WINNIPEG – A piece of Manitoba’s agricultural past will soon be on display at Assiniboine Park Zoo.
The McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre is the latest addition to the zoo and is expected to be open by summer 2015.
The new exhibit comes from a $2 million personal donation from Ray McFeetors, former president, CEO and chairman of Great-West Life. Another $250,000 from Great-West Life will go toward the Great-West Life Paddock within the centre.
“People will get an appreciation for how people lived in the first half of the last century and how useful horses were,” said McFeetors.
TIMELINE: Assiniboine Park Zoo
The centre will span over 4.7 acres in the zoo’s north end. A barn, pastures and paddocks along with walking paths, tours and horse interaction are a few of the features that will greet visitors. Wagon rides will be available within the exhibit in the summer and sleigh rides into the park will be implemented in the winter.
“When I was a kid going to school, the vans that took the farm kids home were drawn by horses,” said McFeetors, who grew up in rural Manitoba. “I thought that would be neat to have in the city for kids and their parents to come and see.”
Four Percheron horses, traditionally used on farms and for freight, will live at the centre year-round. In the summer months, a mare and a foal will be added to the exhibit to show other heavy horse breeds in the province.
“We see this as a continuation of where we began with Journey to Churchill,” said Margaret Redmond, president and CEO of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. “As our financial situation enables, we will just keep doing more and more great things to develop the zoo.”
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The combined $2.25 million donation puts the Imagine a Place campaign at over $128 million toward the redevelopment goal of $200 million.