ZooMontana has been awarded a $51,000 grant to build and market its sloth exhibit.
The grant was awarded through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Eastern Montana Tourism Partner Initiative. The initiative is a collaboration among the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development at Commerce and communities across Eastern Montana formed to help community leaders strengthen local economies.
Grant funds will be used for the construction and marketing of the zoo’s anticipated Stockman Bank sloth exhibit.
“A gift of this magnitude from the Montana Department of Commerce showcases just how important Eastern Montana is on their agenda,” said Jeff Ewelt, ZooMontana’s executive director. “These types of community investments will only strengthen our local economy, not to mention help Billings get a sloth.”
ZooMontana hopes to begin construction on the new sloth habitat as soon as possible. The zoo team will use the funding to partner with Visit Billings to market the new exhibit once completed.
Montana Department of Commerce Director Tara Rice said communities in Eastern Montana are planning for smart, long-term economic growth to bring more travelers to the region.
“One part of the economic equation in Eastern Montana includes making sure visitors in and around Montana know they can find breathtaking experiences in every corner of our state.”
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ZooMontana was one of eight Eastern Montana projects to be funded during this first round of grants through the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development at Commerce.
Ewelt said the addition of a sloth to the Zoo’s growing animal base will allow ZooMontana to educate guests and students the importance of wildlife and habitat conservation, while delving deep into the evils of the illegal wildlife trade.
“This project was such a great collaboration of the community, and now the state," Ewelt said. "From private donors to businesses like Stockman Bank to the State of Montana, it is always great to see what you can accomplish when innovative partnerships are put into place.”