Mill Mountain Zoo
|Date opened||July 4, 1952|
|Location||Roanoke, Virginia, United States|
|Number of animals||Zoo: 85 3 Endangered Species|
The Mill Mountain Zoo is a zoo located atop Mill Mountain in Roanoke, Virginia. Originally opening in 1952, the zoo was operated by the City of Roanoke for its first 24 years. In 1976, the city turned its operation over to the Roanoke Jaycees. The Jaycees operated the zoo until 1988 when its operation was handed over to the non-profit Blue Ridge Zoological Society (BRZS). The BRZS today still serves as the operator and fund-raising mechanism for the zoo and its operations.
With its location atop Mill Mountain not being conducive to a major expansion, a proposal developed in 1984 to relocate the zoo to a 400-acre (160 ha) tract adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway as the Blue Ridge Zoo. This proposal was later abandoned in favor of the development of Virginia's Explore Park at the location originally proposed for the zoo. After the failed relocation proposal, the Blue Ridge Zoological Society voted in 1988 to have the zoo permanently located atop Mill Mountain. As part of this decision, a 10-year master plan called Zoo 2001, was completed in 1991, with some of its suggestions successfully implemented over the course of the next decade.
- Additions since 2008
- New Holding/Quarantine Building (houses new animals and the aviary birds during the winter-not accessible to the public
- New Animal Clinic-not accessible to the public
- Red Wolf Exhibit
- Eurasian Black Vulture Exhibit
- Black Tufted Marmoset Exhibit (Burmese pythons were moved into the Reptile House)
- Canadian Lynx Exhibit (where red tailed hawks were)
- Interactive Aviary
- Reptile House
Attractions and notable animals
The following are some of the more notable animals to be housed at the zoo:
- Frump Frump - Was an African elephant donated to the zoo from a passing circus in 1970. Although she would die just a few months after being placed in the zoo, a record 107,000 visitors passed through the zoo, with many making the trip specifically to see her.
- Ruby - Was a Siberian tiger. She was donated to the zoo by law enforcement officers, who found her being kept illegally as a pet in Danville, Virginia. Ruby was at the zoo from November 1988 until her death on December 10, 2006.
- Oops - is a Japanese macaque who escaped her cage in July 2006. Her escape was covered nationwide in news stories before she was recaptured a week later
- Zoo Choo - Opening with the zoo's opening in 1952, it originally consisted of a gas-powered Model G-16 miniature train engine, two passenger cars and an observation car. The train would operate continuously at the zoo except between 1994–1996 and 2002. In 2007, it was relocated to the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The zoo replaced the engine with another G-16 miniature train engine in August 2008.
The zoo is host to 85 animals and 35 different species, including two species on the endangered list, the red panda and snow leopard. It is constantly undergoing changes with a variety of species being added including the opening of an interactive aviary in 2008 and a reptile house in 2009. Some of the favorite attractions are "Bo" the very loveable wolverine, Nina the cougar, Tasha (who died at a very old age recently) and Boris the gorgeous snow leopards, Nova the red panda who was later joined by Takeo (Sophia, MMZ's red panda who was sent for breeding at the Denver Zoo), and the ever funny Japanese macaques-Richard, Mom, and Oops. Recent additions are red wolves, cinereous vultures, a Canadian lynx, four Asian short clawed otters, and pallas's cats (will be out once an exhibit is built).
Animals of the future
- "Zoo Facts". Mill Mountain Zoo. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- Shamy, Ed; Dwayne Yancey (September 16, 1990). "These are the Zoo's best and worst of times". The Roanoke Times. pp. A1.
- "Zoo Membership". Mill Mountain Zoo. Archived from the original on 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Dybdahl, Pete; Dwayne Yancey (September 17, 2007). "Revamped Roanoke Zoo earns its stripes". The Roanoke Times. pp. B1.
- Yancey, Dwayne (July 16, 1990). "Ruby making Zoo something to roar about". The Roanoke Times. pp. A1.
- Lu, Kathy (January 17, 2000). "Proposed zoo renovations leave nothing to Occident". The Roanoke Times. pp. C1.
- Shamy, Ed; Dwayne Yancey (September 16, 1990). "Small crisis on par for Zoo's 38-year course". The Roanoke Times. pp. A1.
- Codispoti, Amanda (July 10, 2006). "Oops the monkey found, returned to zoo". The Roanoke Times. pp. A1.
- Cramer, John (May 5, 2007). "Zoo Choo to take one-way trip". The Roanoke Times. pp. B1.
- "History of the Zoo". Mill Mountain Zoo (Official Web Site). Retrieved 17 July 2010.