9/11/15: Arctic Edge Ribbon Cutting at Buffalo Zoo Highlights Erie County Commitment

Modified: September 14, 2015 9:06am

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Poloncarz Cuts Ribbons at Buffalo Zoo  Poloncarz Speaks at Buffalo Zoo

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (fourth from right) joins officials to cut the ribbon and open the Buffalo Zoo’s Arctic Edge exhibit to the public; Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz addresses attendees at the opening of the Buffalo Zoo’s Arctic Edge exhibit.

Erie County Provides Largest Share of Public Funding for New Exhibit; $3 Million Investment Provides Impetus for Transformational Project

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Zoo President Donna Fernandes, Chair of the Buffalo Zoo Board of Directors Jonathan Dandes and other members of the Zoo Board, and enthusiastic community members at the Buffalo Zoo for the grand opening of the new Arctic Edge exhibit. Erie County invested $3 million in capital funding for the project, the largest governmental contribution to the exhibit, which will house the Zoo’s polar bears and other arctic species in a climate that replicates the Arctic Circle and which replaces the antiquated bear pits that had been at the Zoo for well over a century.

“Today’s grand opening of the Arctic Edge represents the fulfillment of an early promise made to the Buffalo Zoo, a promise that Erie County would play a prominent role in keeping polar bears here in Buffalo. I am proud to say we have kept that promise, and with an investment of $3 million the people of Erie County have sent a loud and clear message of support for this institution and for the natural wonders that live here,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “As I said in my ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ address, building a strong region means investing in our area’s quality of life, and this investment not only creates a modern habitat for the bears but will greatly increase tourist visits to the Zoo as people come to see life on the Arctic Edge. While Erie County was an early and active advocate for this project, I thank all the governmental partners, the private sector, and members of the public who invested in this new exhibit.”

More than 60,000 square feet in size, the $14 million Arctic Edge provides expansive living quarters for the Zoo’s polar bears and also adds exhibit space for Canadian lynx, arctic wolf, and bald eagle habitats. The landscape replicates the arctic features these species are accustomed to, such as natural boulders and a variety of substrates in each habitat. Additionally, the Arctic Edge includes two large saltwater pools, complete with underwater viewing, to allow visitors to see the polar bears as they swim, play, and go about their lives.

In addition to the $3 million in Arctic Edge funding provided by Erie County, the Zoo secured $1.085 million from the City of Buffalo, $776,000 from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, $750,000 from the NY Works Program, $400,000 from the WNY Senate delegation, $400,000 from the WNY Assembly delegation, $150,000 from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, and $15,500 from the Buffalo City Council.