Franklin Park to get new children's zoo

Part of the new children's zoo at Franklin Park

Rendering by Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc./Main Street Design /Coyle & Caron, LLC.

Zoo New England and city officials today announced plans for a new $6.6-million children's zoo that will feature a number of outdoor animal exhibits and both indoor and outdoor classroom spaces to introduce kids to animals and the environments they live in.

Mayor Walsh was on hand for the announcement, which included news that the city's George Robert White Fund is kicking in $3 million towards the cost of construction. Zoo officials said they have already raised another $1.5 million.

By comparing ecosystems to neighborhoods, children can explore various habitats and discover the roles that living creatures, including themselves, play in healthy, thriving environments. Featured animal exhibits will include red pandas, North American river otters, prairie dogs and many more.

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    Comments

    red pandas

    red pandas

    YES!!!

    Er- I mean- *ahem* ...the children will surely love these new creatures.

    EDIT: Don't they already have Red Pandas? IIRC, they always hide in the small box inside their small enclosure. Will they be getting a nicer enclosure? Like the one they have at... er, I think it is Southwick Zoo?

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    I think you mean Stoneham Zoo

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    I think you mean Stoneham Zoo. It is a sad place and it seems Franklin Zoo got more of the funding through the years. If you've ever been to Stoneham Zoo, I find it sad. The workers are wonderful and do a very good job but it sure could use more funding.
    Years ago the Globe had compared the funding between the two and Franklin always seemed to get much more.

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    Stoneham improvements

    Last year, Stoneham was looking much better! They have a new black bear enclosure, too, and the zoo as a whole seems like it's on the rise again.

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    Good

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    The zoo has never got the money it should, just because of the neighborhood it is in.

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    Ditto for Franklin Park. The

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    Ditto for Franklin Park. The city mostly gave up on it once the area developed a reputation for crime. They let a jewel tarnish when having it shine could do a ton to improve things for the surrounding neighborhoods.

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    I written it before

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    And I'll write it again, Franklin Park is in pretty good stape. They redid the ballfields by White Stadium a year ago, along with reconstruction of parts of the circuit path. It's a great park, and I look forward to running in it again this year.

    I was driving down Seaver Street this afternoon, in fact, pondering how much the apartments overlooking the park could go for if conditions changed a little bit. Of course, I would feel bad for those who have those units and appreciate them were they kicked out, but still, were it the Fens they would fetch much money.

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    Casey Overpass

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    with the overpass coming down, it'll be a nice long walk / short bike ride from forest hills - plus all the development happening around there would help focus some interest in the area - now if the city can just force the MBTA to relocate that bus yard...

    One of my dreams is to be to be able to bike with my family from Roslindale to the zoo... that would be nice - it would also be nice if people could bike there from all over the city with their families. I might be waiting for a while, but I'm hoping it'll happen within my lifetime.

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    I can help you with that dream

    My daughters, ages 6 & 3, and I bike to the zoo from Rozzie at least once per week in the summer and once per month in the winter. It's a geat ride. I'll be happy to show you our route, if it'd help you feel safer.

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    But the traffic circle affects accessibility

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    I'm one of those "replace the overpass with an overpass" people, but even I have to admit that if you don't know what you are doing (like the runners I saw on Saturday), getting from Forest Hills to the park is tough mainly due to the traffic circle. Even I will be glad when that madhouse gets calmed. I might know how to walk from A to B, and I've driven it enough times, but spinning around that circle on a bicycle would scare the bejeezus out of me.

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    Soon to become Shea Square, maybe

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    The state highway people have to convince the state historic people that converting the rotary into a more traditional intersection, with crossing lights and everything, is worth the apparent historic harm that would be done by eliminating what is, apparently, a historic rotary.

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    shea circle

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    From what I understand, it wasn't even part of the original project until locals petitioned MassDOT to do something about it. This is what makes the MHC hold-up so weird.

    If I were in charge, they'd

    By on

    If I were in charge, they'd replace or fix the overpass, and remove or rebuild the rotary to modern standards that include pedestrian and bike accommodations.

    right.

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    This was one of issues I was alluding to. Shea circle is a death trap for peds and cyclists (and even cars), and riding up washington street (or hyde park ave, for that matter) isn't exactly the most pleasant bike ride to get to forest hills (buses and large trucks, high chances of dooring, people driving into the bike lane without looking to get around left-turning vehicles) - especially if I want to be carting around a kid. Where else would I go? American Legion - the place where people drag race?

    that "hill" isn't an issue - it's the few dangerous intersections you have to go through just to get to circuit drive.

