Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo
|Location||North of Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA|
|Land area||43 acres (17 ha)|
|Number of animals||215+|
The Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo (NEW Zoo) is a 43-acre (17 ha) zoo located in the Brown County Reforestation Camp, 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the United States. The Zoo and Reforestation Camp together cover 1,560 acres (6.3 km2) and welcome over a half million visitors each year.
The NEW Zoo is one of only seven AZA accredited zoos in the country that do not receive local or regional tax support for the zoo's annual operating budget.
The area of the pre-zoo was covered with pine and oak forests when European settlers began arriving in the 1800s. Intensive lumbering soon cleared most of the land and people began planting crops. They didn't realize that most of the nutrients in this ecosystem were contained in the trees. Once the forests were gone, there were no leaves or logs left to decompose and replenish the sandy soil. After a few years, the soil was no longer able to produce crops. Brown County acquired the 1,600-acre (6.5 km2) area which makes up the Reforestation Camp when the settlers were no longer able to make a living off their land and could not pay the taxes.
In 1948, sparks from a passing train set fire to 80 acres (32 ha) of county land and destroyed what was left of the forest. This prompted the County Board to build an open prison camp and plant trees - hence the name Brown County Reforestation Camp. Beginning in 1950, Harry Barth, the first camp superintendent, and his wife directed inmates in planting 250,000 white pine, Norway pine, Jack pine, cedar, and spruce seedlings. This process continued for several years until the sandy wasteland was once again green forest.
During the 1950s, the reforestation camp became part of the County Park system. Ponds were dug for fire protection and recreation (fish were stocked). Hiking and ski trails were established. By 1952, bear, deer and timber-wolves were exhibited at the park and the Zoo was established.
In 1985, the county board decided to no longer provide money for capital improvements at the zoo. Since then, all new animal exhibits and major improvements are financed by the NEW Zoological Society, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, and by private donations.
Many types of native plants and animals can be found at the zoo, which features more than 92 exhibits with more than 215 animals from around the world. Animals at the zoo include giraffes, lions, snow leopard, moose, elk, bison, prairie dogs, bobcat, lynx, deer, llamas, emu, wallaby, alligator, monkeys, goats, zebu, tortoise, snakes, alpaca, and penguins.