Arts & Entertainment

Lion and Hyena Exhibit Opens at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

b65e0d07c4c1d1754bea_20170612_121614.jpg
County Executive Joe DiVincenzo with Don Shauger of The Shauger Group, who built the lion exhibit Credits: Jessica Parkes
6def33e89372d9e47a3a_20170612_121802.jpg
County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo helps cut the ribbon at the new lion and hyena exhibit at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Credits: Jessica Parkes
77436d0143d7263529e0_20170612_120622_HDR.jpg
Ian Mount of Millburn, son of Ronal Mount, whom the exhibit was named for Credits: Jessica Parkes
ffec73646a815082ce64_20170612_121510.jpg
Kate Hartwick, Deputy Director of Essex County Parks Credits: Jessica Parkes
e47ba715db34a715039f_20170612_120138_HDR.jpg
Phil Alagia, chief of staff to county executive Credits: Jessica Parkes
008ec0d28a98e7d06ee2_20170612_120155.jpg
Turtle Back Zoo Director Michael Kerr Credits: Jessica Parkes
3c91f0834bb62a220ea8_20170612_120336.jpg
Turtle Back Zoo Director Michael Kerr Credits: Jessica Parkes
b700389945242d745b12_20170612_120958.jpg
Leonard Luciano, Essex County Freeholder Credits: Jessica Parkes
33be51dea00e1a1c20a4_20170612_121132.jpg
b65e0d07c4c1d1754bea_20170612_121614.jpg

WEST ORANGE, NJ As part of the expansion of the African Adventure-themed area of the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, which already includes Masai giraffes, the new Ronald J. Mount Lion and Hyena Exhibit was officially opened on June 12 with a celebratory ribbon cutting hosted by Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr.

According to DiVincenzo, the exhibit is named after the late Ronald Mount, who was a major supporter of the zoo and a member of the Zoological Society of New Jersey and the Volunteer Docents. He said Mount was a great advocate for the zoo and the he always wanted to bring in lions, the central figure on the Essex County Seal.

“Known as the King of the Jungle, the lions are one of the most recognizable and popular animals,” said DiVincenzo, adding that the lions will complement the giraffes and make the African Adventure exhibit more dynamic. “We are pleased to have partnered with [Ronald Mount’s] family to make his dream come true and create a first-class exhibit for the public to enjoy.”

Sign Up for E-News

The new half-acre exhibit is heavily landscaped and has a two-foot pool and exposed rock formation.

There are three stations for the public to view the animals—one of which is a heated stone patio to attract the lions so they can be easily seen and another is a heated one-story building at the rear of the exhibit designed to resemble an old North African fortress that has been returned to the wild.

"Lions and Hyenas interact in the wild and that is what we have tried to re-create here," said Turtle Back Zoo Director Michael Kerr. "What is also important is that both of these species are part of the AZA'S species survival plan so we can provide a genetically stable population for years to come.”

Mount became involved in Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in 2005 when he contributed to the development of the “Bears in Your Backyard” exhibit. The bear exhibit was the first major addition to the zoo during the DiVincenzo administration and marked the beginning of a number of exhibits designed to replicate the animals’ natural habitats. The 18,000-square-foot bear exhibit features two bears, named Jelly and Jam, and provides visitors with the experience that they are watching the bears from their own home.

Mount later joined the volunteer Docent Organization, which assists Turtle Back Zoo staff with educational and outreach programs and became a board member of the Zoological Society of New Jersey, the fundraising arm of the zoo. For his contributions, Mount was one of the honorees at the Turtle Back Zoo 50th Anniversary Gala in 2013. During the event, he and his grandson, Jasper, gave a speech to the more than 600 people in attendance.

"Turtle Back Zoo meant a great deal to my father and having lions here was always his dream,” said Ian Mount, Ronald Mount’s son. “It's a special day when I can show my children that there grandfather had such a meaningful role at the zoo. It's great that we can all enjoy this without going too far from home. I hope this exhibit opens with a roar.”

Mount was also involved in other philanthropic and civic activities, including founding the Ronald J. Mount Educational Foundation, which was his own personal legacy of supporting educational opportunities for deserving individuals; and serving as president of the American Cancer Association, president of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund in New Jersey and president of the Millburn Board of Education.

Professionally, Mount was a successful real estate investor and was involved in the commercial and residential real estate market in Naples, FL. Mount died on April 23, 2015.

French and Parrello from Wall, NJ, received a $350,000 contract to design the exhibit. Shauger Property Services from East Orange was awarded a publicly bid contract for $3,660,214 to perform the construction work.

The Essex County Public Works Department monitored the project so that delays were avoided. The exhibit was funded with a donation from Ian Mount as well as support from the Pooled Government Loan Program from the Essex County Improvement Authority. Construction began in October 2016 and was finished in seven months.

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo has roared back to life from the verge of closure by a previous administration. Attendance reached an all-time high of 795,558 in 2016 and the zoo has operated as a self-sustaining facility with revenue collected exceeding operating expenses for the last nine years.

