‘Let’s build a zoo’; how you can help fund a local animal park

ST. GEORGE – Imagine spending the day at the zoo. Imagine your kids becoming junior zookeepers, petting animals and learning about conservation. Imagine a zoo built by and for the community and imagine that zoo being only minutes away from your house. That is the dream of local entrepreneur Jade Moellendorf and his family as they set their sights on creating the Javlan Animal Park right here in St. George.

It is a big goal to be sure and one that Moellendorf hopes to accomplish with the help of the local community by crowdfunding or community funding the costs and in return creating a zoo that aims to be a leading player in animal conservation that is debt-free, self-reliant, eco-friendly and communitycentric, he said.

Community funding

An example of the type of animal you will see at the Javlan Animal Park, locationa and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Javlan Animal Park, St. George News
An example of the type of animal you will see at the Javlan Animal Park, locationa and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Javlan Animal Park, St. George News

Recent trends in crowdfunding – the practice of funding a personal venture, project or charity, generally through social media – show an upsurge in sites such as Kickstarter, gofundme and Indiegogo facilitating the success (or failure) of peoples’ greatest inventions, next big adventures and hairbrained schemes. Moellendorf hopes to ride that wave of success by creating his own community funding platform designed solely to establish an animal park in Southern Utah, he said.

The way it works is, patrons wishing to participate can choose to purchase a “perk” on the animal park website ranging anywhere from $5-$10,000. Perks can include a “thank you” on the website, park passes, shirts, naming or choosing an animal at the park, or having your name or business name on an animal enclosure. The website accepts payments by Paypal or credit card and all the funds go directly into a business account to help with park costs, Moellendorf said.

Moellendorf wants the whole community to be involved even if that means only spending $1 and he encourages anyone who wishes to help that can’t find a perk on the website within their budget to call him and see what they can work out, he said.

“We also do custom packages for people who want to customize it a bit more or businesses who want to do a little bit more marketing,” Moellendorf said, “we are totally willing to do that because it is all about raising the funds.”

Moellendorf has been working with animals for the last 25 years, he said, and bringing a zoo to the area has been a longtime goal for himself and his family and he is excited about the idea of bringing this to the community and asking them to help create and fund it.

“The thing that is really cool about the community zoo,” Moellendorf said, “is that the community is really involved, they decide how big we go and what kind of animals we bring to the park.”

Moellendorf plans to begin with a small community zoo and a desert theme focusing on desert animals from around the world and then expand as the project is supported, he said.

Self-reliance

An example of the type of animal you will see at the Javlan Animal Park, locationa and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Javlan Animal Park, St. George News
An example of the type of animal you will see at the Javlan Animal Park, locationa and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Javlan Animal Park, St. George News

Being a community funded zoo, Moellendorf recognizes the need and has the desire to keep the animal park as self-reliant as possible and never wants to expand beyond what the community can support financially (in the beginning stages) and as patrons.

Moellendorf plans to incorporate an innovative food growing system called a Fodder Solutions system or something similar that uses hydroponic seed-to-feed growing techniques which will enable the zoo to produce much of its animal feed on site and year round, he said.

He also plans to plant a zoo garden/orchard so that they can consistently grow their own food that the animals digestive systems are used to in order to keep them healthy, fed, hydrated and going strong, he said.

“We are going to try to be as self-reliant as we can so that we don’t have to keep relying on more and more funds to support it,” Moellendorf said, “as long as the community keeps coming to the zoo we should be able to support the animals.”

The mission of the zoo

According to the animal park’s website their mission is to “strengthen family bonds and to promote conservation of the natural world,” and they have a bulleted plan for accomplishing this goal by:

  • Being industry leaders in the health and welfare of animals and educating the public and keeping the American agricultural experience alive
  • Sharing love and respect for animals and inspiring appreciation and kindness while teaching the proper care of all of God’s creatures
  • Providing hands-on and close up experiences with animals and promoting harmony between nature and development through example
  • Providing the highest quality, professional and beautiful animal attractions to the industry with emphasis on safety and dignity for both guests and animals
  • Promoting public awareness of conservation issues and educating the public on how easy it can be to help with the knowledge and understanding of animals
  • Creating new and innovative exhibits with plenty of recreational opportunities
  • Creating an environment in which employees can use and expand their knowledge of the animal kingdom and share this knowledge with the public in a fun, family friendly atmosphere

One of the biggest goals for Moellendorf is to create a zoo that provides a really hands-on experience for families, he said, by incorporating educational classes, a junior zookeeper program and a petting zoo area, he said.

