Texas Zoo obtains grant for new vehicle

July 27, 2010 at 2:27 a.m.

Look out Victoria, the Texas Zoo is going mobile.

A vehicle for outreach education programs is in the organization's future.

The new vehicle, funded through a $25,000 grant from the M.G and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, will help expand current programs and raise awareness, said Andrea Blomberg, the zoo's executive director.

While programs such as "safety in the field," which educates people about poisonous animals and other dangers, have been around for a while, not everyone knows about them, she said. A vehicle with the zoo's name on it will help.

"It'll be like a rolling billboard," Blomberg said.

The set of wheels is also cost-effective.

Last year, Blomberg said, a local teacher explained schools didn't have a problem with the price of the educational programs, but did have trouble with transportation expenses.

"We can take ourselves and the animals over there much more cost-efficiently than them brining a big group of children over here," she said. "People don't have to come down to the Texas Zoo to learn."

The staff has not yet chosen a vehicle but hopes to have it purchased before the school year begins.

Other financial additions are also on their way.

The zoo will receive $9,500 on Aug. 5 from the Dow Community Grant to go toward expanding the education building, Blomberg said. Upgrades include adding on space, finishing out the inside and installing a "sorely needed" additional set of bathrooms.

Another $10,000 came in from the O'Connor and Hewitt Foundation to help underwrite the zoo's Aug. 28 Texas Tunes fundraising event.

The Court of Six Flags, a nonprofit group that raises money for other nonprofits, also selected the zoo to receive funding from its holiday ball in December.

The upcoming growth is exciting for everyone, Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong said.

"We need to support the activities of our local zoo," he said.

Armstrong said he recently took his 9-year-old grandchildren from Austin to the zoo and the family was "thrilled."

"We spent lots of quarters to feed the goats," he said with a chuckle. "But that's OK. I've got quarters for those goats."



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