Article by Media-Newswire.com
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today unveiled the newly refurbished, state-of-the-art reptile wing at the Staten Island Zoo, home to one of the largest collection of venomous snakes in the nation. The City invested $18.8 million in capital funds in the 16,600-square foot project through the Department of Cultural Affairs. The new wing will house 120 species of reptiles, and features a new main entrance, a two-level alligator pool, interactive exhibition space, classrooms, an auditorium, and the “Fear Zone” – a special exhibition designed to educate and dispel common myths about snakes and other reptiles. The project also incorporates a number of environmentally sustainable features for energy reduction and improved air quality.
The Mayor was joined by Cultural Affairs ( DCA ) Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Design and Construction ( DDC ) Commissioner David J. Burney, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, Council Member Michael McMahon, the Zoo’s Director John Caltabiano, and Board Chair William Frew.
“Not only is New York City a world capital of art and culture, we are also home to one of the largest venomous snake collections in North America,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “From its founding, education has been a vital part of the Zoo’s mission. The opening of today’s Reptile Wing will vastly expand the Zoo’s ability to fulfill that mission, and the Zoo is doing so in an environmentally responsible way, by reducing energy consumption by 20 percent and improving air quality.”
The new Carl F. Kauffeld Reptile Wing is dedicated to the memory of a renowned herpetologist who served as the Zoo’s Director and Curator of Reptiles from 1936 to 1973 and has been credited with bringing the collection international acclaim. The refurbished reptile house took two years to complete and is located in an expanded and renovated wing of the 1930’s WPA exhibit hall of the Zoo. The design for the wing, by Gruzen Samton LLP, received an AIA Staten Island Design Excellence Award in 2004. The project includes a 32-foot long bronze python designed by artist Steve Foust for the curved exterior wall of the new main entrance. The artwork was commissioned by the City’s Percent for Art program.
The new facilities showcase and support the Zoo’s collection of aquatic, venomous, and non-venomous snakes and invertebrates in their “native” habitats. ... “I applaud the Zoo’s commitment to creating a dynamic, environmentally friendly public space that gives children and adults of all ages the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary world of reptiles,” said DCA Commissioner Kate Levin. “Indeed, this new facility will allow the Staten Island Zoo to enhance its contribution to the City’s vibrant non-profit cultural community.”