By Andrew DeCredico
In the past four decades Cape May County’s Zoo has grown from a small idea with just a few animals, to a world class zoo that has been one of only 10% of zoos in the country to obtain an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation. The Cape May County Zoo obtained its AZA accreditation in 1989 and has been accredited every year since.
The AZA has strict parameters on the care and wellbeing of all animals kept in captivity for a zoo to achieve their accreditation. The Cape May County Zoo has met and exceeded these standards time and time again, which is why TripAdvisor named it the 13thbest zoo in the world.
Saturday June 9thmarked the Zoo’s 40thAnniversary. Many members of the community were in attendance to celebrate this monumental anniversary. The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce awarded the zoo a resolution and Senator Jeff Van Drew was in attendance to congratulate the zoo as well as all the members of the staff on their job well done. Also, Secretary of State Tahesha Way paid a visit to commemorate the zoo’s 40thanniversary.
In 1978, the zoo’s early days, the list on animals was small, consisting of one African lion, a couple of spider monkeys, and a few barnyard animals. Within the first few years the zoo decided that they needed to expand, and began working on enclosures for more animals. Every enclosure was build by zoo personnel and by 1986 the zoo had welcomed more exotic animals into their facility. The new additions included black bears, bison, antelope, primates, and several species of birds.
In 1986 the zoo continued to expand and many exhibits that are still seen today were constructed. These new exhibits included lions, tigers, cougars, giraffes and camels, a reptile house, and the very important construction of a medical building and diet preparation building. The 1990’s brought even more improvement, including renovations, and additional new exhibits. Included in these improvements were the plans for an entire African savannah. This 57 acre plot of land would be home to many of the zoo’s most friendly faces, including zebras, antelopes, ostriches and giraffes. In 1998 original reptile house was destroyed by a fire, but soon rebuilt as the building we know today.
Although the zoo has grown exponentially, the staff has kept their focus on providing a wonderful life for their animals. The Cape May County Zoo is proud to be a part of the Species Survival Plan Programs (SSP). With the help of Zoos and aquariums around country, the SSP Programs oversee the population management of select species within the AZA institutions, and work to enhance conservation of species in the wild. Each institution that is a part of the SSP Programs coordinates with other member institutions through a variety of research, husbandry, species conservation, management, and educational programs. Each zoo works with the other institutions to promote awareness about these species, with an eventual goal of helping these species thrive and flourish in the wild.
At the end of the day The Cape May County Zoo announced the name of its 7 month old male giraffe. His name is Kifeda and he has been a happy playful boy since birth. His mother (Roz) still looks after him and makes sure no harm comes to him. Unfortunately the father has passed since his birth.
If you would like to visit baby Kifeda or any of the other animals mentioned in this article take a stop by The Cape May County Zoo. Admission is free however any donations help to provide the zoo the funds they need to continue providing the wonderful care that they have provided for the past 40 years, and enjoyment for all who visit.