MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County is preparing to break ground on a big development at the Henry Vilas Zoo.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Wednesday construction on the Arctic Passage exhibit is set to begin in spring.
The total project is expected to cost more than $10.5 million. $4.38 million of the design and construction costs will come from Dane County. To date, Friends of the Vilas Zoo has raised $3.6 million and is still aiming to raise at least $1 million more.
The development is expected to provide a new and more expansive habitat for polar bears. The seals will also move to a new home within the Arctic Passage exhibit.
Visitors will be able to get a better, closer look at the bears with an underwater viewing area to see how bears capture fish.
The county will fund the $1.6 million cost to build an indoor restaurant that includes a viewing window overlooking the polar bear exhibit. Proceeds raised by dining sales will be put in a "Forever Free Fund" to allow the zoo to continue updating and expanding exhibits.
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