Flamingos at a new exhibit opening at the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington have been let out for the first time. More than 20 Greater Flamingos, which are the tallest species, can be seen when patrons first walk into the zoo.
Parks and Recreation Director Jay Tetzloff said the flamingos will act as greeters.
"This is probably our best exhibit in the zoo now. And that's the first impression you get, so that's ideal for us," he said.
Tetzloff said it’s a relief to see the exhibit come to life.
"It's just so cool to see them out there. This has been a challenge for us from the very beginning. But the fact that we have the community support, we have the support from our government officials, the fact that we still are able to get these birds here and show people a beautiful exhibit," he said.
The display is the first time the zoo has opened a new exhibit in 12 years. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place Friday morning before the habitat opens to the public.
The city spent $150,000 to pay for half the cost to construct the flamingo exhibit. The rest was funded by the Ewing Zoo Foundation and the Miller Park Zoological Society.
Aldermen David Sage and Kevin Lower voted against the exhibit nearly a year ago, saying the city shouldn't spend money on flamingos with a $7 million dollar budget hole. Teztloff responded that city taxpayers will recoup the money in two years as a result of increased attendance at the zoo.