An example of the type of animal you will see at the Javlan Animal Park, locationa and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Javlan Animal Park, St. George News
An example of the type of animal you will see at the Javlan Animal Park, locationa and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Javlan Animal Park, St. George News

“We want to instill that love for animals in a lot of kids,” Moellendorf said, “because who knows how many future generations of veterinarians or zoologists we have who are coming through and will get that animal bug that sticks with them for the rest of their lives.”

Moellendorf hopes by educating children and adults alike about different animal species they in turn will want to conserve and protect these beings, he said.

“If we don’t protect them, then who will,” Moellendorf said.

A zoo for the family, the community and the future

Moellendorf has big dreams for the future of the animal park including camel treks, a live carousel, conservation and breeding programs and maybe even a splash pad for the kids, but his ultimate goal is to create a place where the community can come and spend the day learning about and falling in love with the animals, he said.

Moellendorf also plans to be USDA registered as well as have all licensing and registrations in place before opening doors, he said.

Javlan Animal Park is currently in the funding phase but hopes to open its doors in 2015.

Resources

  • To learn more about Javlan Animal Park or to purchase a perk visit their website

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14 Comments

  • SAGEMOON September 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Good idea! I was pleased to read the focus will be on desert animals. I would hate to see a polar bear suffering in the desert heat.

  • Anon. September 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

    As much as I think a zoo would be cool in St. George, there is already a really cool place in town that houses over 300 animals from all over the world. It is called the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum. They too teach wildlife conservation and have several activities for kids and families. The sad thing is, the museum is a very under utilized gem in town. A zoo would be popular at first, just like the museum was, and then attendance will die down. We need to support the resources that are already in running in town.

  • Dana September 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Where will it be located?

  • Talmud September 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Noooooooo we do not need one

  • Matthew Sevald September 5, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I believe this is a “feel good” but irresponsible idea as proposed and will most likely end up being shoddy like the “zoo” in Las Vegas or that travelling dinosaur exhibit that came to the Convention Center a few months back. Neat for a one-time thing, but overall a waste of money.
    .
    However, this idea is not without complete merit. Since we live in ranching and farming communities, why not operate this “zoo” as more of a work-study program for farm and ranch animals which can teach youth and interested adults in proper care and harvesting techniques so they can have education to work towards becoming farmers, ranchers, or veterinarians within the local community or elsewhere if they move?
    .
    Students from all the schools could take field trips, teens and adults could get paying jobs, a great number of people could be educated on where their food and some clothing comes from, and if this is done right, a college course could be developed in conjunction with the university for animal husbandry, land management, etc.
    .
    The entire operation could be self-sufficient by raising funds through ticket sales, tuition, and sales of animals and animal products.

  • Andy September 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Be sure to check out the animal list on their website (link in the article). Ferrets, cats and great danes included!

  • crazydoglady September 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I agree with ANON, we should use community funds in a better way! I don’t think this climate is conducive to most animals and I think people will quickly lose interest with only having desert animals. I wouldn’t attend because wild animal held in captivity in small enclosure makes me angry and sad. I don’t think we should show our children that its okay to treat animals in this way for our own selfishness, which some would call entertainment!

    • Dieright November 1, 2014 at 11:48 am

      your one of the people commenting here that actually thinks about the animals welfare. thank you for standing up for them.

  • Tyler September 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Could we crowdfund a waterpark? I’d be the first to throw down $$$

  • Dana September 6, 2014 at 5:22 am

    My query is because they know how to ask for and set up different venues to collect ca$h, but there are no specifics as to location, buildings,size of the operation,etc. Furthermore, if you plan on feeding those animals year round, you should have planted at the minimum of two years ago. The people involved should be giving more info. If the planned opening is 2015, one would think they would be further along than the a$king for ca$h phase. Just saying.

  • Andy September 6, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Who is this guy? What kind of “working with animals” has he done for the last 25 years? I’ve cared for my pets that long also. Where does he plan to build this “zoo”? The animal list seems more like a carnival petting zoo. The article seems to be a direct “book report” from the website and tells us little more than Moellendorf wants us to know so we will donate money. Was he even interviewed? How about a little investigative reporting.

  • Dale September 6, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    What are Moellendorfs credentials? Does he have a degree in Zoology?
    .
    Does he already have the necessary USDA permits?
    .
    Crowdfunded – I don’t have money. I can’t get money. Donate your hard earned money so I can make money.

    Maybe his last pyramid scheme failed.

  • Vikki September 17, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I think the whole community funding IDEA!
    Is a great one, I just want to know more about the specifics and then I will defiantly contribute. I like going to see live animals, not stuffed ones. In a Trophy room!

  • Dieright November 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Don’t support animals being locked up for our entertainment. It’s not right.

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