The new David and Patricia Daulton Family Education Building looks like a cabin peeking out from behind evergreen trees.

Watch It Unfold — MetaZoo’s Ongoing Transformation!

It’s been an exciting year for the MetaZoo as dreams, plans and fundraising have evolved into tangible progress!

If you’ve visited the Louisville Zoo within the last few months, you have likely noticed a construction site adjacent to the MetaZoo Discovery Center where a picturesque cabin-like structure was being erected. This is the “David and Patricia Daulton Education Building,” and it encompasses the new offices for our dedicated MetaZoo educators. Previously, our educators shared an office space inside the MetaZoo Discovery Center along with student classrooms and, of course, the habitats of our beloved animal ambassadors. The creation of this new office building will allow for the growth of our Animal Ambassador Program. With the new office building now complete, renovations will begin inside the MetaZoo Discovery Center to create an immersive, engaging experience for both guests and our animal ambassadors.

photo - porcupine with white tipped dark quills, brown fur, small beady black eye, short snout, looking at corn.One of the exciting plans for the Discovery Center will take shape in the “Kentucky Waters” room. With the potential to house four different animals, this space presents the perfect opportunity for guests to witness natural animal behaviors in a safe, secure environment. While plans are still being finalized, the goal is to allow guests — through camps, classes and Backstage Pass experiences — to encounter scenes like a porcupine climbing overhead or a hawk flying from point to point. Education Curator Kim Allgeier explained:

“Creating experiences where people can make personal connections to wildlife is one of the best ways we can demonstrate the quality of care we provide our animals, as well as allowing our guests a greater understanding, appreciation and respect for animals. The more we can do this, the better chance we have of deepening awareness about the critical need for wildlife conservation and the importance of living in balance with the animals that share our planet.”

This project of $2,737,350 was 100 percent funded by private dollars. Donations were solicited by the Zoo Foundation Board, Zoo staff and proceeds received by Friends of the  Louisville Zoo from their two major events: Zoofari and Brew at the Zoo. A total of 19 donors contributing $10,000 or more toward the project will be recognized on plaques inside the renovated MetaZoo building, while all donors that contributed $1,000 or more will be honored on a sign placed on the exterior of the MetaZoo upon completion of the project.

Skunks Harry and Neville look at the camera from inside a log.Thank you to the Friends of the Louisville Zoo Board and our generous event attendees for their contributions and support of this important project. Renovations are not the only exciting news coming from our MetaZoo. We recently welcomed two striped skunks from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado. Brothers Harry and Neville, named after Harry Potter characters, were two of six kits born as the result of a breeding recommendation. They arrived in September when they were 10 weeks old.

Striped skunks are the most common skunk in North America. They are naturally quite smart and very curious. In the short time Harry and Neville have been in Louisville, staff have already been able to pick up on their personality differences. Harry tends to be more docile, while Neville is more curious and the first to investigate new situations. Both are highly food motivated and enjoy puzzle feeders that encourage their natural foraging behaviors.

Harry and Neville are easy to tell apart from one another due to their fur coats. They both have the iconic white back stripe skunks are known for. However, Harry is overall gray in color while Neville is a dark black. The skunks are currently in standard quarantine under the care of their keepers and the Zoo animal health team.

We also welcomed Reptar, our new inland bearded dragon, that is around 4 years old. This curious guy loves carrots, super worms and especially crickets. Reptar is quite the adventurer, known for his daring climbs and exploration around his habitat. He’s an impressively large bearded dragon, living up to his namesake. While MetaZoo renovations are currently underway, keep an eye out for Reptar once the enhancements are complete. His antics are sure to engage and amaze!

Now that construction has begun on the MetaZoo Discovery Center, our animal ambassadors will be temporarily moved to other locations throughout the Zoo, and the MetaZoo will be closed to the public. We are estimating the completion of Discovery Center construction in late fall of 2024. We hope you’ll stay tuned and follow along for all the latest news and updates on our MetaZoo metamorphosis!