Sequoia Park Zoo unveils North America's first Redwood Canopy Walk experience

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The Sequoia Park Zoo announced plans to build a Redwood Canopy Walk and Native Predators exhibit Tuesday after receiving new funding from a state grant and private donations.

The Redwood Canopy Walk experience will be the first of its kind in North America. Along with the Native Predators exhibit, the walk will expand the zoo's grounds by an acre in Sequoia Park. Once completed, it will allow guests to meander from tree to tree on suspended bridges 100 feet above the ground.

"The canopy walk will start at kind of a launch deck interpretive area, and it'll go along side the black bear coyote exhibit," Sequoia Park Zoo Director Gretchen Ziegler. "Then it will loop out over the ravines behind the zoo in Sequoia Park."

Ziegler says the Sequoia Park Zoo is the only one in the world that resides in a redwood forest, and their mission statement makes a point to celebrate the unique environment in which it's located.

"We want to just get people a little closer to that bio diversity and all that crazy life that's up there that we don't know really much about standing on the ground," Ziegler said. "It'll just be a really unique experience, and we hope that we'll get people super excited about why redwoods are so cool."

The zoo has raised $2.2 million dollars in funding to make the project possible. $500,000 came from a competitive grant that was awarded by the state of California and the Outdoor Environmental Education Facility Program. The remaining $1.7 million in funding came from a combined donation from the Eureka, Humboldt, and Arcata Lodging Alliances.

Being the only redwood canopy walk in North America once it opens, both people with the zoo and city officials hope the exhibit will draw visitors from all over the world.

"Everywhere that these canopy walks have been put in, the local economy has soared because of the tourists that want to have that experience," Ziegler said. "It's a very unique experience, and this will be the only one in the world like it. We anticipate that we will get worldwide visitors coming just for this."

"Three local lodging alliances have supported it, in part because they believe that it will increase people's likelihood to stay overnight in Eureka or in the Humboldt Bay area," Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo said. "That has an economic multiplier effect basically for our community. If people are staying overnight, they're paying lodging taxes, going out to eat, and shopping in our local stores, and so anything that can put heads in beds so to speak is positive for Eureka's economy."

Ziegler also said the Sequoia Park Zoo is still looking for another $4-6 million to afford everything they need to complete all facets of the Native Predators exhibit that will accompany the canopy walk.

Preliminary construction on the walk is set to begin this fall, and the zoo hopes to see it open in the spring of 2020.

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