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Roger Williams Zoo opens updated and expanded veterinary hospital

May 21, 2011

Photo by Anthony aRusso Roger Williams Park Zoo officially opened its new John J. Palumbo Veterinary Hospital this week, the latest of the zoo's master plan projects to reach completion. The new hospital is more than triple the size of the old one and offers improved facilities and equipment to care for the Zoo's more than 100 species of animals, including the largest of all, the elephants.

PROVIDENCE – Roger Williams Park Zoo officially opened the brand new John J. Palumbo Veterinary Hospital on Monday. The hospital is the latest aspect of the zoo’s $35 million ongoing master plan project to be completed.

A significant upgrade from the old hospital, the new one has updated facilities and equipment and more than three times the space to care for the multitude of animals at the zoo.

A ceremony to officially open the hospital was held Monday morning. Rhode Island Zoological Society (RIZS) Board Chair Cate Roberts, RIZS founder Sophie Danforth and Zoo Director Jack Mulvena were on hand to cut the ribbon.

"Although other projects in our master plan are much more visible and exciting to the public, this one is the most important in ensuring continued top-notch care for our animals," said Mulvena. "The core responsibility of any zoo is to provide the best possible lives for the animals in its care. At Roger Williams Park Zoo we are proud to have a history of providing a high level of care for all our animals and this new hospital will enable us to continue to meet that standard of excellence into the future."

The hospital will be dedicated to and named after former board chair of the RIZS, John J. Palumbo, for his many years of service.

The former hospital at the zoo had many shortcomings and the staff was faced with significant limitations. Mainly, the size of the hospital was insufficient. It was also located beneath a working barn, so the conditions were far from ideal.

The new hospital is over three times lager than its predecessor and provides adequate facilities throughout. Some of the major upgrades include an expanded animal care center for sick and quarantined animals and a brand new state-of-the-art surgical suite.

Stephanie Chafee, former Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Society and current Trustee, along with Sophie Danforth, provided the lead gifts for the hospital's construction. The Helen Walker Raleigh Animal Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, the Marie Keese LeLash Foundation, various individual donors and bond monies approved by Rhode Island voters in 2006 provided other funding.

While the budget for the hospital was $3.8 million, the final coast was $3.75 million.

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