The Buffalo Zoo is one step closer to building its new Amphibian and Reptile Center. New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan has secured $300,000 in new state capital funding that will allow The Zoo to move forward with center’s construction. The newly allocated funds will bridge the gap on the $3.7 million project, by combining with previous monetary commitments from City of Buffalo, corporations, foundations and individuals. The Amphibian and Reptile Center will be named after former Buffalo Zoo President/CEO Donna M. Fernandes, who was able to raise $50 million in new exhibits and visitor attractions during her tenure.
The Buffalo Zoo is now home to more than 1,000 animals representing 500 species. The new Amphibian and Reptile Center will be home to more than forty different species including the Komodo dragon.
The funding announcement was made earlier today by Ryan, who was joined by Buffalo Zoo Board Chair, Jonathan A. Dandes, President/CEO Norah Fletchall, and Dr. Fernandes who has been newly titled president emeritus. The esteemed designation, goes hand-in-hand with the naming of the center. The legacy left by Dr. Fernandes includes:
- Increased the membership base to more than 18,000 households
- Built annual attendance to a 30-year record high of 538,000 at the close of 2016
- Helped The Zoo to be awarded AZA accreditation for an eighth consecutive time
- Along with the Board of Directors developed a 15-year Master Plan that led to development of new animal exhibits such as Vanishing Animals, Ecostation, Otter Creek, Sea Lion Cove, M&T Bank Rainforest Falls, Delta Sonic Heritage Farm, and the Garman Family Arctic Edge
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said “I am thankful that New York State will provide critical capital funding to help support the new Amphibian and Reptile Center at the Buffalo Zoo. This funding will help us to achieve our goal of a new world class exhibit here in the Queen City. A thriving Buffalo Zoo provides an economic boost for Buffalo and all of Western New York, and a revamped amphibian and reptile exhibit will help to deliver continued economic benefits. I am especially pleased that the board of the Zoological Society has accepted my recommendation to name the new Amphibian and Reptile Center after Dr. Fernandes. Her leadership over the course of 17 years helped to transform the Buffalo Zoo in ways many thought would never be possible. It is a fitting honor for her many years of dedicated service, and I am thankful to have her join us today for this special announcement.”
New Buffalo Zoo President/CEO Norah Fletchall said “This is an exciting project for the Zoo that will allow us to better explain the story and contributions of the various species in our care as ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild.” Fletchall adds that “Donna’s interest in all animals, particularly the smallest and often the most vulnerable, makes this an appropriate way to honor her dedication and achievements over almost two decades.”