A ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Bald Eagle Exhibit at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo was held on Wednesday, March 10.

“We are pleased to open a new and improved Bald Eagle Exhibit in our Wild New Jersey area. This will enhance our visitors’ experience and provide them with a better viewing area to see the bald eagles,” DiVincenzo said.

A new resident of the exhibit will be Freedom, a 4-year-old bald eagle that was rescued from a tree in Minnesota after becoming tangled in rope and branches. “Welcoming Freedom as the newest member of our animal family displays the important role that zoos have in conservation efforts and raising awareness about the dangers that threaten wildlife and the environment,” he added.

The Bald Eagle Exhibit was damaged during a storm in 2019. Since the exhibit was created as part of the Wild New Jersey area in 2007, animal care standards have evolved. To repair the exhibit and update its design to meet current requirements, a new Eagle Exhibit was created. The tree in the center of the exhibit provides the eagles with a place to perch and an accompanying structure provides indoor space to hold the birds if they ever need to be removed the exhibit area.

Work started in August 2020 and took five months to complete. “As the new Turtle Back Zoo director, it is exciting to be opening a new exhibit and welcoming an animal with such a compelling story,” said Jillian Fazio.

“Thank you to County Executive for giving me this opportunity and for his continued investment to make Turtle Back the family-friendly and educational resource it has become,” she added.

The engineering firm of French and Parrello from Wall received a professional services contract for $81,500 to design the new exhibit and provide inspection services during construction. ZN Construction from Saddle Brook was awarded a publicly bid contract for $1,272,000 to perform the construction work.

The project was funded with a grant from the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund.

Turtle Back Zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for senior citizens older than 62 and children ages 2 to 12, and free for children younger than 2. To promote social distancing, tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, visit https://turtlebackzoo.com/ or call 973-731-5800.

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