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Consulting firm supporting moving zoo makes pitch to BREC Thursday

10 months 13 hours 32 minutes ago March 22, 2016 Mar 22, 2016 Tuesday, March 22 2016 March 22, 2016 6:28 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Zoo officials will once again hear from a consulting firm Thursday, hired to determine how to improve the experience of the public attraction.

The firm has recommended moving the zoo from Thomas Road and will pitch plans to BREC, the recreation arm of the city-parish that oversees the zoo. The meeting is set for 5 p.m. Thursday.

A study suggests upgrading or moving the zoo at a cost of about $110 million. Researchers said making proposed changes could raise attendance from 250,000 visitors to 375,000 each year and contribute $24 million annually to the local economy. In a zoo advisory meeting earlier in March, zoo officials described 2015 as lackluster because of weather but reported February 2016 was the busiest in the zoo's history.

Zoo officials are quick to argue no matter what comes out of the meeting Thursday, the study only has to be accepted and is not a move to make immediate, drastic changes.

The goal is to "move the community forward and give it the great zoo it deserves," BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said about the discussion. She added, the study is a long process with more phases ahead. Phase 2 will be presented Thursday.

Earlier this year, the NAACP said it will fight any potential move from Thomas Road.

"BREC has cited a lack of financial resources for virtually every request that has been made for improvement of facilities in the African American Community. Imagine our confusion when the lack of resources has not even been raised in a meaningful way in you discussions of the relocation of the BREC Zoo - a project that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars," the NAACP has said.

In a previous WBRZ.com report, BREC argued the study was paid for by its Friends organization and assisted in an expensive task relating to the strategic planning process for the Zoo.

Zoo admission: Adults/Teens: $8.75; Seniors: $7.75; Children ages 2-12: $5.75; Children 1 & under: Free. Guests can enter the zoo from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

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