A ZOO FOR YOU, NORTH ALABAMA
Why does Huntsville and North Alabama need it's own zoo and aquarium?
Modern Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums are not those menageries of times past, nor are they those roadside attractions portrayed on sensationalized TV shows. They don't take wildlife from the wild to make a quick dollar showing off exotic animals. Instead, the majority of the wildlife in AZA zoos and aquariums have been born and raised with humans. Those that do come from the wild are brought to zoological institutions for health or preservation reasons in which the animal would not otherwise survive in the wild. The AZA has strict, high standards of care that a zoo and aquarium must abide by. The primary and ultimate goal is to preserve these species so that we don't lose them to extinction. All the money and effort goes towards that. We don't make a profit. We don't want zoological institutions to be the last place on Earth that a species survives extinction. Because of this we also work to conserve wildlife habitats so that future generations will be able to continue seeing these species in their natural environments. The key to all of this is providing a connection experience between people and the animals.
People in turn receive secondary benefits from these interactions. It is proven that interacting with animals at zoos and aquariums improves the emotional and mental health of their visitors. Zoos and aquariums are often categorized as community attractions together with museums. As community attractions, they have positive economic impacts (see Economic Impact Study) on other businesses in the community. Due to their nature as nonprofits, they typically spend all the revenue they bring in. With these expenditures and the draw of out-of-town visitors, the local economy can receive up to 3 times the revenue of a zoo and aquarium.
These are great reasons for a community to want to bring about a zoo and aquarium. Here are a couple of our reasons for wanting to bring a zoo and aquarium to our community:
"My family and I have traveled to visit many zoos and aquariums across the country and it has given us some of our fondest memories. We have always been envious of locals in these cities having such a treasure to visit whenever they please. I knew I had to get involved and do everything I could to bring this opportunity to life for my family and so many others."
- Orry Moody
NALZS General Board of Directors
"Growing up, going to a zoo for me was driving 2.5 hours to Tulsa, Oklahoma from my home in Arkansas. I don’t remember much, other than it not being relaxing. We had to quickly walk through to see everything before taking the long drive back home. Now, as an adult, I still have to drive long distance to visit a zoo, that is not only in another city, but usually another state. That is why we want to 'Bring a Zoo to You, North Alabama'.
- Lacy Laster
Jeff Benton Homes
NALZS Marketing/PR Manager
The North Alabama Zoological Society's prime goal is to create a zoo and aquarium in North Alabama. But it is not our only focus. We are actively putting together and executing programming to support our missions of wildlife conservation and education. The zoo will provide a unique environment in which to accomplish these noble missions. Zoos take time to build and we feel that northern Alabama also provide a very unique setting to further these focuses. Did you know that Alabama is the number one biodiverse state on the eastern side of the Mississippi River?
Please consider donating to help our education and conservation programs execute summer camps, community outreach, and high school clubs right now while we continue planning the zoo
Update: We have added Adventure Treks to the plan!
There has been a lot of interest to know what the zoo and aquarium will look like. Truthfully this cannot be determined until the procurement of a site has been completed. We are getting close. In a few weeks we hope to unveil a "Vision Plan". It is based upon an actual site that we are working to finalize before announcing it to the public.
The theme of the exhibits are based on national parks or preserves. We feel this is a distinctive and fitting way to help our visitors connect with wildlife and their wild places. As a conservation society, we support and encourage the roles and missions these special designated areas play in wildlife conservation. We also want to provide our visitors a "trip" to these unique places on Earth. The Adventure Treks will allow visitors to move through those animal habitats in some unique, adventurous ways.
As for an aquarium, there will be one building devoted to aquatic wildlife. However, the majority of the aquatic species will be in aquaria co-located with other wildlife from their respective national parks and preserves.
A bubble diagram showing the planned conceptual layout with the new Adventure Treks added. Zoo will be built in phases. The first phase is outlined in blue.