Twin Falls Zoological Center is looking for sponsors

Center is looking at a Spring opening at the Magic Valley Mall
Executive director Joshua Dowding introduces a young visitor an 8 foot long boa.
Executive director Joshua Dowding introduces a young visitor an 8 foot long boa.(SK)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 12:56 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —A local non-profit organization is looking to go from rescuing animals to teaching people how to appreciate them more with a new Zoological Center planning to open soon at the Magic Valley Mall. But- right now they are asking the community for a little help.

Like P.T Barnum Magic Valley resident Joshua Dowding wants Idahoans to have an experience they never had before, and possibly learn something new along the way.

“Some people here will probably never see the ocean. Well, we have a tank with stingrays and saltwater, corals, and a live reef that they come and see in person first hand,” said Dowding. “They will see how incredible our oceans are, and why we should work to conserve and protect them.”

As executive director of the Twin Falls Zoological Center, Dowding wants visitors to be exposed to a variety of animals, from different regions, from all over the world. He estimates there will be more than 70 different species of animals.

He also said the center will be a second home and a fresh start for some animals. Many of the reptiles are rescues that the owners were no longer able to care for due to lifestyle changes. He added many local animal shelters do not have the resources to care for reptiles long-term. They have entirely different needs than cats and dogs.

“They require entirely different diets. They are from entirely different places in the world. Different humidity, different UV, and the shelter is not equipped to take whatever comes through the door,” Dowding said,

When the Zoological Center opens at the Magic Valley Mall they are going to have anywhere from 50 to 60 exhibits ranging anywhere from African Porcupines to an 8 foot, 40-pound boa.

“It’s a lot of fun for people who are like im not into snakes. I’m afraid of them. They are slimy,” Dowding said. “We teach them about it. Then all of the sudden they love snakes, and they want to adopt one.”

He said the Zoological Center is still a work in progress, as they are still constructing exhibits and acquiring animals. Right now they looking for sponsors whose contributions will go towards things like food and veterinary care of the animals.

“This will cover absolutely everything for one year, and we have projects from $800 to our stingray tank that is $80,000. In return for sponsorship, we offer advertising, plaques, and things like that.”

He said they want to build each exhibit as big as possible, and true to their native environment as possible. He said right now 15 of the exhibits are fully funded, and they have had some very generous donations from the public. Home Depot in Twin Falls donated lumber.

Ashley Caldwell and her daughter Sawyer sponsored a 30-year-old Macaw named Leroy. They jokingly said they are still trying to build a relationship with the bird, but they are really glad they sponsored Leroy and other people will have a chance to meet him.

“I have never seen a bird that big or anything that big up close that is human touchable. He’s huge. He is beautiful and his personality is really funny,” Caldwell said.

Sawyer said with a bright smile on her face that wants to visit the Zoological Center 10 million times.

He also said they are looking for a sponsor for their Educational Program. The program will bring educational presentations to schools, libraries, after-school programs, summer programs, senior care facilities at no cost to organizations requesting presentations. $5,000.00 provides access to 20 presentations.

Dowding said right now it looks like the center will open in the Spring at the Magic Valley Mall. He said they might start with 40 to 45 exhibits when they open and develop more exhibits as funds and animals become available.

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