By: Melissa Kania
The newest exhibit at the Buffalo Zoo allows visitors to step back in time to the Erie Canal era in Buffalo history.
The Delta Sonic Heritage Farm, the first project to be built as part of Phase II of the Zoo’s master plan, opened on May 22 and replaces the old children’s zoo.
The Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the country and welcomes more
than 460,000 visitors per year. In 2002, a master plan was launched to
transform the Zoo. To date, more than $30 million has been raised toward
construction of new exhibits, including Vanishing Animals, EcoStation,
Otter Creek, Sea Lion Cove, M&T Bank Rainforest Falls and now, the Delta
Sonic Heritage Farm.
The exhibit’s main feature is a 35′ x 45′ historic barn donated by David Homes’ President David Stapleton and his family. The barn is a historic structure that was destined for demolition. Stapleton’s donation ensures that the community can learn about the significance of the Erie Canal era, an important time for engineering, trade and transportation.
Parts of the barn were reconstructed, including the flooring and the roof, to ensure safety for the animals. The original posts, beams and interior sidewalls keep the canal-era character of the barn.Inside the barn, children can participate in various interactive and educational activities to learn about local history, farming and conservation.
The homestead exhibit features heritage breeds of domestic animals and includes a wetlands area as well as a historic replica of an Erie Canal lock. The exhibit also features the reproduction of a canal boat in the lock, a site that was common in the middle of the 19th century. A garden area completes the exhibit.
The exhibit was designed by Gwen Howard of Foit-Albert & Associates and is meant to recreate a historic farm from the 1850s.
Major funding for this project, which cost $1.75 million, came from a public/private partnership, which included leadership gifts from Erie County, The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Delta Sonic, the Benderson family and the NxGen Program of the East Hill Foundation.