Groundbreaking for the much-anticipated Cat Canyon exhibit took place Thursday at Lee Richardson Zoo, and it was apparent that it would not have been possible without strong community support.
"All of us here at the zoo are just so excited about finally getting to start, as I'm sure all of you feel the same way. It's been years of just kind of a dream, from preliminary planning, an actual plan for fundraising and then it went to the stage of having the documents to actually build this exhibit. So it has been a long process," Zoo Director Kathy Sexson said.
Former Executive Director of the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo Mary Palmer, who left the position in May to move back to the Kansas City area, traveled to Garden City with her family to witness the groundbreaking.
Sexson credited Palmer for her efforts in making the exhibit a reality.
Palmer also attributed much of the credit to the community.
Cat Canyon will include separate yards for the cats of America — the jaguar, puma and bobcat — and will be a more natural type of habitat for each of the animals. There also will be a building from which zoo visitors can observe the cats.
Salina-based Harbin Construction is expected to begin work next week.
Sexson said that the contractor work will take about eight months, followed by sodding, landscaping and irrigation installation, putting the opening of the exhibit around mid-April to July.