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New deer haven

A crew from Dane County Fence and Deck installs fencing April 10 for a new deer pen at the Ochsner Park Zoo in Baraboo. Funded by a $40,000 donation, the Matilda Lavik Sauey Deer Exhibit will be dedicated in August.

Deer at the Ochsner Park Zoo are about to get a new home they’ll share with new friends.

The Baraboo zoo’s deer will move from their current home to a new pen near the intersection of Eighth Avenue and Park Street. A $40,000 gift from the Sauey Family Foundation is funding new fences and a large elevated deck overlooking the entire exhibit. The Matilda Lavik Sauey Deer Exhibit will be dedicated in August.

“The exhibit is also designed to include other animals, such as sandhill cranes, turkey or other native species in the future to live with the deer,” Parks Director Mike Hardy said.

This will be a busy summer at the zoo. In addition to construction of the new deer pen, the zoo will open its long-awaited river otter exhibit. Plus, the Friends of the Baraboo Zoo booster group is planning new events such as breakfasts, after-hours events and live music performances.

“The FOBZ is incredibly excited for the upcoming summer at Ochsner zoo,” said group president Amber Giddings.

Construction of the new deer exhibit is expected to conclude in July. Hardy designed it and worked with the Sauey Family Foundation for nearly three years to get the project off the ground. Looking to provide more space for the deer and improve the exhibit’s appearance, the Parks Commission approved Hardy’s design and accepted the Sauey Family Foundation’s donation in November.

Last week, Dane County Fence and Deck built perimeter fences. Hardy now is working with another contractor to build a large elevated deck.

“I designed the exhibit to include longer grasses and a more natural look than the current deer yard,” Hardy said. “We will be doing some minor work on that, as well as building a small shelter, in-house with Parks staff.”

The zoo is looking for additional donations to help pay for some interior work, including buying grass seed and building the shelter.

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley