Cheetahs are natural communicators, the boys and girls of The Learning Jungle Childcare learned on Tuesday, June 29.
âWe came from Fargo because we worship Chahinkapa,â Allguire said. “We both grew up here.”
Allguire, Iverson and their 10 guests visited the Chahinkapa Zoo on a special day. Zoo director Kathy Diekman was proud that the Wahpeton Finance and Personnel Committee voted unanimously on Monday, June 28 in favor of Wahpeton City Council allocating $ 566,320 from the Sales Tax Fund for the economic development for new exhibitions and renovations for Chahinkapa. The city and the zoo would also enter into a joint partnership agreement if the council gave its approval.
Chahinkapa Zoo is preparing to once again provide a home for endangered Siberian tigers. Chahinkapa has been asked to house a breeding pair, said John Bullis, a representative of the zoo’s board of directors who spoke to the Wahpeton committee.
âReputable zoos like Chahinkapa must adhere to the distressing needs of nature,â Diekman said. âWe always think about conservation, which is a key principle of our mission. The tourism that comes in is important to our premier, award-winning zoo. We love to put smiles on faces. But, we also think about the amenities we offer our animals.
Chahinkapa Zoo is looking to upgrade and build three animal houses, Bullis said. Species affected include tigers, cheetahs and pits.
âAll of them are popular and their homes are in dire need of renovation,â Bullis said. âIn addition, we are also researching (improving and building) bridges.
Chahinkapa Zoo has turned a tide in 2020, Bullis said. While other zoos have seen their attendance decrease, that of Chahinkapa has increased. The zoo estimates that more than 80,000 people visited last year, and that number is expected to be exceeded as 2021 continues.
âWe provide an extremely clean and friendly environment, and it’s an appeal to people even far away,â Bullis said.
Bullis attributed the increase in attendance to the cheetahs at Chahinkapa Zoo. Chika and Nya were not only prominent in Wahpeton, they also appeared on regional Coca-Cola distribution trucks.
âWe don’t want to build a structure and be unable to maintain it,â Bullis said.
Chahinkapa Zoo is asking for help with capital improvement, not daily expenses, Bullis said. Zoo management discussed ways to leverage its funding and increased attendance, creating new opportunities for sustainable income.
âWe want to continue our plans to showcase Africa,â Diekman said. âThe Lions are in our master plan. Giraffes too.
Bullis said the goal is to have the new exhibits built by this fall. Before their vote, several members of the finance committee voted in favor of the Chahinkapa zoo.
âI couldn’t believe what Kathy had told me, that 94 percent of visitors are from out of town,â said city councilor Brett Lambrecht. “When you look at 80,000 and now 81,000 (visitors), the numbers justify (approval).”
âThey have a larger (visitor) demographics than any other activity we have in town,â Ward 2 Councilor Jason Goltz said.
The finance committee’s recommendation to support the Chahinkapa Zoo goes to Wahpeton City Council, which will vote on the motion on Tuesday, July 6.
âI just want to thank the finance committee,â Diekman said. âWe are so happy that they understand what habitats mean to the zoo, our mission, and the zoo’s continued maintenance and growth. I am very grateful and look forward to moving forward.
The boys and girls at The Learning Jungle Childcare, along with countless other visitors, strongly agree.