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Sep 20, 2013 8:47 AM by Elizabeth Hill

A look back at the zoo's past and forward into the future

At 14-years-old, Matt Oldenburg and his family got a big surprise from dad.

"I quit my job and I'm buying a zoo. That's truly how he told us."

The Zoo of Acadiana has been open for 21 years, the Oldenburg's have owned and operated it since 2002.

"The zoo at that time needed some tender loving care."

The Oldenburg's jumped right in making a number of major improvements and additions. The playground and some monkey habitats, for instance, used to be a parking lot.

"You can walk around and really feel a personal touch around here. You can tell that there's someone behind it that really cares about the animals."

The Oldenburg's have made an effort to engage the community. From having a naming competition for a pair of new tiger cubs, to an invitation to a giraffe wedding.

"We really want people to be part of the zoo. We want them to walk around and really feel like they helped put this thing here and they helped build it and it's all here because of them."

As for any hints of what the new name of the zoo might be...

"It's a really loveable name that we think people are going to really appreciate it."

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