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BREC taking public input for new zoo redesign

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BATON ROUGE - Colorful gumballs plopped into cups represent each person's vote for a particular feature they'd like to see in the new BREC zoo and park—features like a nature center, camping, lakes and tons more.

"Connectivity," design consultant Anna Cawrse said. "I'm already hearing it's a big issue and a lot of people want a lot of trails, bike trails."

Which is also something architect Ace Torre recognized immediately.

"It's chaotic. It's hard to find the primary and secondary paths people get lost in certain spots. They're constantly having to ask where are the giraffes and so forth," Torre said.

Torre's firm has been hired to completely re-imagine the zoo.

"We've designed 48 zoos around the United States, China, and Canada"

Their resume' includes one design you've probably already seen.

"With Mike the Tiger, we took the LSU campus with its arches and used that as the foundational setting; just to use those elements to make it unique to the setting it represents, so we'll be looking for the same kind of indicators for the zoo to make it special," he said.

Baton Rouge resident Alfreda Tillman-Bester says she used to take her son to the zoo all the time.

"In its current state, it needs a lot of work. First and foremost, it needs maintenance, it needs updating," Tillman-Bester said.

While there's still plenty of work to be done, she says she's thrilled that BREC is including the community in its redesign process.

"I think that it is important to have a diverse view of what the zoo could be, to make sure that it is inclusive of the whole community and that it addresses some of the desires of the entire community."

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