SALISBURY — Government and Salisbury Zoological Park officials joined together to break ground on a new Animal Health Building Monday.
“The construction of this project is very important to the future of the Salisbury Zoological Park,” said Zoo Director Joel Hamilton
Once completed, the facility will provide more space and means with which to keep zoo animals healthy. Among the sections of the new building, there will be a room for surgery, necropsy, multiple holding areas and quarantine space.
Hamilton stressed the importance of that extra quarantine space, noting that roughly 60 percent of the 4,300-square-foot site would be devoted to keeping animals segregated until they have passed all necessary tests and screenings.
In an effort to improve overall park efficiency, the new clinic will feature geothermic heating and air. The extra space and utility should also allow the zoo to expand their efforts on conservation and breeding programs.
Additionally, it can be used to shelter animals during especially bad weather such as hurricanes or blizzards.
“The ability to provide consistent, modern medical care to our animal collection is very important,” said Hamilton.
Mayor Jim Ireton was on hand for the groundbreaking and took the time to thank each of the several organizations which had helped make the clinic a reality.
“This project … is an example of the community and all levels of government working together for the good of the zoo, and ultimately, for the good of Salisbury,” said Ireton.
Ireton also pointed out how diverse funding sources were, mentioning a Public Improvement Bond, Maryland Historic Grant, State Bond Bill and private donations.
“Really, the partnerships are what make this happen,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the zoo, Ireton especially thanked state representatives from both parties that had pushed for funding for the building.
“Animals are nonpartisan,” he joked.
According to Hamilton, the new clinic is the first step towards completing the zoo’s “Master Plan,” which was first conceived in 2006. In order to follow that plan, Hamilton explained that Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation is “critical,” something the new clinic will help maintain.
After Monday’s groundbreaking, construction is estimated to continue for approximately a year, with the clinic scheduled for completion sometime next March.