Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Major New Building Project Announced at Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo

July 30, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive, 267-8823 or 669-5606; Boris Frank, Friends of the Zoo, 258-9490, or Jim Hubing, Zoo Director, 266-4708.
County Executive

Dane County Executive, Madison Mayor, Zoological Society

Kick-off Construction of Children’s Barn


Local officials helped kicked off construction of a brand new “green” building at the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo on Friday.  Thanks to a generous private donation from the Rennebohm Foundation, the zoo will soon be home to a new Children’s Zoo Barn and new animal exhibits.

The new barn is being built in the Children’s Zoo and once complete will be home to goats, sheep, pigs, alpaca, and other animals exhibited year round in both indoor and outdoor exhibits.  The barn will also have a replica silo, windmill, and tractor for kids to climb on.  Adjacent to the barn will be new outdoor exhibits to host birds of prey and other birds and animals.

“Wisconsin is the dairy state and agriculture is a $3-billion a year business in Dane County so it’s only natural our free zoo have a barn full of animals!” County Executive Kathleen Falk said.  “Thanks to the generosity of the Rennebohm Foundation, our zoo will have a great new attraction and continue to be the best destination for free family fun!”

Falk noted this year the zoo is setting records for attendance - - drawing nearly 100,000 visitors a month.

“Thanks to generous contributions from the Rennebohm Foundation, our community will have another great addition to the Vilas Zoo,” Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. “The Children’s Zoo Barn will be a great new attraction for more and more families that enjoy the zoo every year.”

Construction of the 3500 square foot barn will cost $1.3-million and create around 50 jobs.  It’s being built using post and beams from sustainable forests.  That design offers excellent insulation and nine geothermal wells being dug on-site along with solar panels will also help heat the barn through winter.

Research Products is donating $20,000 to assist in construction of that geothermal technology.

“The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation wishes to thank Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the County Board and the City of Madison for the tremendous support it has given to the Vilas Zoo,” Steve Skolaski of the Rennebohm Foundation said.  “We are proud of our association with the Children's Zoo and pleased with the progress zoo staff and the Friends of the Zoo have made in bringing this project to reality while completing planning for the Arctic Passage.  These efforts will make the Zoo the CROWN JEWEL for all Dane County visitors,” Skolaski added.

National Construction Inc. of Blue Mounds is the general contractor on the Children’s Zoo Barn project.  Construction is expected to be completed by winter and the barn is slated to open to visitors in early 2011.


# # #

Back to Press Releases