NEW BEDFORD — The Buttonwood Park Zoo’s former Aquatics building will be named Rainforests, Rivers and Reefs sponsored by Stoico/FIRSTFED when it opens its doors this July.

The announcement of the $400,000 gift and naming was made today by Keith Lovett, the Zoo’s Director. Lovett, was joined by Mayor Jon Mitchell and City Council President Joe Lopes in thanking the Robert F. Stoico/FIRSTFED Charitable Foundation for their generous support and commitment to the Zoo and the City of New Bedford.

Robert Stoico, who founded the Stoico/FIRSTFED foundation, stated, “The Stoico/FIRSTFED Foundation is excited and proud to support the Buttonwood Park Zoo in its redevelopment plans. The new Rainforests, Rivers and Reefs building, that will bear our name, will both intrigue and educate the Zoo's visitors on the natural world beyond our borders while also teaching the important message of conservation of water and endangered species. The Zoo is a historic landmark in the community and has been providing generations of families with lifelong memories; we are honored to be part of their effort to connect, inspire and protect."

The new exhibit will be the first built at the Zoo in over 15 years and the first major project to get underway for the Zoo’s master plan, a 12-15 year campaign to completely redevelop the Zoo’s seven-acre campus. The funding signifies the largest gift ever received by the Zoological Society, which is the non-profit that supports the mission of the Buttonwood Park Zoo.

The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 million. Lovett also recognized the City of New Bedford and other donors whose support has contributed to the building of this world-class exhibit.

Rainforests, Rivers and Reefs will recreate habitats of the river systems of South America and ocean habitats from the North Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions. The building will house over 100 mammals, reptiles and birds. Some of the more recognizable species include Cotton-top tamarin, Goeldi’s monkeys, two-toes sloths, lion fish and octopus.

Rainforests, Rivers and Reefs sponsored by Stoico/FIRSTFED is scheduled to open in July.

--Buttonwood Park Zoo

See a gallery of some of the species that will be housed in the new exhibit:

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