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    Okay, here you go

    There's no need to bike in Shea Circle.

    To get from the station to the zoo, you cross Arborway on the crosswalk by Forest Hills, go up the sidewalk, cross Washington in the crosswalk, go past the ugly T building, turn left on Forest Hills Street, and enter the park on the path across from Williams Street, crossing under the underpass to get on the sidewalk the other side of Circuit Drive.

    Not supposed to bike on sidewalk

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    Good idea, though. Doing that, you could also go the wrong way up Morton Street and cross on the faded crosswalk by the senior housing complex (my running route.) Sure drivers don't know about the crosswalk, but you break up the cross and drivers are sometimes quite nice about stopping.

    The other day I saw 2 runners crossing via the center of the circle. That's Darwinian.

    Close

    Not supposed to bike on sidewalk in business district.
    Which this is not.

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    but for people not familiar with the area

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    this still isn't so good - I guess I could eventually figure out a safe route through trial and error (like it took me a couple months to figure out a safe biking route to work), but how do you expect casual visitors to figure this out? They'll just keep doing crazy things like crossing shea circle in the middle. the user route priority here is completely backwards - there are no visual cues as to how someone on a bike or by foot is supposed to navigate this area.

    also - sending me a half mile out of my way isn't exactly good either...

    I think the point got confused

    By on

    The overpass isn't the problem, if the issue is accessing Franklin Park. Go to Forest Hills and turn right (from Roslindale). Shea Rotary, on the other hand, I would fear going through on a bike myself, let alone with kids.

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    no - it is a problem

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    it's a huge visual/psychological barrier in the area - if you are actively trying to figure out a way to get to franklin park (or even the arboretum) from forest hills - by foot - or by bike, it's a very foreboding structure to attempt to navigate around; you can hear cars, but you can't see them - there are sketchy characters hanging out under the dark and dank approaches... the icing on the poor access cake is shea circle.

    just a quick look in google streetview:

    https://maps.google.com/?ll=42.301317,-71.109728&spn=0.002974,0.004624&t...

    gee - I wonder what those guys are doing under there... pretty sure it isn't legal. If you're around there enough you know they typically keep to themselves (although I did recently have a scary experience around there when I was with my kid), but what about visitors coming from forest hills? If you encounter something like that once it makes you never want to walk in the area again.

    Chidren's Zoo

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    How many years am I allowed to leave mine on exhibit?

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    If it's free, then sure

    Never been a fan of public zoos - or should I say, of paying for a zoo. I was so happy when the Commonwealth backed out of supporting the zoos and turned them into non--profits.

    Does anyone know if the city / state contributes to Zoo New England?

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    They do not

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    Zoo New England gets no state funds at all- although I'm of the mind that they should.

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    Hmm ...

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    One of the zoo's board members said yesterday Zoo New England still gets state aid, just nowhere near what they used to, and that they're trying to restore the funding to what it used to be a few years ago (somebody correct me if I'm wrong, I don't have my notes in front of me, but I think he said they get like $2 million now, compared to $5 million a few years ago). He even joked about how he always tells legislators when he meets with them now it'd be a shame if he'd have to bring Little Joe with him to the next meeting.

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    The zoo's charter says it's

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    The zoo's charter says it's supposed to have free admission forever.

    At some point they started collecting voluntary donations, and at another point, voluntary became mandatory.

    Native animal exhibits

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    I'd love to see exhibits of native animals so children can learn about what lives just outside the Zoo in Franklin Park's 220-acre forest. Wild turkeys, a red fox, coyotes, hawks, owls, possum, and more!

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    But why

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    ..put a bunch of local critters in cages when you can just teach children nature lore and cognitive skills that will allow each to make their own personal nature discoveries without the expense or ludicrous cruelty.

    I routinely explore around here and have a video clip of a deer in Alewife.

    I've seen dawn raccoons in Union Square, Somerville and coyote tracks over by the North Station rail complex, Herons are everywhere there's a bit of wet deep enough for aquatic food and so on.

    Modern zoos are kind of a quaint remnant from the Victorian era.

    I'll tentatively go along with the rationale that endangered species might benefit from some kind of recovery/study quarantine in some zoo-ish containment zone but watching some depressed exotic in a box is sort of wretched compared with a simple glimpse of a cardinal free in a tree in its peak spring plumage red as it works the mating angles.

