New, old exhibits set to open at Fresno zoo

Tropical Treasures, a rainforest exhibit that has been in the works for more than a year, opens Saturday at Fresno's Chaffee Zoo, while the popular Stingray Bay will open for its third year.

The rain forest will house frogs, tortoises, birds, a West Indies iguana and two-toed sloth. Some of the inhabitants will be rare frogs and toads brought to Fresno last year after Hurricane Ike damaged the Rainforest Pyramid exhibit at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas.

The 1,200-square-foot building located next to the tropical bird enclosure will be kept at 82 degrees and 50% humidity. It has been closed for seven years, since it was known as Maddis House and home to several venues, including a rainforest.

A vaulted ceiling allows tropical birds to fly above and gives the sloth some climbing space. Skylights allow natural sunlight.

It cost $150,000 to renovate the building with money from Measure Z, the one-tenth-cent sales tax approved by Fresno County voters in 2004.

Stingray Bay, which helped boost zoo attendance last year, will feature 29 rays, six docile sharks and 10 horseshoe crabs this year.

Winged Wonders, the zoo's bird show, also will be open on weekends beginning Saturday.