could probably fit 40 smaller birds in the space the size of his office or two larger birds in the same space, he noted.
The old education building at Roosevelt Park Zoo, shown here, is in the discussion stages of possibly being turned into an aviary. A large variety of birds could be housed in the building and would help contribute to the sensory experience with their sounds.
"It's not a large building on the inside when you get in there," he said.
A large variety of birds could be housed in the old education building, as well. There would be some songbirds, thousands of different kinds and sizes, Merritt said.
"We'd want to display the diversity of birds and we want ones that make sound for the sensory experience," he added.
They probably would not keep any large birds in the education building due to space, however, Merritt said. Currently, the zoo has several dozen birds.
How long and how much work it would take to turn the old education building into an aviary would depend on circumstances and design work.
"If we had all the money and all the permission, (it would take) a year or a year and a half," Merritt said.
The old education building was constructed in 1921. It was the original zoo building and all of the animals were housed there, Merritt said in a previous interview. A visit to the zoo consisted of a drive-by where people could drive through the zoo and past the zoo building, he added. The building flooded in the 1969 flood and again in the 2011 flood. The old education building has also served many purposes, including housing animals, storage, and storing cleaning supplies.
Mike Nilsen, former park superintendent, in a previous interview, explained that the original park board and the first superintendent of the zoo had the idea to build the education building after they acquired a few animals. Animals once housed in the zoo building included lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats, a number of different monkeys, and a number of different birds.
The old education building also used to have an island of birds in the middle of the building with a narrow pool in the middle, Nilsen said. Old minutes from meetings that took place in 1921 gave no reports on what the cost was to build the education building, he noted.
Currently, Merritt thinks turning the old education building into an aviary would be a good use of the building.
"Birds are a big part of the wild world," he said. "There are good and sad stories about birds, like the carrier pigeon that's now extinct or the golden eagle that has been brought back, and birds are active and inquisitive. People like to see active animals."
An aviary would also fit with the zoo's mission, he noted, in that kids coming from farms and visiting the zoo would see birds at the zoo, which would help them connect with what they see at the farm. Plus, the ability to turn the old education building into an aviary would allow the zoo to expand their animal collection, Merritt said, and would get people interested in wildlife.