Baton Rouge Zoo is likely to relocate following a heated debate at Thursday’s BREC board meeting.
But, opponents say the zoo doesn’t need a move, just a makeover.
BREC is the body responsible for overseeing parks and recreation in the parish. Board member, David Rhorer, echoed the sentiments of many of those present, saying he wanted to see the zoo revitalized at Greenwood Park.
However, despite strong opposition, commissioners gave the green light to BREC Superintendent, Carolyn McKnight, to look for “the best potential alternative location” for the Louisiana zoo.
Baton Rouge Zoo has been at its current location since it opened in 1970. Creating the new zoo will cost in the region of $110 million.
The proposal also includes a $40 million upgrade of Greenwood Park to include a range of new amenities.
Supporters insisted that a more accessible location would attract more visitors and benefit taxpayers and tourists. They also suggested that a new, improved Greenwood Park would be more appealing to the public than keeping the zoo at its current site.
In contrast, vocal campaigners opposed to the move said the zoo should stay put and undergo major refurbishment. They are critical of BREC’s decision to pull its premier attraction out of north Baton Rouge at a time when many are recognising the need to invest in the neglected part of town.
Their view is that the zoo’s declining attendance figures shouldn’t be blamed on the location but on the out-dated nature of the facility. A newly revamped zoo, they say, would attract more visitors in north Baton Rouge.
McKnight disagreed, describing the current site as unsustainable and saying an expensive revamp would be irresponsible.