Big Ideas: $100,000


Located in the heart of the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, The Cherry Brook Zoo is an integral part of the community. At the zoo, citizens connect with the natural environment, facilitating empathy, education, and an appreciation of nature. It is a well-known and loved locale for regular family visits during the summer months. Children of all school ages ranging from play-school to high school from across the city-expanse attend the zoo on a regular basis throughout the academic year.

Stopping in at the Cherry Brook Zoo is an experience like no other. Gazing at the two massive African lions, Aslan and Frieda, is incredible for both children and adults, alike. Taking a moment to gab with the wise, but silly-looking alpacas can make your day. While enjoyable, the zoo offers something much more important than pure entertainment. It provides a space where community, empathy, education, and animal protection can thrive.

With these priorities in mind, The Board of Trustees for The Cherry Brook Zoo has identified the need to build on the opportunities for learning that exist at the zoo, by designing a Children’s Play Park, which draws on the elements of nature. The playground would encourage families to come to the zoo and spend the day learning about and engaging with nature and animals. As a community meeting place, it would offer an opportunity for families to gather and spend time with others while also learning about their surroundings and interacting with the natural environment.

Currently, upon entering the zoo parking lot, visitors see a mini-golf course. What once was an appealing attraction has become weather-worn and rundown. The dream is to re-purpose the area to create a one-of-a-kind natural Children’s Play Park. The Board of Trustees has connected with an organization called Nature’s Instruments, a company that specializes in using ethically-sourced, raw materials to create hand-crafted wooden playground components.

The play park would have far-reaching benefits to the families, children, and students in the Saint John community. It would be accessible to all members of the city as it would be positioned outside the gate of the zoo, waving the need for admission fees. This would make the park accessible to the city's marginalized families, including the large population of newcomers.

Creating a naturally sourced Children’s Play Park ties in with Cherry Brook Zoo’s aim to engage with the community and provide education. Each unique component of the playground doubles as a play structure which offers an opportunity for the development of gross motor skills, sensory processing, and cognitive stimulation. For example, one of the custom components of the park is a piece called: Ball Tracks. The structure is a compact ball track made from cedar, which facilitates learning about cause and effect. The installation of Chalkboard and Mirror Panels would encourage joint and parallel cooperative play. The beauty of these custom pieces is that children would have the chance to express themselves creatively while also engaging with the natural environment in the development of early learning and more advanced skills. Due to the customized nature of the pieces offered by Nature’s Instruments, each component of the Children’s Play Park would be accessible to any child, regardless of physical or cognitive ability.

With a continued emphasis on community, the Board of the Cherry Brook Zoo will hire local contractors to install the Children’s Play Park.

The Board of Trustees of the Cherry Brook Zoo hopes to facilitate the growth of core values such as community, empathy, and education in the Saint John area. The Children’s Play Park would act as a community hub where families, children, students, and citizens can grow and learn together.

We genuinely appreciate the opportunity to qualify for funds necessary to build the Children’s Play Park. Thank you to our community for your ongoing support

Broker supported

Cherry Brook Zoo of Saint John Inc.

Location: Saint John