In March, this area of the San Antonio Zoo will be transformed into Zootenial Plaza. It's an $8 million dollar gathering place that will include an upscale restaurant and a custom designed carousel.

San Antonio Zoo Development Manager said, “we have unique animals that no one else has everything from a hooping crane, to a horned lizard, to a jackalope, so we're very excited."

San Antonio Zoo officials are excited to celebrate with its visitors its first 100 years.  The carousel will feature 62 animals. Most have already been named by families in the community, but others are still available.

"All but six of them have been funded so there's still opportunities for fundraising, we're not city owned and operated, so this is a fundraising effort that we're doing here," said Koehler.

And the executive chef of the Zootenial Restaurant Douglas Walen can't wait to start cooking in the kitchen, and start serving up American Bistro cuisine. The restaurant, which will be 10,000 square feet and seat 300 people, will feature a kids menu that will be fun for the whole family to enjoy.

"It's a little bit more creative then what they're use to maybe, but parents can get into it, if the parents like then the kids like it our job's done," said Walen.

While the official open date for Zootenial Plaza is March 7, they're already gearing up for the next year, where the new exhibit will feature giraffes.

“Next year, March 2015 for spring break we're going to open up a new giraffe feeding station and a new giraffe exhibit,” said Koehler.

With so many exciting new things in the works, zoo officials  hope the zoo will be the city's most favored site for casual and catered gatherings. If you’re interested in naming one of the animals on the carousel, just follow this link to the San Antonio Zoo’s website:

For a list of recent stories Mariza Mendoza has done, click here.