Big Bear Lake, CA — After 50 years in Moonridge, the Moonridge Animal Park is moving—to Moonridge. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, the governing body which oversees the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District responsible for the zoo, approved the $2 million purchase of a 10.46 acre parcel at the opposite end of the golf course in their meeting yesterday. The new site, on the corner of Clubview Drive and Moonridge Road, will more than quadruple the size of the existing facility, which is home to 150 birds and animals representing over 80 local species. The new acreage for the zoo is being purchased with over $1.5 million in Proposition 40 state park funds, and the remaining balance will be paid with previously dedicated County funds from the zoo’s CIP budget. In a statement from our Third District County Supervisor Neil Derry, he says, “For more than a decade, the County has been working to relocate this treasured asset. Finishing this project was a top priority of mine, since we were at risk of losing state funds if we did not act quickly.” Though the appropriation of funds for the purchase was approved on April 27, Reese Troublefield with the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District tells KBHR, “I don’t think it is in escrow yet, but it will be very shortly. When we acquire land like this, the County is going to go through the CEQA process and then, during that time, there will be some engineering and things we are trying to accomplish simultaneously. It is such a vague time right now, as we have to wait for escrow to close before any of this gets real and then, at that point, we will move forward diligently. It’s great to be making what looks like positive progress after such a long time.” Funding to operate the Moonridge Animal Park, which also serves as a rehabilitation facility for injured animals, comes from the County’s Special Districts through property tax revenues, though additional funding comes from gate admission, program fees, and the fundraising activities of the Friends of the Moonridge Zoo (who’ve planned two fundraising concerts, scheduled for May 30 and August 7). However, Supervisor Derry notes that the ultimate goal for the zoo is to become financially self-sufficient, through gate revenue and private donations. “This is the first step toward reaching that goal,” Derry says, “and establishing the zoo as a regional, if not national, must-see destination.” On a more local level, Troublefield adds, “The zoo is a cherished local staple in the community, and the Park District, and the Supervisor’s office and County Special Districts as well, are really excited about the opportunity to upgrade the facility and make it a place that you just can’t wait to go to.” Current hours for the Moonridge Animal Park, at the southern end of the Bear Mountain Golf Course, are 10am to 4pm weekdays and 10am to 5pm on weekends.
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