Reimagine Greenwood

A New Zoo | A Better Baton Rouge

The transformation of the Baton Rouge Zoo will combine best practices in animal management, naturalistic environments, visitor engagement, and public education for throughout the region.

Our Vision: A State-Of-The-Art Zoo

A new definition for zoo-based economic impact for East Baton Rouge Parish, including $230 million in one-time, parish-wide economic benefits and an annual economic impact of more than $34 million for East Baton Rouge Parish.

A compelling and memorable wildlife experience, an entertainment and educational destination, a transformative visitor experience and a zoological adventure for all of Baton Rouge residents to enjoy.

Why Should the Zoo Move?

It is significantly more expensive and time-intensive to re-design and re-build infrastructure of this magnitude in a current location as opposed to an alternate one. In addition to a costlier and lengthier process, re-building aging infrastructure in its current location would mean zoo guests would have limited access to exhibits and many amenities for years at a time and across a more than 15-year timespan. For the same investment, a state-of-the-art zoo experience can be developed in a new location in a fraction of the time, resulting in an additional 125,000 projected annual visitors.

The ability to initiate any improvements that would be required at the current Zoo site or a future, more sustainable site is wholly contingent on private and public funding. To-date, discussions with potential donors indicate severe limitations exist at the current site relative to meeting the necessary fundraising targets based on how philanthropists are looking to direct dollars toward maximum community and economic impact for all of Baton Rouge.

Cities similar to Baton Rouge have experienced great success in relocating their zoos to a more central area based on where attendance and interest is greatest. It is a blueprint that has been utilized on multiple occasions and would position Baton Rouge’s zoo for even greater success.

Jackson, Mississippi, serves as a cautionary example of what happens when data suggests a zoo should move but it does not and the community instead re-invests at the current location. In this example, annual attendance at the Jackson Zoo dropped from 329,000 to 114,000 over the course of the past 25 years while operating costs continue to rise.

No zoo in any community is a singular catalyst to drive economic development. In order to achieve full economic potential and long-term sustainability for the entire community, as a regional asset, a zoo must be located in a highly-visible area where secondary and tertiary impacts can be fully realized.

A sustainable and viable future for the Baton Rouge Zoo is dependent on the Zoo’s ability to generate earned revenue and to maintain strong public and private funding streams on an annual, ongoing basis. The differences in attendance projections – more than 500,000 annual visitors in a new site versus an optimistic 375,000 in the current site (only after 15 years of construction) – presents a compelling reason as to how a “new Baton Rouge Zoo” would be able to sustain itself over time with the necessary infrastructure, proximity to growing population centers and built-in visitor bases, strategic partnership opportunities, nearby tourist routes, and more.

Key Factors
Current LocationCurrent Location at CompletionMost Sustainable Location at Completion
Construction Cost$110,000,000$110,000,000
Timeline for Completion of Construction15 years5 years
Annual Attendance250,000375,000500,000+
Annual Operating Budget$5,500,000$7,500,000$12,5000,000+
Annual BREC Tax Subsidy50%50%25%
Zoo Jobs Supported Annually96243360
Annual Economic Impact for EBRP$17,670,000$23,900,000$34,100,000

Zoo Spirit Images

What could the Baton Rouge Zoo look like if it were rebuilt in a more sustainable location? These images will give you an idea of what we are thinking as we imagine big for East Baton Rouge Parish!

Related Links and Documents

Greenwood Regional Concept

New Vision, New Experiences: a conceptual facility & site planning report for a new Baton Rouge zoo

New Vision, New Experiences: a conceptual facility & site planning report for a new Baton Rouge zoo - Executive Summary

Feasibility Study - May 2015

Presentation to the BREC Commission - March 2016

Greenwood/Zoo Q & A

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