Chaffee Zoo wins national award for Sea Lion Cove

Chaffee Zoo wins national award for Sea Lion Cove

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s Sea Lion Cove exhibit earned the 2014 Top Honor Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The award, announced today at the national AZA conference in Orlando, Florida, is the national organization’s highest honor for exhibits, chosen out of applications from other members including the San Diego Zoo, the Smithsonian and Sea World.

Sea Lion Cove opened to zoo visitors on Aug. 27, 2012, featuring a 240,000 gallon pool with rock features making a home for three sea lions, two harbor seals and two brown pelicans that can be seen from above or in an underwater viewing area.

The exhibit, built with $10.5 million in funds from the Fresno County’s Measure Z tax, contributed to a 28 percent increase in attendance after the first year of opening.

“After watching our guests’ reaction to Sea Lion Cove, we knew it was a success for Fresno County,” said Fresno Chaffee Zoo CEO/Director Scott Barton, in a press release. “But to get national recognition from our colleagues reaffirms that, with the great support from our community, Fresno is creating one of the best zoos in the country.”

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo began construction late last year on its newest project, African Adventure that’s being built with around $55 million in Measure Z money.

Expected to open in fall 2015, the project will double the zoo’s footprint to 39 acres with space for lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and other animals that depict the African Savannah.

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