Big Bear Lake, CA — County Supervisor Neil Derry has just announced the purchase of a 10.4 acre parcel of land in lower Moonridge, to relocate and expand the Moonridge Animal Park, as escrow on the $2 million property closed this week. For nearly a decade, the zoo relocation project has been in various stages of discussion and implementation with action in earnest occurring over the last five years, per Derry’s office. The parcel was financed with San Bernardino County funds that had been set aside over several years, as well as matching state funds from Proposition 40. Various bureaucratic obstacles had impeded progress on the project, per a statement issued by Supervisor Derry, and the county was at risk of losing the state’s matching funds had it not acted. Per Derry, “The zoo was a pipeline project in grave danger when I took office and I expressed my commitment and support for the relocation to the curator and county staff. This was a true collaborative effort, and I am very proud of the results and excited about the zoo’s future.” The Moonridge Animal Park, home to over 150 birds and animals, is one of only two alpine zoos in the country and is entirely self-sufficient, via ticket sales and fundraising efforts overseen by the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District. In its current location, at the south end of the Bear Mountain Golf Course, space limitations and rent increases, from $1 a year to $5,000 a month, necessitated action on the relocation, which will take the zoo to the northern end of the golf course. “If we had lost these state funds,” adds Derry, “I am not sure what the future would have held for the zoo.” Now that those funds are secured and escrow closed, the Recreation and Park District will proceed with the CEQA and civil engineering process, with plans to seek public input on the project in August or September. If all goes as planned, development of the new Moonridge Animal Park will begin in April 2011, with completion slated for May 2012.
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