- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Officials are considering a $110 million upgrade at Baton Rouge Zoo that could include moving it to a different location.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1G2wISI ) that East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission officials say no decisions have been made yet.

“We are open to possibilities,” BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said.

Friends of the Baton Rouge Zoo, a citizens group that supports the zoo, hired a consulting firm to examine ways the facility could be improved. The consultants made several recommendations, including the possible relocation.

While many of the public officials and community, business and philanthropic leaders interviewed by the consultants said they thought it would be a good idea to move the zoo from its relatively remote location near Baker, others said they thought that was unlikely to happen.

If BREC follows the consulting firm’s recommended timeline, a decision on relocating can be made within six to nine months.

Schultz and Williams, the Philadelphia-based consulting firm chosen to do the study, recommended the zoo carefully consider the opportunity to relocate, though a land donation probably would be the main indicator for whether a move would take place.

“Based on our experience, the cost of building a new zoo on undeveloped land compared to renovating the existing zoo will be very similar - minus the cost of land,” the firm says.

More concerns were raised if the public were made to purchase new land.

Currently, 250,000 visitors on average visit the zoo each year, and it contributes about $17.67 million to the local economy, the consultant’s report says. With the proposed changes, the study says the zoo could raise its average annual attendance to 375,000 and contribute $24 million annually to the local economy, while injecting an initial $330 million into the economy during development.

The zoo has received few updates since its opening in 1970, said Kaki Heiligenthal, head of marketing and development.

“Over the years, there have been some changes, like renovating the front gate, building ‘Realm of the Tiger,’ adding the playground …but there are actually a fair number of exhibits that look the same as they did opening day,” Heiligenthal said.

___

Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide