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Science and the Environment

Dickerson Park Zoo Announces Major Changes


Dickerson Park Zoo has announced two major changes that will happen soon.

After calling the Dickerson Park Zoo home for many years, Henry the Hippo is leaving Springfield.  He’ll be moved to the Cincinnati Zoo in early 2016 to live at a new exhibit currently under construction.  According to Dickerson Park Zoo officials, the zoo’s hippo facility is “not on par with those at other zoos with water filtration systems, larger indoor and outdoor spaces and exceptional viewing both above and under water for the public.”

They say the zoo’s hippo exhibit has been an item of concern in past accreditation reviews by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  In 2012 the AZA said, “the hippo pool does not appear to meet modern zoological practice for a primarily aquatic species.”  Building a new hippo facility would cost several million dollars, which isn’t available at this time, zoo officials say.

The Species Survival Plan committee for hippos has recommended that Henry be matched with two females at the Cincinnati Zoo for breeding.

Dickerson Park Zoo will not host its annual Halloween Spooktacular event this year.  That’s because the boardwalk through the zoo has been closed following an evaluation of deterioration of the elevated walkway and suspended bridge, according to the zoo.  It’s slated for demolition and reconstruction later this year.  The project is expected to take several months.

According to zoo director Mike Crocker, they looked at several options for rerouting the pathway for the popular event, but he says “none would maintain the unduplicated length we needed.”