Roer’s Zoofari, a popular zoo and safari in Reston, is under new ownership and will reopen as Nova Wild in early March.
Nova Wild says it plans to revitalize the local treasure and create a non-profit, community-focused zoo for children of all ages.
“Our intent is to revitalize a beloved Reston Gem,” Joshua Reid, the spokesperson for the company, said. “Nova Wild is proudly under new ownership, and everything is changing.”
A drive-through safari is expected to open in early February before the full zoo opens in early March.
The change in ownership took place on Dec. 30. Vanessa and Jacob Roer were the previous owners. Reid describes the new owner — Tara Campbell Lussier — as a former Reston resident and longtime friend. Lussier is a real estate agent and serial entrepreneur.
Next month, the new owners will launch a light show called “The Great Migration,” which will allow participants to explore 10 animal habitats and learn about wildlife from around the world, along with the trails that run through the property. It’ll feature more than 800,000 LED lights.
The show is slated to take place on Feb. 17 through April 9 from 4:30-8:30 p.m.
Nova Wild plans a three-pronged approach to the zoo: animal welfare, education and conservation. It described itself as an accredited facility on its website.
“We have secured the highest levels of accreditation, above and beyond federal, state, and local requirements. We are proudly accredited by the Zoological Association of America and certified by American Humane,” the website says.
Reid says the company plans to “expand on animals, offerings, ethics, and family-friendly adventure,” but declined to comment further.
“The architectural renderings planned improvements are still under production. A family-friendly atmosphere will always remain,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the zoo has changed hands. Vanessa and Jacob Roer took ownership of the facility in 2016, when it was called Reston Zoo.
The zoo was shaken by tragedy in 2021 when a fire killed two giraffes: Waffles — a giraffe described as the heart of the zoo — and his new companion, Belgian.
The fire originated from a heater that was being used in the area. A petition called for the zoo to be shut down for “inhumane treatment of animals,” though other than the fire, all of the incidents cited occurred under previous owners.
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