It’s baaaaaaaaaack. The Joe Brain Petting Zoo and its lambs, litters and happy critters will be back for another summer season, starting next month.
The zoo will be back and operational after a one-year layoff last summer, said City recreation staff members.
“We will be opening for sure. Our opening day will be June 1,” said City of Flin Flon recreation programmer Kelcey Andersen. The City has already reached out to animal suppliers looking for new furry friends to bring to the zoo for the summer.
Some changes will be in store for the zoo itself. While the zoo had been free to the public in the past, an entry fee will be charged for this year - two dollars a head for all visitors of all ages. That money, Andersen said, will go toward paying for the animals’ care and feed.
Aside from that, it will be business as usual for the zoo, running from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, subject to change in poor weather.
The future of the zoo was in doubt last year, first as the City did not bring back animals and open the zoo as normal, instead using the fenced-in area as space for a temporary dog park. Reasons cited for the change included the possibility of construction of a replacement of the Flin Flon Aqua Centre on the old Willowpark Curling Rink site south of the zoo. Such a project would have meant cutting the zoo’s parking lot off from road access and possibly scaring animals and patrons alike with loud construction noise, but that project was delayed and later moved altogether during the summer.
In the fall, not long before the latest local election, previous city council members discussed possibly rezoning the land the zoo sits on in Willowvale Park, which would have allowed residential property to be built on the site. Councillors said the moves would not lead to the zoo being permanently closed, saying that the change would allow for a then-unknown real estate partner to build seniors’ housing on the site and that the zoo would be moved and reopened elsewhere if a land sale was agreed on.
The decision was met with public outcry over the possibility of a permanent closure of the zoo and a lack of public transparency on the project. The rezoning measure was not decided on at the time of the election last fall - to date, the new Flin Flon city council has not ruled on the change publicly, leaving the zoo land still zoned as “parks and recreation” in City planning.