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VIDEO: Zoo Atlanta Begins Construction On New $22M Rollins Animal Health Center

Tue August 29, 2023 - Southeast Edition #22
Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta began construction on a new $22 million veterinary complex, the Rollins Animal Health Center, with a ceremonial groundbreaking in late July.

In its newest phase of transformation, Zoo Atlanta said in a news release that the veterinary complex "will redefine standards of excellence in zoo animal medicine, state-of-the-art technology, research and academic partnerships."

Work is already ramping up on the zoo's veterinary complex, designed to be a hub for zoo animal medicine, research and academic partnerships.

The construction, funded in part by a $3 million investment from the Gary W. Rollins Foundation, led Zoo Atlanta to name the facility after Rollins, announced Raymond B. King, the animal habitat's president and CEO.

Prior to beginning construction, officials with Zoo Atlanta had already raised nearly $21 million toward its funding goal for the vet facility.

In addition to the gift from the Rollins Foundation, donations of $1 million or more came from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, A Friend of the Zoo, the Marcus Foundation, the Sara Giles Moore Foundation and The Zeist Foundation.

"The Zoo Atlanta Veterinary Team daily provides care for animals representing more than 200 species, from elephants to frogs, and this care is never compromised," King told the guests attending the kickoff event. "The Rollins Animal Health Center will replace outdated facilities and enable the zoo to fully inhabit its growing reputation for excellence in veterinary care. We are deeply grateful to the members of our philanthropic community, who have shown us by their gifts that they have a strong investment in Zoo Atlanta's indelible place in Atlanta and beyond."

According to the zoo, the Rollins Animal Health Center will be a dramatically enhanced replacement for the park's existing veterinary facilities, which in recent years have been significantly outstripped and outclassed by not only the park's world-class veterinary team, but also the outstanding commitment and groundbreaking work that are hallmarks of its vet program.

Designers have planned the Rollins Animal Health Center to include dedicated laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, treatment and surgical spaces. In addition, it will have a CT scanner, interior and exterior animal holding dens, a food preparation kitchen, five animal quarantine dens with dedicated care team member access, and dedicated food preparation areas as well as office and conference space for the veterinary team, and a necropsy suite.

Animal health center's plans also call for a second floor with two dorm rooms, restrooms, and laboratory working space in the event Zoo Atlanta veterinary team members need to stay overnight or the facility is hosting visiting colleagues or students.

The building project's joint general contractors are Turner Construction Co., a global firm with an Atlanta office, and Sandy Springs, Ga.-based FS360, with architectural design by Torre Design Consortium Ltd.

The zoo animal health center has a built-in goal of achieving a LEED Certification of Silver or Gold.

According to Zoo Atlanta, construction is expected to be completed by summer 2024.

Enhancements to Upgrade Research, Academic Partnerships

Zoo officials noted that the Rollins Animal Health Center also will greatly expand the animal habitat's capabilities for research, professional externship and internship opportunities, and other collaborations with academic partners across the state of Georgia.

They include Agnes Scott College, Emory University, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University, Morehouse College, the University of Georgia in Athens, the University of North Georgia, Gwinnett Technical College and Fort Valley State University.

Zoo Atlanta is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare. The park has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education and engaging experiences.

Spread across more than 40 acres southeast of downtown Atlanta, the zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing hundreds of species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. It is home to giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the United States, as well as one of North America's largest zoological populations of great apes, and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians.

Recent work within Zoo Atlanta included the addition of the African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, bontebok, warthogs, meerkats and rhinos. Additionally, Savanna Hall, a special event destination in the newly restored historic former home of the Atlanta Cyclorama, and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Plaza, also are open to the public.

Mayor Andre Dickens and other officials and guests attend the July 27, 2023, groundbreaking of the Rollins Animal Health Center. (Zoo Atlanta photo)

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