In addition, Turtle Back earned its third five-year accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2016 and its first five-year accreditation from the Zoological Association of American in 2017, a clear indication that an institution is committed to the highest standards in animal care, ethics, conservation and education. It also has been named the “Best Zoo in New Jersey” by NJ Monthly magazine four times and received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.com three times.

The zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for children and senior citizens, and free for children younger than 2 years. For more information, call 973-731-5800 or visit www.essexcountynj.org/turtlebackzoo.

Related articles

Hodari, Beloved Giraffe at Turtle Back Zoo Has Died

Turtle Back Zoo's Newest Residents Tower Above their Neighbors

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

SOMA

South Orange Police Blotter: Robbery Reported on South Orange Avenue

June 16, 2018

South Orange Police Blotter as of June 16

Robbery - An Alpha, NJ resident reported that he was robbed on Sunday, June 3, at approximately 12:30 a.m. while he was walking on South Orange Avenue near Scotland Road. The victim stated that he was approached by three unknown actors who punched him and knocked him to the ground. The actors then stole his cell phone and wallet ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - Two Home Burglaries Reported

June 4, 2018, Burglary; Sometime during the daytime hours, a home on the 100 block of Midland Blvd was forcibly entered.  At the time of the report it was unknown what the proceeds were.

June 4, 2018; Thefts; During the overnight hours a metal rack was stolen from outside of a business on the 200 block of Elmwood Ave.

June 5, 2018; Motor Vehicle Theft; During the overnight hours, a van ...

Fifth Annual Two Towns Triathlon for Kids Postponed Until September Due to South Orange Pool Still Being Closed

June 14, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - The 5th Annual Two Towns Triathlon for Kids, originally scheduled to be held in South Orange on Saturday, June 16, has been postponed until Saturday, September 8, according to an update on the South Orange website. 

 

The postponement is because the South Orange Community Pool is still closed for the season due to construction delays with the filter ...

Second Year of Maplewood South Orange Book Festival Brings Authors and Readers Together

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Anna Quindlen. Rosemary Wells. Keith Hernandez. Tayari Jones. These are just a few of the authors who were speakers at the Second Annual Maplewood South Orange Book Festival on Saturday.

The book festival, which attracted about 2,000 attendees according to organizers, had a full day of author panels covering a wide range of topics that included "#MeToo: From ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_af1b89eae735bf536426_par440_promo

Fri, June 22, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Carousel_image_6f87fbcddb8c623bb6c0_downtown_after_sundown_2

Fri, June 22, 7:00 PM

Spiotta Park, South Orange

Jersey Swamp Cats in Downtown After Sundown

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, June 26, 6:30 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Memoir Writing Class at Millburn Library

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_af1b89eae735bf536426_par440_promo

Fri, June 29, 7:00 PM

Par 440 Restaurant & Lounge, Short Hills

The Extra Rich In Class Dinner Show with E.R.I.C.

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Lecia Bianca Jewels Creates a Bridge to Make Bloomfield Center the Next Style Destination

June 16, 2018

BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Bloomfield Center renaissance continues as Lecia Bianca Jewels becomes a style destination on main thoroughfare in this Essex County Community. Lecia Clay, owner of the boutique, describes her jewelry as 'bridge jewelry,' - pieces that are in a space between costume jewelry and fine jewelry, while having value. 

'Lecia Bianca' is the ...

Record Number Attends West Essex YMCA's Sixth Annual Bike Livingston

LIVINGSTON, NJ — On the heels of National Bike Safety Month in May, a new record of nearly 500 Livingston riders participated in the sixth annual Bike Livingston event, a family-oriented bike tour of Livingston’s neighborhoods hosted each year by the West Essex YMCA on the first Sunday in June.

With three routes to choose from—a four-mile route around the ...

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

June 19, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

Applications to Rutgers Jumps Nearly 10 Percent; Increase From Out-of-State Students

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Applications to Rutgers University this year increased 9.4 percent over last year, university President Robert Barchi told the Board of Governors at a meeting this week.

The university received nearly 45,000 applications this year, Barchi said.

That included a 20 percent increase in the number of students from outside New Jersey applying to Rutgers, the university ...

Maplewood Department of Public Works Employment Opportunity: Maintenance Worker

June 19, 2018

MAPLEWOOD DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

Title: Maintenance Worker – Parks/Shade Tree Dept.

Issue Date: 6/18/18       ...

Jersey Swamp Cats in Downtown After Sundown Friday, June 22

Dance under the stars to the swingin’ sounds of the Jersey Swamp Cats when the boys bring their patented piano and guitar driven blues and vintage rock’n roll to Spiotta Park, as part of the Sounds In Spiotta Park DAS concert series on Friday, June 22!

7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Spiotta Park, located on Village Plaza and South Orange Avenue.

 

Founder of Moms Helping Moms Foundation Receives NJ State Governor’s Jefferson Award

Each year the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards highlight the spirit of civic engagement among New Jersey’s 1.5 million volunteers and provide Jefferson Awards medals in 22 categories of volunteer service.   

The 2018 New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards presentation ceremony and celebration of volunteerism was held at the War ...