Grand opening for new zoo entrance

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The city held a ceremony Friday to highlight the renovation of the Honolulu Zoo's main entrance making the zoo more recognizable and accessible, according to Mayor Peter Carlisle.

"The Honolulu Zoo is truly one of our city's treasures, and the new entrance has made it even better," Carlisle said. "This is just the latest in a series of upgrades and improvements that are helping our zoo remain a vibrant, world-class facility to showcase its animal collection for our kamaaina and visitors."

The zoo hosts approximately 600,000 visitors each year. Replacement of the entrance had been considered since completion of a 1983 zoo master plan.

The new entrance is designed in a style similar to that of the new Zoo Learning Center, which was completed two years ago.

The entrance includes three building elements connected by a covered walkway, and features a gift shop, a combination ticket booth and patron concession for stroller, umbrella, and sunscreen sales and rentals.

"The old entrance, which opened in 1964, served the zoo well for many years but our guests will be treated to a better introductory experience when they walk through the new Honolulu Zoo entry," said Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo.

The $2.98 million project also involved the relocation of the zoo's administrative facilities to the former location of the animal clinic, which has also been replaced. The city's contractor for the entrance project was Okada Trucking Co.

The zoo recently renovated its lion enclosure and acquired two new lions. In addition, a major new elephant exhibit is currently under construction and is slated to open before the end of 2011.