Burien Native Spearheading Effort To Save Zoo's Nocturnal House

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by Scott Schaefer

Scott Gifford was born and raised in Normandy Park, spent a lot of time in Burien, went to school and got his first job here and now works as an attorney in Seattle.

His passion now?

To “save the vampire bats!” (and other animals) which live in the Nocturnal House at Woodland Park Zoo.

Due to budget constraints, the Zoo is planning on shutting down this exhibit, which Gifford (and many others) consider to be its best. In fact, Gifford is so passionate about this cause that he’s spearheading a “Save the Nocturnal House” rally at the zoo this Sunday at 1pm (learn more about it at his Facebook page here, which has over 9,000 “Fans”).

“The Nocturnal House…is by far the best exhibit at the zoo and is pretty unique,” Gifford said. “While times are tough, we need to not lose the things that make the Zoo so great. For many this is their only chance to actually see the wonderful creatures that inhabit the nighttime world.”

The Nocturnal House contains many unique animals that are of course nocturnal, like bats, sloths, armadillos and others. If you’ve ever been through it, you know how unique it is – visitors must first stay in a darkened lobby to adjust their eyes, and are required to be very quiet as you meander through a winding hallway with glass enclosures on both sides. Once adjusted, you then enter a darkened, meandering hallway where you can watch bats hanging upside-down, sloths scampering around and much more on both sides. Its a favorite of children and adults, but was built in the 70s and is in a rundown building.

According to a press release from the zoo:

“The Night Exhibit is very expensive to operate. It is an older building with very high operating costs and its energy use is one of the highest in the zoo and inconsistent with our sustainability goals. We knew we could place some of the animals elsewhere in the zoo, and move others to other zoos.

Over the next two to three years, we will re-examine the building to come up with a long-term, sustainable operation.

Closing it will save about $300,000 in operating costs annually.”

Gifford is asking folks who are interested in saving this exhibit to show up at the zoo this Sunday at 1pm for a rally in front of it. If you can’t attend, Gifford adds:

“You could also make a donation to the zoo and state that it is for saving the Nocturnal House. A monthly one even that you will stop if they do shut it down. Show them that we not only love the Nocturnal House, but are willing to step up and help with the cost of maintaining it.”

To donate to the Zoo online, click here.

“Save the vampire bats!!!” says Gifford.

And he’s not joking.

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10 Responses to “Burien Native Spearheading Effort To Save Zoo's Nocturnal House”
  1. Patti says:

    Great article. There are now almost 9,500 supporters. Growing over a 100 an hour.
    Hope everyone will come out to the zoo this Sunday at 1. Go to the FB link and join the campaign.

  2. Thor says:

    Scott Gifford, way to go man. What a great cause you have made the public aware of. These are animals that us humans never get to see. The Nocturnal House is one of the best and unique exhibits at the zoo. What are they (the board) thinking. With this tremendous out pouring to not close this exhibit, I can not imagine the zoo board not reconsidering this incredibly unpopular decision.

  3. Sandy says:

    Scott – thanks for bringing this issue to our attention. The Zoo is one of our city’s greatest assets and the Nocturnal House is unique, educational, and yes, entertaining. When I was a kid we donated our “pennies” to help the zoo buy an elephant – Fifi. Being part of that always gave me a special affiliation with the zoo. Here is an opportunity for all of us “kids” to do something special for the zoo. I understand the difficult job of budget crunching, but $300K seems like a reasonable amount to keep such a great exhibit open. I’m in and I should mention that Scott is my nephew and the zoo was a favorite place his Dad (my brother – Mike) use to take him to. Mike has passed away, but he would be so proud of Scott, as am I.

  4. Kim says:

    I think it is a great cause Scott. You are well spoken and make good points. I hope that this works. The mystery of being quiet and it being dark really make it an experience kids remember.

  5. barbara diamond says:

    Barbara says: Good work Scott!! This is well worth savings!. I am sure there are other ways they could trim the budget and keep this wonderful exhibit!!! Where do I send a donation? Thanks for getting involved with this good cause.!!! Grams

  6. Lindsey says:

    While I’m not a fan of ‘vampires,’ I do like bats and other nocturnal animals. My preference to see these animals is in a zoo rather than, say my house.

    If a big problem is the house itself, why can’t we just rely on volunteers to build a new one? Like Habitat for Nocturnal Animals.
    I have many memories of the Nocturnal house and it would be a real shame to let it go.

  7. tiffany says:

    Way to go Scott! thats always been my favorite place to go at the Zoo! since i was a little girl, my kids too! i had NO idea they were going to close it! i pray they dont! its what makes that Zoo!!!
    thanks Scott!

  8. Scott

    Way to go. Having a passion is wonderful and exciting. I wish you all the best.
    I will not be able to attend Saturday; however, I will pass this along to others. If you will need any manual labor to make this happen let me know. Your mother knows me well. Congratulations on your success!

  9. Patti says:

    Save the Woodland Park Nocturnal House: Everyone should go to the WPZoo’s web page and post your comments on keeping the Nocturnal House. Click on Just Fans. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=411576415088&ref=ts#/WoodlandParkZooSeattle?ref=ts

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