    One of the fascinating aspects of being in a place where hunting is in decline and habitat protection has been ramped up is just how readily species that were once rarely spotted or unusual are now hilariously common and making interesting adaptations to urban living.

    We even get the occasional lost moose following the Charles and its only a matter of time before a bear wanders in.

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    Local wildlife indeed

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    I'll do you one better: I live less than a block south of Franklin Park, and on Saturday my lawn was overrun by wild turkeys--must have been 8 of those suckers strutting around like they owned the place.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, $5 to come see the turkeys on my lawn. Way cheaper than zoo admission. I'll even waive the admission fee if you promise to take one of those vicious hellbirds away with you when you go.

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    Hahaha...

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    Yeah... I was startled by a bunch of em in trees near Russell Park in Cambridge.

    They are everywhere.

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    Franklin Park is really nice.

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    Franklin Park is really nice. Might get the membership this year. There is a great play area for kids, peacocks roaming free, and conveniently located! Always able to find parking. Looking forward to children's zoo! (Shocked that nobody pointed out that it is in Dorchester and not Roxbury.)

    Jamaica Plain, actually

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    The park was originally called West Roxbury Park, the zoo area being by the old town line.

    Sorry, there haven't been bicycle stories in a while, and the parade thing is going away, so I figured I'd add neighborhood boundaries to the mix of things people get passionate about.

    Nope, Jamaica Plain

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    See what I did there?

    The entrance is across the street from Dorchester, so from a practical perspective, Dorchester. But the entrance is in Jamaica Plain.

    It's like those stores on Comm Ave. that are in Brookline, though their sidewalk is in Boston.

    Maybe, maybe not

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    02121 actually extends a bit into Roxbury north of Seaver Street. Same thing happens north of Melnea Cass, which is still Roxbury even with an 02118 Zip code.

    I respect the old town lines

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    And the whole park was part of the Town of West Roxbury. Of course, the area by the gas station at American Legion was also in West Roxbury, so I have to call that Roslindale, I guess.

    And I'm happy I got this non sequitur going.

    Much better than some of the other things going on on this site. As long as we all love the park, all is well.

    All zoos should be closed

    All zoos should be closed down permanently. Leave the animals alone and in their natural habitat. If they’re ill or harmed while in the wild, place them in a sanctuary away from the public and the endless torment of bratty kids screaming and poking at them. If your kids want to learn about animals, spend some time with them using the internet or better yet, read a book with them.

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    Yes, close the zoos!

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    But it would be nice to give some discreet access to animals kept in more natural environments due to injury, breeding programs etc. Make it as natural as possible for wild animals and otherwise have some petting zoos for domesticated animals.

    Uhm, okay

    If your kids are screaming and poking animals, you're the problem. Maybe you should raise your kids with some respect. The zoo isn't there for kids to scream and poke, it's there for them to enjoy, to learn, and to be fascinated by the natural world. I'm sure plenty of people out there working with animals, saving animals, and protecting ecosystems were inspired by their experiences in visiting zoos and learning about beautiful, endangered animals and ecosystems. Zoos are not horrible in theory, just in the way they sometimes come to fruition. So shut up, thank you, bye.

    Zoos in small urban areas are problematic w/o visitors

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    The lions are in concrete enclosures 24/7, guy. Doesn't matter if kids are there or not. I'm sure plenty of kids were inspired to work with and save animals just by vivid descriptions of them in books and by teachers. It's 21st century. If they can make a holographic Tupac for the heads at Coachella can can make holographic animals for school kids.

    Shut your own hole, rude bastard.

    So ALL zoos?

    Zoos in small urban areas

    That's not all zoos.

    concrete enclosures

    That's also not all zoos.

    Just because you have a problem with the details of a particular zoo or a few zoos does not translate into "ban all zoos" unless you just lack the imagination to think of anything better. Call it a preserve or whatever you want, but it is a bit absurd to think things can't be improved, to the benefit of both people and the animals.

    Yes and bring back

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    gladiator combat in a new Colosseum because we should never evolve past anachronistic hangovers just because we found better ways to convey an experience.

    There are surely all manner of potential improvements there as well.

    Wheel reinvention makes the world go 'round.

    Better

    Oh, come on. What's better than gladiator combat in a Colosseum?

    White Stadium would be packed to the rafters!
    Then the zoo could afford a better lion than that mangy, asthmatic throw rug they have now. You can never tell whether he's trying to roar or coughing up a hairball.