TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Reid Park Zoo is getting ready for a makeover.
Phase one of a three part, 10-year, $80 million expansion plan is set to begin this year.
Zoo officials updated the public on the plans at a presentation on Wednesday afternoon, May 1. The upcoming improvements mean big changes for both the visitors and the animals.
While Reid Pak Zoo is full of beautiful views and even more amazing creatures, the front entrance is sort of, well ... plain.
"It's a good, solid functional front place, but it's not beautiful and doesn't say 'zoo'," said Nancy Kluge, director of the Reid Park Zoo.
Kluge and her staff are excited for the beginning of phase one in the 10 year project.
"We're going to be adding some shade for our guests, some trees," Kluge said of some of the additions that were highlighted during Wednesday's master plan update.
One of the bigger habitat changes to happen at the zoo will involve the flamingos, who will move into a much larger habitat, right at the front of the zoo, at the entrance.
Another big change will be the endangered Malaysian tigers habitat, which will more than triple in size; there will be a playround with a new interactive area for the kids, while several of the zoo's inhabitants will move to larger and more interactive enclosures.
"Having these larger spaces allows us to be able to connect our animals to the people," said Jed Dodds, animal expert and Outreach Supervisor. "Which in turn is going to help wildlife in wild places."
Further expansion plans call for a new reptile exhibit that will feature Komodo dragos, as well as a permanent Red Panda habitat - a crowd favorite when the zoo hosted several Red Pandas in 2017.
"We're looking to provide the best in animal care, as we connect people with animals," said Kluge.
The new Welcome Plaza and playground will be completed by 2021, but the new flamingo enclosure, with its colorful residents is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.
“This expansion is going to be quite good for not only the zoo, the animals, but also for Tucson,” said George Ball from the Reid Park Zoological Society.