Association Of Zoos And Aquariums
In March 2011, ZooMontana faced a dire reality: engineer a drastic and dramatic turnaround or deal with the very real possibility of closing by the end of the year.
Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, Montana’s only public rescued-wildlife refuge, faces federal fines and possible closure.
Schweitzer talks with Jeff Ewelt, ZooMontana’s executive director, at the new beaver exhibit while visiting the zoo for the first time on Monday.
After a year highlighted by high-profile financial and organizational problems capped off with a little positive momentum, now is the time for ZooMontana to present a new face to the public, or to "put on our big-boy pants," said Jeff Ewelt, the zoo's executive director.
ZooMontana suffered through a difficult time in 2011 due to financial problems, the loss of accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a change in management. But Ian McDonald, a Billings dentist who is president of the zoo’s board of directors, believes better times lie ahead.
Weather was the biggest news of 2011. A precipitation-drenched winter and spring touched everyone in the region.
At first glance, Gary Geddes was impressed.
ZooMontana’s Discovery and Education Center could get a new look, but only if the facility can procure the funds.
After being hit by floodwater, windstorms and revenue loss, Dakota Zoo director Terry Lincoln is certain that he has discovered the biggest challenge of running a zoo.
Next fall, ZooMontana will attempt to regain its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and new director Jeff Ewelt is optimistic.
ZooMontana displays signs for future development. Zoo director Jeff Ewelt and the zoo’s board are confident that the facility can be greatly improved with the help of the community.
The garden area at ZooMontana often is rented for weddings and other events. In the coming year, director Jeff Ewelt is hoping to increase the number of events at the facility and regain the community’s trust in ZooMontana.
The main entrance to ZooMontana.
ZooMontana no longer accepts membership cards from any accredited zoo. The facility’s accreditation from the Asoociation of Zoos and Aquariums was revoked this year.
Signs for exhibits at ZooMontana have been beaten by weather, an example of how maintenance has slipped in recent years and what the zoo has to shore up.
ZooMontana sees many visitors in springtime as schools book trips to the facility.
The red panda exhibit is one of the popular at ZooMontana. With the loss of accreditation, however, the zoo has had to part with some other popular animals.
McKenna, Ethan, and Andrew Johnson of Laurel interact with a North American river otter at ZooMontana. The otter exhibit has been one of the longest-running features at the facilty.
The Bismarck Tribune’s Discovery Center is seen at the DakotaZoo in Bismarck, N.D.