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1875 Noble Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06610
United States
Dedicated to:

Peter, Sue and Christine Hanson

Contact Information:

Lee and Eunice Hanson wanted to do a project with the Beardsley Zoo to commemorate the lives of their son Peter, his wife Sue and daughter, Christine. They had already placed a memorial bench within the zoo's sensory garden, but they were inspired to do more work. While they proposed the idea of a playground, Zoo Director Gregg Dancho encouraged them to help with an Exploration Station that would serve as an educational and programming hub for the zoo. In addition, the facility will feature a backyard butterfly and insect habitat, which the Hansons were in great support of as Christine loved butterflies. Dancho adds that the purpose of both the zoo as a whole and this project are "to bring people in a closer relationship with their environment and conservation issues through formal programs. Hopefully what will happen is that you can go to the station and get a more in-depth picture, and then come out here to the zoo and get a look at it." <BR><BR> <b>Reason site was selected:</b> The Hansons celebrate that their memorial is able to give something back to the city of Bridgeport, which is in need of more educational and youth programming. They had a positive relationship with the zoo director and the placing of the memorial bench in such a beautiful site that they were excited to help make a dream for the zoo a reality. The physical site of the Exploration Station is on the roadway near the entrance to the zoo, so that it will have adequate space for both the new building and habitat in this heavily trafficked urban zoo. <BR><BR> <b>Events planned for site:</b> Youth, senior, and general public educational programs will be held at the exploration station and backyard habitat. It will be a large facility that can accomodate groups in hands-on learning about the natural world. The backyard habitat will serve as both a place to attract butterflies and other insects, as well as a means to inspire people to create their own habitats at home. Through this education and inspiration, the project will not just be a physical site, but a living program that continues to teach and affect change. Moreover, the zoo as a whole, along with all the zoos across the country, experienced an increase in attendance after September 11. Dancho noted, "when you think of a zoo, you think of traditional family, safe, experiences. After 9-11 we saw a definite spike in attendance. We saw that people wanted to be together and wanted to have that experience that they used to have as children. We weren't happy about it because of the circumstances, but we definitely saw that the awareness level went way up." <BR><BR> <b>Do you believe your memorial is a sacred place?:</b> Zoo Director Gregg Dancho said, "if you look at a zoo as a sacred space, you are really looking at our ideals. What should people be doing? What should people be striving for? I can argue for zoos just as easily as I can argue against them, but what we're trying to do is preserve wildlife for future generations. We want to impact people's lives so that they in turn will go out and impact future generations. Is there a sacred space in the zoo? Well, it may sound trite, but we feel that our environment, our world is a sacred space. If we don't protect it we are in trouble....Years ago, zoos used to say that we were the Noah's ark for the animals, that the world was having all these troubles and we needed to bring them into our ark. And then we started thinking about that and saying, 'no, we're not arks, the ark is the world.' All the zoos in the United States, all their physical landmass can fit in the borough of Brooklyn. So how could we possibly say 'oh, we're the lifeboats for the world's wildlife.'? We're not."