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New children’s barn a ‘capitol’ idea

By Jan Basina

There soon will be a place at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison dedicated to all things children.

Thanks to a donation from the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, children of all ages will be able to get up-close and personal with the goats, sheep, pigs, alpaca and other animals that will eventually call a new barn at Children’s Zoo home. The barn will also have a replica silo, windmill and tractor for kids to frolic.

And to add to everyone’s excitement, adjacent to the barn, a new outdoor exhibit will feature those menacing birds of prey, and other animals, that we all enjoy watching.

National Construction Inc., Blue Mounds, the general contractor on the project, is building the 3,500-square-foot “green” barn. Using post and beams from sustainable forests, the design will offer excellent insulation for the barn. And thanks to a $20,000 donation from Research Products Corp., nine geothermal wells are being dug on-site with solar panels which will also help heat the barn during the winter months.

The $1.3 million project is expected to create about 50 jobs and be completed by winter. No date has been set for the opening of the barn, but it’s anticipated that families will be able to explore the new barn sometime in early 2011.

Agriculture happens to be a $3 billion a year business in Wisconsin, according to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. So what could be more natural than to have a barn at the free zoo located in our state’s capitol.

Jan Basina is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at (414) 225-1817.

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