TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The Toledo Zoo and ProMedica have announced a partnership to renovate the Zoo's 80-plus year-old Museum of Science.
The two organizations say the plan is to re-open the building as a natural history museum in the spring of 2019.
The Zoo says the facility will focus on the biodiversity of local habitats and wildlife throughout the course of history and their ties to their global counterparts.
Visitors to the museum can expect to experience Ohio 13,000 years ago, touch live animals, walk through a two-story sensory-rich tropical greenhouse and experience a 30-times larger-than-life oak forest.
The focus of the exhibits will be intrigue children and plant the seed of science, with hopes they will nurture a path in the science, technology, engineering, math and medicine world.
"A lot of the initial research and a lot of the initial drugs come directly from the natural world, and I think that's one of the reasons we often say it's important to save as many of these little nondescript animals that people may complain are holding up development or construction. We don't know what kind of potential pharmaceuticals they may have," said Jeff Sailer, president and CEO of the Toledo Zoo.
ProMedica is donating $3.5 million for the project and will assist in educating Museum visitors about the connections between human quality of life and well-being with natural biodiversity.
CEO of ProMedica Randy Oostra said they are also working on a program where doctors will be docents at the museum to help explain how animal science and human science are connected.
The partnership between ProMedica and the Toledo Zoo has been two years in the making. Sailer said this project was also made possible by voters who approved the levy in the last election.
Construction on the original building began in 1934, putting many local craftsmen to work during the Great Depression and utilizing re-purposed local materials including slate slabs from the Maumee River.
Throughout the renovation process, which began in the fall of 2017, the footprint and most of the framework of the historic building was kept intact. With the addition of the greenhouse on the front, the new facility will total 66,000 square feet.
The Zoo and ProMedica will update the public throughout the process of creating Toledo's newest place to learn and have fun.