Open Standard Media Player version 1.3
ELY-Dr. Lynn Rogers and a sloth of supporters break ground on a $1 million expansion to the North American Bear Center on Sunday.
The tens of thousands of fans the bear center earned on Facebook has made a big impact in fundraising, Rogers said.
"Oh, it's an original dream thanks to the help from so many people," Rogers said.
The expansion (that is not yet fully funded) is being made possible by an anonymous $400,000 donation and $156,000 raised by the center's fans – many of whom religiously watch the annual den–cams.
"We saw thousands of people joining Facebook each day and it became the number 1 search topic on Google in the world," Rogers said.
"And people started sending in money to pay off the current bear center that we hadn't even asked for. All of a sudden we saw that we were going to be able to educate," Roger said.
Ely Mayor Roger Skraba says he is also in full support, noting that the growth will benefit the area's tourism.
"It would be nice to see two or three jobs and people come up here and see that we're committed to this type of activity in the woods. Like if you want to learn about the bear, come to Ely. We'll teach you," Skraba said.
And apart from tourism, Rogers says the expansion also includes plans to bring Ely to international audiences.
"We're going to have a worldwide broadcast room so classes anywhere in the world can hook up with us over the internet so we can do a lecture for any class," Rogers said.
Those classes could cover new research on mysterious bear hibernation habits or how the animals interact with other in their habitat.
The center has to raise $444,000 more to meet their $1 million goal.
To learn more about the area www. bear.org