Virginia Zoo now building new medical center

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jun 17, 2013

Norfolk, Va. - Getting animals the best care is at the top on the list for every zoo. Now with a new expansion, the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk will be able to do just that and the new medical center is also a new exhibit.

“This building can accommodate anything from the smallest shrew to the largest carnivore or great ape,” says Greg Bockheim, the executive director of the Virginia Zoo.

Bockheim gave NewsChannel 3 an exclusive look inside of the 11,000 square foot veterinary hospital and animal wellness campus.

It's been under construction since last summer.

“Because the zoo is expanding so much, we really needed to expand the facilities and what we provide for all of the animals here in the collection,” says Bockheim.

There's still a lot of work that has to be done.

But when this building opens early next year, zoo staff will have everything they need to care and treat the animals which is a big improvement from their current facility.

The animal care center at the Zoo has needed upgrades over the past several years. In fact, one room is not only used for surgery, but it`s also used for treatment of the animals. In the new building, there will be separate rooms for both."

Each room will also have its own heating and cooling and filtration systems, so disease won't spread between the animals.

What's even more unique is that visitors will be able to look through windows as doctors are treating some of the animals or staff members are preparing their food.

“It`s going to be like live reality television. So they can view in, watch our people,” says Bockheim.

And with that in mind, zoo officials want this building to be more than just a hospital. They also want it to an educational experience so people can learn more about the animals and how they're cared for.