Buffalo, NY - Western New York has fallen in love with those two cuddly polar bear cubs at the Buffalo Zoo but a funding drive to provide a new exhibit for polar bears at the zoo has not reached its goal.
In order to maintain the marketing power of Luna and Kali, the Buffalo Zoo has to make sure they have a new home. However the fundraising drive to help cover the cost of a planned $14 million dollar state of the art Arctic Edge polar bear exhibit has come up nearly two million dollars short. So that leaves them on hold for now. As Zoo Marketing and Development Director Adair Saviola puts it "We certainly plan to go full speed ahead as soon as we get all the money in place. We're a very conservative organization and we don't like to put shovels in the ground until we're sure we have the money to pay for everything."
The current funding gap does have them scaling back plans for the exhibit a bit as they shelved a Canadian lynx display portion. And they would like to start building this fall for a 2015 completion date. Because there is competition in the form of the St. Louis Zoo which is also building a new polar bear exhibit.
We asked "Does that put a little pressure on ? Saviola responds: It puts pressure on because we certainly wanna start our construction this fall and so we want to get shovels in the ground before the weather gets too bad. And the other things is the longer we hold off on starting construction the more expensive construction becomes with each passing year."
Zoo officials do plan to make more appeals to private foundations and some affluent individuals. They are also waiting for word on requests for funding help from the City of Buffalo and New York State. They are still optimistic but ready to make adjustments in the coming weeks.