Man hopes to crowdfund southern Utah zoo, populate it with rescued animals

Posted at 4:43 PM, Sep 05, 2014

ST. GEORGE, Utah - How would you like to see a zoo built in southern Utah? That’s the vision of one Washington County man. He’s taken to the internet to raise the funds to make it happen.

Jade Moellendorf said he’s always had a love of animals, so the idea of opening a zoo is a lifelong goal. He wants to give the community a place to see and learn about the animals from around the world. When open, it will be called the Javlan Animal Park.

“We’re not trying to be a full on zoo down here,” Moellendorf said. “It’s more of a community effort to just bring somewhere the community can come and be educated and have fun at the same time.”

That community involvement is the reason Moellendorf picked the slogan “We built a zoo.“

He’s started crowdfunding for the money to open the park, starting first with his own local site, but potentially expanding to global ones like Moellendorf said they’ll start small with desert and a few exotic animals. The main focus will be on animal rescue and rehabilitation.

“There are a lot of organizations out there with rescue animals that are kind of overflowing,” Moellendorf said. “And we are going to do everything we can to make sure at least 80 percent of our animals come from rescues.”

Moellendorf said they’re already considering some properties for the animal park, including one by the St. George Airport. Some people have expressed some concern over whether St. George has the right temperature for an animal park, but Moellendorf said with the right facilities, it’s actually the perfect place.

“We can be open up year round,” Moellendorf said. “And we don’t have to deal with the real cold, cold temperatures that a lot of zoos throughout the world do.”

Local residents who spoke with FOX 13 News are thrilled by the prospect, saying it’s something they would visit frequently.

“Anything that is family friendly would be awesome to have here,” said St. George mom Mary Nelson.

“We would love to have a place to take our kids or and our grandkids,” said Washington City resident Linda Spencer.

The project is scheduled to open in 2015, but Moellendof said that all depends on the funds he receives. For more information on the Javlan Animal Park or to contribute to the vision, head over to their website.