Niabi Zoo Coal Valley Illinois

So recently I went with my family to our local zoo. Growing up it was always really exciting to see the elephants (Kathy sha boom) as well as the lions and other animals that one only sees in a zoo setting.

A few years ago things at our little zoo got pretty bad. It started with the wallabys. No one really noticed that they were not there anymore. One day, the zoo was forced to make a statement but only after a few other things happened. First it was the wallabys. Next was the elephants, then the lions and the jaguar. What happened? The original zoo director (not the first one but the good one). He left for better job opportunity and higher pay. After he left we lost our accreditation and things started moving. You see our zoo is controlled by the county.

So we lost our accreditation then wallabys started dying off. One survived and was sent back to the zoo that loaned him to us. After that the elephants were loaned to a zoo down south. It wasn’t until the zoo raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to save the elephants and to build the new enclosure to keep them. The county board sent them anyway. Where did the money go you ask? Well no one knows.

So after the elephants were sent down south the male lion got a lot of health issues. He’s old they said 20 or so. They began work on fixing the lion exhibit so they housed them in tiny cages. It was quite sad for more than a year. After they finally finished (at least 2 years later) they made a statement regarding the male lion not moving because of his diminished eyesight and his increasing old age he wouldn’t survive the move. So they split up the two females and the male that had been together for as long as I can remember. That didn’t last more than a few months and all of a sudden the male was back with the females in the new enclosure. What changes? The fence was redone that was all.

The male lion died then the jaguar was old so they put him down. We had a baby giraffe but it was stepped on and then they put the baby down due to complications with its leg. So I’m a few years there were all these issues. Then comes along the need for change.

We fired the director and hired a guy with an impressive resume. The old director took half the staff with him (good riddance). The new director came in and started working. He worked through the winter making plans and things. Last year he made minor changes to the grounds like making sure volunteers were out weeding and making things look more appealing. Then this year the promise of new animals.

We got Bactrian camels, and meerkats and other animals. Now we have fish and things. It’s really interesting to watch. What I’m not impressed with is you can’t call an exhibit oceans if you have fish and no cool animals of the sea. Another time. They claim to have over 40 new fish species and other animals he has brought in. My opinion is he is really trying to turn the zoo around. He is charging for parking which helps covers costs and he has added a learning experience for kids.

It makes it worth $8 plus $3 for the train, $2 to fee birds, $2 for carousel, $4 for a piece of lettuce to feed giraffes? I bought a membership because it’s cheaper if we go more than 3 times plus $3 parking adds up. (It’s free with membership) it now costs $17 to do most activities instead of $47.

If you enjoy big zoos, don’t bother but if you enjoy small quiet zoos then stop on by coal valley Illinois and check out our small hometown zoo.

It’s not great but it’s getting back to its roots.

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