The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla., announced the opening of its newest addition: the Land of the Tiger. A special ribbon cutting ceremony occurred on 8 March. The event opened with a few words from the Zoo’s keynote speaker Mayor Alvin Brown as well as Executive Director Tony Vecchio, Chair of the Board of the Directors Dr. David Loeb, and Senior Vice President and head of branches for Chase in Jacksonville Steve Vachon. As part of the Land of the Tiger celebration, the winners of the Zoo’s Zootennial Drawing Contest were chosen. Elementary schools from Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties were asked to submit drawings of what the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens would look like in 2114. The art contest ran from January 20 to February 21 and the top three winning art pieces will be displayed at the Indoor Tiger Viewing Building. The Zoo also announced fifth-grader Joey E., from Mamie Agnes Jones (first place); second grader Morgan M., from Riverside Presbyterian Day School (second place) and second-grader Emory (Harold) D., from Seaside Community Charter School (third place), as the top three artists.
“The creative minds of children are priceless,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “To involve them and form that connection to their community can lead to an inspiring future for them as future leaders, conservationists, and zookeepers.”
The day also featured entertainment with craft tables, dancers, and magicians welcoming visitors to the Zoo’s most innovative exhibit. Land of the Tiger provides an immersive and interactive experience for guests to witness the different Asian animals of Land of the Tiger including Asian small-clawed otters, Visayan warty and Babirusa pigs, two species of Hornbills, and the rare and endangered Sumatran and Malayan tigers.