GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Grand Valley Zoological Quest (GVCQ), a local nonprofit focused on education for all ages, is one step closer to building a zoo in Fruita.
And to help the project along, last week the City of Fruita committed 10 acres of land in a "memorandum of understanding." That means the acreage (which is located near the Dinosaur Journey Museum on Raptor Road in Fruita) is dependent on the group's ability to fundraise $500,000 in support, Fruita Chamber staffer Robbie Urquhart said.
"We want to give them every opportunity to succeed," Fruita Mayor Lori Buck said. "The land is there. The memo of understanding proves they have a strong partner, which will help them have greater strength in grant writing."
It won't be a traditional zoo, Buck added, "with lions, tigers and bears." Rather, it will be an indoor educational zoological center, with interactive exhibits and smaller animals.
GVCQ Executive Director Janet Gardner said the zoo center will feature a variety of creatures, like "tortoises sauntering around," and the indoor exhibits will give off "the relaxing feeling of being in the jungle."
"Any animal considered dangerous would be behind a naturalistic barrier," she noted.
GVCQ - which Gardner said is "a young nonprofit devoted to education, conservation, and research" - has worked with more than 12,000 students since January 2011. Right now, the group provides educational programs in conjunction with Dinosaur Journey, Mesa County School District #51, Colorado State Parks, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and more.
The local nonprofit has already raised more than $110,000, and naming rights to the zoo and its exhibits are currently available. The project will likely be done in phases as funding allows.
"If everything goes as planned, we could be open by the end of 2014," Gardner added.
For more information about Grand Valley Zoological Quest, visit www.gvzooquest.org.