A $2 million restoration of the former entrance to the Honolulu Zoo will get underway in the coming weeks, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today.
Renovation work on the Preis Building was identified as a requirement for the Honolulu facility to regain accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“It’s one of the boxes we needed to check,” Caldwell said.
The zoo won back accreditation in April, after the AZA refused to give Honolulu re-accreditation in 2016, citing the lack of a consistent source of funding for capital improvements and its failure to retain a director among the key reasons.
That November, Oahu residents gave the zoo a boost by voting to adopt an amendment to the City Charter requiring 0.5% of annual property tax revenues goes to a dedicated zoo fund. Director Linda Santos, a zoo employee since 1986, has led the facility since September 2017.
The building, first completed in 1962, was designed by Austrian architect Alfred Preis, who also designed the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. Caldwell noted that like the iconic memorial, the zoo structure features a dip in its roofline.
“It’s very important that we preserve this building because it tells stories of who we are,” the mayor said.
New comfort stations are a major feature of the renovation. Zoo visitors must now walk halfway onto the campus to find a restroom, and one closer to the entrance has been at the top of requests by the public, he said.
The renovation will also include new office space and classrooms, and a rehabilitation center for birds and other wildlife that show up at the zoo’s doorstep.
“We have lot of birds turned into the zoo,” Santos said, noting that many are migratory ones that come to the island’s shores. “We’re hoping this facility will make the transition a lot easier for the birds to get assessed, treated and re-released if they’re capable of being re-released.”
A notice to proceed on the project was issued on Nov. 30 and is expected to be done by the end of June.
MEI Corp. won the bid to conduct the work.
The new entrance, opened in 2011, will continue to serve as the public gateway into the 42-acre facility.