TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Larger exhibits, new animals and a tree-top playhouse. Once just a plan for the Reid Park Zoo, is now becoming a reality.
In July, the zoo started receiving funds from Propositions 202 and 203, the sales tax increase approved by voters last November.
"This zoo was built by the Tucson community, so we look at every part of this zoo from the elephant exhibit to the health care center, it is something that our community contributed to," said Nancy Kluge, President and CEO of the Reid Park Zoological Society.
The 2018 master plan aims to take you from Tucson, to across the world. From small improvements to continent-six changes, the plan outlines how Reid Park Zoo will change over the next decade.
"At the heart of this, is bigger spaces for our animals and the smiling faces both of the animals and of our visitors that will enjoy all of these improvements," said Kluge.
The plan is divided into three phases, each focusing on a different continent: Asia, Africa and South America.
The first phase is an Asian-themed expansion, where there will be more room for the tigers to roam, as well as up-close experiences with lorikeets, otters and siamangs. The plaza will also see some major improvements, with more shade and a tree-top playground for children of all ages to enjoy, alongside the animals.
"We knew that we wanted larger habitats for our tigers, at the same time we are looking for great experiences for our visitors," Kluge said.
Phase one is expected to be completed in 2022.
Phase two travels to Africa, with larger environments for the elephants, called "Expedition Tanzania," new hippo habitat and a lodge, with a capacity of 400 people, which could be used for private events or conventions. Plans also include an expanded African savanna with rhino, giraffe, and hoofstock, as well a as the lion exhibits.
The final phase will focus on existing South American habitat, including the Temple of Tiny Monkeys, which is set for construction by the end of this year or early 2019.
Kluge said the next ten years will make the zoo not only one of the best for visitors in the nation, but will continue to lead the country in animal care and conservation.
"We know that when people get to see these animals in person, they fall in love with them and they want to protect them in the wild," said Kluge.
Candis Martin, Manager of Marketing and Communications, said the Zoo will not need to close at any time during the construction and improvements.
There are two public meetings scheduled for the community to take a look at the plan and ask any questions or share concerns. The presentations will be held on Wednesday, September 12 at 5 p.m. and Wednesday, October 3 at 5 p.m.
If you would like to attend, you must RSVP for the location of the meeting. Zoo admission is complimentary for attendees. Contact Melissa Mendibles at 520-881-4753 or firstname.lastname@example.org.