NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 9 -- The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development issued the following news release:
Nashville Zoo announced plans to begin a major new development that will add more state-of-the-art animal exhibits and allow better access for visitors. The announcement comes on the heels of the city's approval of capital funding to help support the zoo's growth.
Construction crews will soon begin working on several projects in the initial phase of a long-term plan to grow the zoo. These projects include:
* A new entry plaza that will meet the demands of growing membership and general attendance
* New exhibits featuring Andean bears and spider monkeys
* A much needed, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital
* Vital infrastructure improvements including expanded parking, roads and walkways
To date, the zoo has received commitments totaling $28 million to begin a multi-million dollar, multi-year campaign to fund the expansion. The funds raised include a recently approved $10 million allotment in Nashville's 2015 capital spending plan, as well as $5 million in the 2014 capital spending plan. The city's $10 million investment will be applied to infrastructure improvements and is contingent upon the zoo's ability to match the funds with privately raised funds. The zoo sits on 188 acres which is owned by Metro Parks and Recreation. Currently about 82 acres have been developed.
"The zoo appreciates this public-private partnership with Metro and the support of Mayor Dean's administration and the Metro Council, who have embraced our mission and demonstrated a serious commitment," said Rick Schwartz, president of Nashville Zoo. "It is clear that Nashville's leaders recognize the zoo's contribution to our community: As a key entity promoting progress and preservation, and as a vital educational resource and cultural destination with a significant economic impact."
Moving forward, the zoo will focus on securing vital support from the private sector to meet the city's challenge. This comprehensive campaign is scheduled to run through 2020 and is strategically developed to include community-centered outreach allowing anyone interested in be involved. The long-term goal of the campaign is to raise money to build highly anticipated exhibits for gorillas, lions, penguins and more, as well as a guest tram system, restaurants, gift shops and other amenities.
"The Nashville Zoo is the most-visited attraction in our city with a growing membership and bright plans for the future," Mayor Karl Dean said. "As centers of discovery, zoos are where our youth can learn about the natural world, the wonderment of animals and respect for living creatures. Continued investment by our community in infrastructure and animal exhibits will make our zoo the kind of world-class destination our residents deserve and tourists will visit."
These tangible improvements will be anchored by further efforts demonstrating the zoo's commitment to the conservation of endangered species around the world - a commitment that sets Nashville Zoo apart and continues to bolster its reputation across America and the world.
"I am thrilled that the mayor and the city have included the Nashville Zoo in its capital spending plans," said Robin Patton, Nashville Zoo board chair. "Our infrastructure needs massive improvements, and, with the city's investment, we can move forward with our plans for expansion and remain Nashville's No. 1 tourist attraction. We are incredibly grateful to all of Nashville for the community-wide support enabling us to eliminate debt and operate in a financially sound manner. Without the commitment of our citizens as well as the mayor and Metro Council, the Nashville Zoo would not be able to flourish as it has over the last 15 years."
Nashville Zoo is accredited by the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. Attracting more than 776,000 visitors annually, the zoo is considered one of the top attractions in Nashville. The zoo is a non-profit organization located at 3777 Nolensville Pike and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The mission of Nashville Zoo is to inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership.
For more information about Nashville Zoo, call 615-833-1534 or visit www.nashvillezoo.org.