The Erie Zoo will offer families a new feature starting Saturday [August 5, 2017].
Maleno Adventure Woods, designed to combine play opportunities with nature, is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. in the children’s area of the zoo, 423 W. 38th St.
“We’re so excited and we know families will just love this,” said Emily Antolik, director of communication for the zoo. “There’s something for kids of all ages, and we’ll only keep adding on to it.”
The area consists of three treehouse structures connected by rope bridges that kids can walk across. It also has ground-level interactive play areas, including a toddler area that features a log cabin and a replica outdoor kitchen.
Hidden within the structure are woodland creatures for kids to identify and discover, Antolik said. There are wooden Adirondack chairs and benches for kids and parents to rest on and a roofed area designed for stroller parking.
The first 100 children to enter the zoo Saturday will receive a special gift, Antolik said. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Maleno, an Erie-area builder and property management company, donated all labor and materials for the project, totaling around $100,000.
The new structure replaces one that was built in 2004 and torn down this past winter. The project was originally supposed to be completed in June, but Maleno ran into unanticipated issues with bordering Mill Creek, zoo officials said.
“It breathes new life into this area,” zoo Executive Director Scott Mitchell said. “The old system was just worn out. We really needed something new. This is really a trend that a lot of zoos and play areas are going toward — trying to reconnect kids to nature.”