Franklin Park Zoo and Killington Hay Festival Announce New Exhibit
Posted on September 26, 2011
Killington, VT -- Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo will be home to a new animal from Killington, Vermont this fall, and it’s a real heavyweight. On Wednesday, September 28, Zoo officials will introduce their newest addition: a 30-foot, two-ton “baby red panda” constructed entirely of Vermont hay. The exhibit is a co-venture with the Town of Killington, Vermont designed to welcome the twin red pandas born over the summer at Franklin Park Zoo, and to introduce animal lovers to Killington’s Hay Festival, running through Columbus Day weekend in the Vermont resort town. Members of the media are invited to a “Call of the Wild” ribbon-cutting ceremony and exhibit opening on Wednesday, September 28 at 11am at Franklin Park Zoo.
The 4,000 pound sculpture will be constructed on Monday and Tuesday, September 26 and 27, under the direction of a design and construction team from Killington. The idea was conceived by Killington tourism officials who were looking for a way to promote their fall festival to the Boston region. The birth of the highly endangered baby red pandas in July provided the perfect species for the giant sculpture, and a natural tie-in for the festival, which boasts an “exotic” zoo of its own. Approximately 40 giant hay sculptures make up the celebrated “Grass Menagerie,” the central element of the Killington Hay Festival.
Plans for an early September unveiling of the Zoo exhibit came to a halt when flooding from Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont and the Killington region hard, causing road closures into and out of town, and threatening whether the Hay Festival would even take place. But due to extreme volunteerism and the ‘can-do’ attitude of Vermonters, the main route through Killington reopened last Friday, and the two New England locations immediately put a new plan together.
“We are so pleased to be able to go ahead with this exciting partnership and present this very special tribute to Boston’s new baby pandas,” says Suzie Dundas of the Town of Killington’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism. “We hope to use our Hay Festival in Killington to provide even more awareness for conservation and education of endangered species, especially with these adorable new additions to the Zoo.”
The births of the twin red pandas on July 4 of this year were a first for the 99-year old Franklin Park Zoo. These small red and white animals are not closely related to giant pandas. They are found in cool, bamboo forests in China, the Himalayas and Myanmar, but their numbers are dwindling in the wild. Franklin Park Zoo (part of Zoo New England) participates in the nationally coordinated Red Panda Species Survival Plan, which creates stable and genetically diverse red panda populations within zoos. The Zoo is currently conducting a contest to name the baby pandas, in conjunction with Boston.com.
“We are thrilled to welcome this new ‘animal’ to our collection and we are sure our guests will really get a kick out of seeing it,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “We’re delighted to form this new partnership with the Killington Hay Festival and we hope to welcome more ‘animals’ each fall. It’s a fantastic collaboration and it fits in perfectly with our fall season.”
The Baby Red Panda Hay Sculpture will be on display at Franklin Park Zoo through mid-October.
Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England’s mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education. More information about Franklin Park Zoo is available at www.franklinparkzoo.org.
Located in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains, Killington is home to the Killington Ski and Golf Resort, Green Mountain National Golf Course, exceptional restaurants and four seasons of endless outdoor adventures. For more information visit www.discoverkillington.com.
For more information: Suzie Dundas - 802-422-2185 - firstname.lastname@example.org.