Friday, June 22, 2001

Pet project
in Panaewa

The new petting zoo in Panaewa, outside Hilo, is a result of public-private partnership. Pam Mizuno, former manager of the Panaewa Recreation Complex, which includes the zoo, said previously animals had to be moved from living quarters to a small area covered only by a 20-by-20-foot canopy. Being the only zoo in the nation in a rain forest, the area under the canopy would get very crowded when it rained, Mizuno said. She also said the constant relocation stressed the animals.

Kiwanis President Edward Torrison said the club decided to perform its community service project for the zoo, and Mizuno showed him professionally drawn plans for a new petting zoo facility.

Torrison said, "What they had before them at that time was an architecturally designed work of art which would cost a quarter of a million dollars. It was nice, but way beyond their budget," he said. The new zoo was built for between $20,000 and $25,000.

Torrison, manager of Kurtistown Nursery, proposed an alternate plan for an open-frame greenhouse-type structure which was then purchased from Greenhouse Specialists in Keaau.

Volunteer labor would come from the Kiwanis club and its 500 sponsored youth members in Key Clubs and Kiwinis Clubs at Hilo and Waiakea High Schools. Labor also was donated by Greenhouse Specialists owner and President Don Seaton and Tom Burns of The Total Erection. His provocatively named company specializes in building structures. Ben Alanzo from Keaau Service Station Inc. donated boom truck services to lift roof trusses into place.

Torrison said it took three or four weekends to prepare the site, build the greenhouse and install plants and shrubs donated by various nurseries.

"It's good that people know that people do things like that," Seaton said. He recalled the circa-1950s volunteer effort which built a still-used swimming pool for the Honokaa community.

Mizuno, now deputy director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation, said others have taken notice. The Kaiwiki-Wainaku Community Association, with donated equipment and services, is renovating the Kaiwiki Park pavilion and the area around Wainaku Gym. "I'm hoping this will be a model for other community associations," she said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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