- Associated Press - Thursday, July 3, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Officials say a major expansion is coming to the Nashville Zoo that includes more animals, more exhibits and more workers.

Zoo spokesman Jim Bartoo told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1o4n35D) that more details of the expansion will be released next week.

“We’ve got exciting things planned,” he said.

He said the expansion plans are in addition to a campaign launched in 2012 to raise $130 million for a 30-acre African exhibit.

Metro officials decided last month to allot the zoo $10 million, but the money can’t be spent unless the zoo is able to raise dollar-for-dollar matching private investments.

Bartoo says zoo officials hope to spur donations with the expansion announcement.

“I think the zoo expansion will certainly increase tourism to Nashville and help small businesses in the area,” said state Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, whose district includes the zoo. “I think it will be a welcome addition and expansion to South Nashville and Nolensville Road in particular.”

The zoo, which expects to attract 800,000 visitors this year, sits on about 85 acres.

Over the last decade it has had incremental expansions, adding giraffes, a flamingo lagoon and a kangaroo exhibit.

“We are going to do this strategically so that we can use everybody’s dollars in the best way to create a great zoo for Nashville,” Bartoo said.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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