Black Pine Animal Park gets new lease but needs money to rebuild

Black Pine Animal Park gets new lease but needs money to rebuild

ALBION, Ind. – The Black Pine Animal Park has been offered a new lease to relocate to a former Noble County 4-H park, but officials say they need to raise at least $200,000 to build a new sanctuary, which would house dozens of bears, tigers and other animals.

The animal sanctuary’s board recently voted to relocate after failing to reach a deal with park co-founder Brad Bonar to buy property that includes both the sanctuary and Bonar’s home.

But Noble County commissioners on Monday signed a 40-year lease that will allow the animal sanctuary to lease 18 acres of land formerly used by the county’s 4-H program.

“We just have to sign the lease,” said Lori Gagen, Black Pine’s director of development.

Now the focus turns to raising enough money to build a new facility before October, when the park must move.

The project’s first phase includes winter housing for its 86 rescued and retired exotic animals, which will cost between $200,000 and $250,000, Gagen said.

A Fort Wayne event in May by zoologist Jack Hanna raised an estimated $10,000 for the relocation project. The park received a $50,000 anonymous matching gift last week from a family estate, and park officials are planning a fundraiser in August or September.

Gagen said she plans to apply for more than 20 grants from national foundations.

The second phase will include permanent housing and exhibits for the animals, and the park will not be open to the public until that is complete. Officials have not calculated the costs of that phase, but hope to open the park by spring 2007.

Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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