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#7 Minot Parks

New zoo habitats for cats

The new African lion habitat opened at Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo in September 2019. A new tiger habitat is still being constructed and scheduled to open in the spring of 2020. Submitted Photo

New African lion habitat opens and tiger habitat being completed, Magic City Discovery Center continues to move forward and Minot Park Board makes plans for 2020 – all happening in 2019.

Visitors to Roosevelt Park Zoo had the opportunity on Sept. 26 to see the Severson Ahart African Lion Savanna, the new home for Roosevelt Park Zoo’s two African lions, Kiota and Jassira, opening that day. Located on the east loop of the zoo where other African species are located, the African lion exhibit is part of a $58.8 million project for the zoo’s lions and tigers.

The lions’ new habitat is named for Clint Severson, a native of Minot, and his wife, Conni Ahart, who donated a million dollars to the zoo’s centennial capital campaign and gave them naming rights to the lions’ exhibit.

The Amur Tiger River Valley exhibit, the new habitat for the tigers, is still under construction near the zoo’s visitor center. The exhibit is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020, said Jennifer Kleen, executive director of the Minot Zoo Crew.

The zoo’s centennial capital campaign is continuing fundraising to renovate the former big cat habitat for the zoo’s two leopard species. The project is anticipated to be complete in the zoo’s centennial year in 2021.

Ron Merritt, executive director of Minot Parks, said the upgrades to the zoo’s parking lot were also completed in 2019. He said paving pathways inside the zoo will be completed in 2020.

Roosevelt Park Zoo also was granted the Association of Zoos & Aquariums accreditation this year. The accreditation means the Minot zoo is achieving “the highest standards for modern zoological practices and animal welfare,” said Becky Dewitz, zoo director.

AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete a rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the association. Roosevelt Park Zoo has been an accredited AZA member since 1989.

Magic City Discovery Center is more than halfway to its $7 million capital campaign goal, said Mark Lyman, president of the center’s board of directors. He said a ground breaking is anticipated for 2020.

In August, Ackerman-Estvold, the project architects, unveiled the final building design. The center will have 11 galleries and one 32-foot, iconic climbing exhibit in a three-story, 22,000-square-foot building. The space will include 12,000 square feet of exhibits.

The building will be located on Minot Park District land just south of the Sertoma softball fields on North Hill and overlooking Minot and the valley.

The center will be the only children’s museum in North Dakota.

In July, the Minot Park Board voted 4-1 to approve a $1.3 million purchase of 6.16 acres west of Maysa Arena to accommodate construction that could be coming someday to add another ice rink, an aquatics center and fieldhouse.

A new water slide, ice rink improvements at Polaris Park and paving projects around the park district are on the Minot Park District’s construction schedule for 2020.

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