A popular fixture recently returned to the Frank Buck Zoo.
After a renovation the zoo’s penny press is back in place near the zoo’s entry.
The machine has always been a favorite stop for families entering and leaving the zoo but time had taken a toll on the machine, Frank Buck Zoological Society treasurer Louise Mahnich said.
“After years of providing fun souvenirs for the kids, the press was just tired and in need of a major overhaul,” she said.
For some time, the zoo rented the press from Global Impressions and split the proceeds 50/50.
Mahnich said she thought the zoo might be better served by buying a penny press machine and keeping the revenue it generates to help fund zoo projects.
A new penny press, however, is pricey, Mahnich said.
“They’re between $6,000 and $7,000,” she said. “Besides, we wanted to keep ours. It’s different from the more modern machines. We think ours is kind of neat.”
The zoological society contacted Global Impressions and made an agreement to purchase the machine.
Board members then had the press renovated inside and out.
“After completing the purchase, the task was then to find someone to do this work,” Mahnich said in a news release. “Albert Fletcher, owner of GFW Hydraulics in Gainesville, was contacted and he agreed to do the necessary repairs.”
Fletcher and his assistant loaded the tree trunk and the internal mechanisms and took them to Fletcher’s shop, Mahnich said.
“Cute Penny the bear went home with me where she received an overall fresh paint job,” she added.
Fletcher recently returned the press to the zoo.
“The story doesn’t end there,” Mahnich said. “Albert not only did an incredible job, especially after finding there was much more work to be done than originally thought, but he advised us that all of his labor, exceeding $2500, would be donated. He has also offered to provide monthly maintenance for us as well at no charge. Albert did a fantastic job. The Frank Buck Zoo is lucky to have someone like him and we cannot thank him enough.”
Fletcher estimated the project took about 30 hours, Mahnich said. In addition to the repairs and rebuilding of internal structures in the tree section by GWF, Gainesville Glass provided new Plexiglas for the front of the machine, Mahnich noted.
“It looks almost like new,” she said.”
The improved press also allowed the zoo to add new animals to the drums which press the pennies.
“It’s been really nice for us because this gave us an opportunity to add the new animals to the drum,”Mahnich said. “The new additions are the alligator, the cheetahs and the penguins which we have coming on board soon.”