The Scotts Bluff County commissioners Monday night confirmed a recommended $35,000 in capital funds from the county’s tourism board to assist with construction of the planned grizzly cub outdoor exhibit at the Riverside Discovery Center.
Riverside Zoological Society President Martin Mickey thanked the the county board for their “vote of confidence”, explaining the lodging tax dollars approved for the upcoming year will help in raising half a million dollars for the exhibit.
Mickey and Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brenda Leisy said they believe the bears, orphaned after their mother was shot illegally at Yellowstone National Park, will bring in families from several states to the zoo. The zoo in the last year had over 35,000 visitors.
Leisy also noted the one year of funding is less than the five year, $250,000 request made initially by the Zoogical Society. Leisy said the tourism board provided the zoo $200,000 over the last five years to help with construction of the Heritage Barn and Dino-Dig exhibit, but did not want the zoo to see the board as a perpetual funding source, which is why only a one year donation was approved this time.