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MONROE — Horn T Zoo’s snowbirds will no longer need to head south for the winter.

Owner Todd Laudenklos currently sends warm-weather animals such as monkeys, turtles and alligators to Southern locations including Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Florida during the colder Nebraska months, but they will soon get to make Monroe their permanent home.

Laudenklos is adding a 60-by-80-foot building that can maintain the warm climate certain zoo animals need to remain healthy year-round. The upgrade will also save him the money currently spent to transport, board and check on those species.

The family-run zoo was built in 2009 and houses more than 40 different species of animals. It's been open from June through October in the past, but Laudenklos said the new addition will allow the zoo to operate during winter months, including the Christmas holiday.

“It’ll be nice to give families an opportunity to come out around Christmastime and see the animals,” he said.

It was also announced Monday that Horn T Zoo is part of this year's Nebraska Passport Program sponsored by the Nebraska Tourism Commission.

The program, in its eighth year, selected 80 attractions from across the state for 10 themed tours, with the zoo included on the "Be a Kid Again" tour.

The Nebraska Passport Program, which runs from May 1 through Sept. 30, encourages people to explore the state while collecting stamps used to earn prizes.

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