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Miller Park Zoo Rebranding Ahead Of New Exhibits, Expanded Conservation Efforts

Miller Park Zoo Director Jay Tetzloff unveils a new logo and mission statement developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dana Vollmer
Miller Park Zoo Director Jay Tetzloff unveils a new logo and mission statement developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a big year for the Miller Park Zoo: new exhibits, expanded capacity, and bolstered conservation efforts. Now, the zoo has a rebrand to go along with it.

Miller Park Zoo and City of Bloomington staff unveiled a new logo and mission statement on Wednesday, fresh off the heels of the zoo’s 130th birthday.

Zoo Director Jay Tetzloff said his organization has a lot of stories to tell, but hasn’t done the best job of telling them. He said the rebrand will allow the zoo to build on its existing presence in the community.

“We still see ourselves as an economic driver for this community. Two-thirds of our paid guests who come through the zoo are not from McLean County,” Tetzloff said. “We are the only zoo that's accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that is on Route 66. So it's another opportunity for us to tell the story and to get people into our community and support our zoo.”

Surviving the COVID-19 pandemic was no small task, he said. The zoo reopened last June, with restrictions. Tetzloff said they’re looking forward to offering more attractions for Central Illinois families soon.

De Brazza's Monkeys are coming to the Miller Park Zoo in mid-July.
Nicola Geneletti
De Brazza's Monkeys are coming to the Miller Park Zoo in mid-July.

The new De Brazza’s Monkey exhibit opens in mid-July. In addition to the mid-sized African primates, the exhibit will also house small antelopes called Red Flanked Duikers. Tetzloff said there’s still work to do, including bringing the animals to Bloomington.

In the fall, the zoo will break ground on a South America exhibit.

“It's a million dollar exhibit—$750,000 is from a state grant and $250,000 from the Miller Park Zoological Society,” Tetzloff said. “They'll bring in giant anteaters, bush dogs and a new home for our Galapagos tortoises.”

Tetzloff said fundraising efforts are underway to expand the Children’s Zoo by adding a Mulefoot Hog exhibit. The species currently has a population of fewer than 200 and is considered critically rare.

Tetzloff said it’s an opportunity for the zoo to grow education efforts around conservation—something they’re hoping to do more of.

One project the Miller Park Zoo is already working on is pollinator gardens. Tetzloff said that includes five beehives at the zoo and the Prairie Vista Golf Course.

“We'll be modifying our current pollinator garden and modifying that into an endangered and threatened species garden,” he said. “We'll be, hopefully, propagating endangered species of plants here at the zoo, and then what we can do is take out the plants that we have in our current garden and move those to different gardens throughout the city, on city property.”

Stewardship—of the animal collection and taxpayer dollars—is one of the values highlighted in the zoo’s new mission statement. So are passion, innovation and teamwork, among others.

The zoo’s new motto is: engaging our community in conservation, education and fun since 1891.

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe said it’s an affirmation of the work the zoo has been doing for more than a century.

“The zoo is a very important amenity for us—not only as a city but also for taxpayers, as well as for a lot of local businesses who talk about the zoo to their prospective employees,” Mwilambwe said. “I'm very excited about what we can do.”

For more information on about the new exhibits, educational classes or events happening at Miller Park Zoo call (309) 434-2250 or visit BloomingtonParks.org.

Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WGLT. Dana previously covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois and Peoria for WCBU.