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Lehigh Valley Zoo’s latest exhibit: Its success

Ten years after it nearly went extinct — or at least bankrupt — the Lehigh Valley Zoo appears to be in good health.The Schnecksville zoo made a record $4.1 million in 2018, with about 230,000 guests, according to Zachary Keenan, vice chairman of the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society, which has run the zoo since 2004. Four years earlier, it made $1.9 million.“These results came as a result of the zoo’s amazing staff creating new and engaging experiences … despite significant rain during our peak summer season in 2018,” Keenan said, noting the guest total included 55,000 drawn in by the Winter Lights display unveiled each November. “We [will] continue to follow our mission in providing a safe, engaging and enlightening wildlife experience.”Lehigh Valley Zoo strives for new heights with giraffe exhibitNext on the zoo’s agenda is a two-year initiative starting this year to ban all single-use plastics on its premises. The zoo wants staff to use reusable lunch containers and bottles, and will remove plastic bottles, utensils and straws from guest service areas. Guests will also see the initiative at the Lorikeet Landing exhibit, where they can feed nectar to the rare birds. The plastic containers used to serve the nectar are being replaced by ramekins, keeping more than 25,000 cups out of landfills, according to the zoo.In order to bring the sustainable efforts beyond the walls of the zoo, Melissa Borland, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society, said it will start a “huge outreach campaign” to sell conservation pins made of recycled material. If the zoo receives 50,000 pledges and sells 10,000 pins, it will donate $5,000 toward efforts to clean up the ocean, Borland previously said.The zoo is up for reaccreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in March. The AZA focuses on several aspects of zoos, including animal welfare practices, guest education, resource storage, finance policies, communications, government and donor relations. A baby bison recently born at the Lehigh Valley Zoo enjoys a nice day with its mother in early June. (Amy Shortell/)“They really want to make sure we are a sustainable unit as a zoo … to consider us to be AZA accredited,” Borland said.She said the zoo received the AZA accreditation with flying colors five years ago so it does not foresee any issues.“As long as we stay focused on what’s important and the target areas that help us stay current, we’re going to be OK,” Borland said.One zoo backer among the commissioners says he has another improvement in mind: more communication with the board.Marc Grammes, a former member of the zoological society who was heavily involved in the zoo’s improvements, said he would like to see annual updates on profit and loss, budget and capital plans. “I did not hear anything about 2018 … I didn’t see anyone here from the zoo last year,” Grammes said. “This board continues to wish the zoo to succeed but what we have to do … is continue to grow that relationship other than the budget process.”Director of General Services Rick Molchany, a director on and previously CEO of the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society, said the lack of communication was caused by a lack of need, whereas regular updates were previously necessary. Molchany and Borland, he said, have the information Grammes wants and can provide it to the board. He said it is up to commissioners whether they would like to receive annual updates from the society. Gabriela L. Laracca is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Source: Morningcall

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