Monday, January 23, 2012

Vintage Monkey Islands--Michigan City Zoo


The Washington Park Zoo Monkey Island is closed indefinitely due to deterioration of the exhibit. After 80 years of operation the exhibit is considered no longer safe to exhibit monkeys or to be serviced by zoo employees. Monkey Island will be closed until further notice and will eventually be restored after a major renovation takes place. The zoo has plans to design a new modern monkey island exhibit and will unveil those once they have been set.

1938 Engineer's Castle on the left. It is now the Small Mammal Building

Completed by the Works Progress Administration in 1937, this interesting castle is on the grounds of the Washington Park Zoo, Michigan City, Indiana. The 309th Engineer Regiment, 84th Division, a World War I unit, placed a plaque on the building. It reads: "In grateful appreciation to the people of Michigan City for having erected this Engineer Castle, for over one hundred years the official insignia of the Corps of Engineers United States Army."


Sept. 26,2011

A major renovation is planned for Monkey Island -- a longtime popular attraction at the zoo in Michigan City.

The zoo is hosting a public meeting today to reveal ideas for renovating Monkey Island, which closed in July.

Washington Park Zoo Director Johnny Martinez said the circular concrete island, built four years after the zoo opened in 1928, was closed in July for safety reasons.

The primary concern is a 52-foot long underground tunnel used by zoo employees to access the island to feed and care for the monkeys.

Martinez said the rock and concrete tunnel is crumbling and creates some risk of collapse.

"It's starting to show its age," Martinez said.

Nothing is official, but one of the improvements on the drawing board is cutting 8-foot sections out of the four-foot-tall concrete wall surrounding the island, he said.

Glass would be inserted into the cutouts so people using wheelchairs and strollers can see into the island.

There's also talk of erecting a two-story structure with the lower level on the floor of the concrete island.

Martinez said zookeepers could walk directly into the second floor of the structure from the walkway above the island then step onto the island from the basement or main level of the building.

Providing zookeepers a way to the island from the building would allow for the access tunnel to be permanently closed.

The addition of animals like parrots and swans native to South America to join the monkeys on the island is also in the planning stages, Martinez said.

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