Reimagined Zoo & Greenwood

Transforming Greenwood Community Park into the Gateway for Your New Baton Rouge Zoo

Greenwood Community Park is the largest park in the BREC system, comprised of 660-acres. Almost half of this beautiful park includes pristine representative south Louisiana upland and lowland forested habitat that is a critical link in a larger ecological context that connects the Comite and Mississippi Rivers and is a critical part of a migratory bird corridor – the Mississippi Flyway. These natural areas stitch together fragmented habitats which improves the viability of animal and plant species, reducing threats to the biodiversity of the area.

Currently, the park is not seen as one facility but four separate destinations – Greenwood Community Park, the Baton Rouge Zoo, Dumas Memorial Golf Course and J.S. Clark Park. BREC’s vision is to change this perception by creating a park that entices visitors into the heart of the park and reveals grand gateway into a new, modernized Zoo. This ambitious project will be designed and planned to make an extraordinary contribution to the quality of life, health and wellness and be a catalytic agent in the economic transformation of the surrounding area and entire parish.

The Master Plan

Greenwood Park and Baton Rouge Zoo Master plan map with sections labeled Baton Rouge Zoo Master Plan Map

The master plans for the park and zoo are the culmination of over nine months of intense community and stakeholder engagement that included conversations about both the future of the Baton Rouge Zoo and Greenwood Park. The planning process built off earlier work by BREC and community stakeholders, leading to a decision to keep the Zoo in its current location.

The master plan development involved a stringent engagement process including:

Want to learn more more about the master planning process and the overall vision? Ciew the entire Greenwood Community Park & Baton Rouge Zoo Master Plan? The document is available for download at the link below. NOTE BEFORE DOWNLOADING: The full master plan document is a VERY large file (361MB) with 358 total pages.

 Additional Master Plan Resources - Click to Download

Take a Tour

Want to learn even more about the master plan by seeing images from the 5 different sections of the project? Follow the link below to take the tour.

Project Updates - Design & Construction Underway

Phase 1

First Phase of Greenwood Plan to include elements listed in project plan; image has colored map and spirit images First Phase of zoo plan with spirit images

Phase 1 Features

J.S. Clark Golf Course

  • Expanded & renovated 9 holes course, cart paths, two bridges, new pumps and irrigation system. - Completed
  • Maintenance yard addition for golf cart storage - Completed

Greenwood Community Park 

  • New entry drive sequence with roundabout, wayfinding signage - Completed
  • Bayou Restoration – reshaping and reforestation of Cypress Bayou - Completed
  • Bayou Promenade – a pathway along Cypress Bayou that links the new entrance to the Baton Rouge Zoo with The Waterfront. - Completed
  • Waterfront Playground – iconic Louisiana Black Bear mom and cub new playground - Completed
  • Entry Driveway turning lane and asphalt improvements - Underway
  • Greenwood Greenway Trail - Underway
  • Highway 19 at Rafe Mayer Road intersection improvements by DOTD - Underway

Baton Rouge Zoo

  • New Baton Rouge Zoo Entry Building - gift shop, offices, conference and rental space, classroom/activity rooms - Completed
  • New Train Station - Completed
  • New Train Track Route - Completed
  • New parking lot and entry driveway with site lighting - Completed
  • New Entry and Orientation Plazas - Completed
  • New Animal Exhibits & Care Facilities - Completed
  • New Pigmy Hippos and Colobus Monkey Exhibit and Night Houses - Completed
  • Four New Aviaries and night houses – one North America, two South American, one African - Completed
  • New American hoofstock exhibit for Bison and Elk - Completed
  • Site utilities including new water service, natural gas, electrical, and modernizing the infrastructure for managing waste and storm water including the removal of the concrete moats and renovation to the sewer treatment lagoon and sanitary sewer system. - Completed
  • New Giraffe exhibit, new night barn, and a new “eye-level” feeding station where humans can walk up a ramp to look a giraffe in the eye! - Underway

Phase 2

Phase 2 Features:

  • Cypress Bayou LWI project - In Design
  • Lake dredging and reshaping, stormwater sediment pond - In Design
  • Amphitheater - In Design
  • Bayou Promenade signature pavilion - In Design

Project Overview

A team of BREC project managers worked with two nationally renowned and award-winning firms specializing in zoo and municipal park planning and design. These design consultants led the master planning process which included extensive public outreach and stakeholder engagement creating a common public vision for the Park and Zoo.

Public Feedback

Before each team began any design alternatives, they first introduced the public to the master plan process and listened all thoughts, ideas, and concerns about the future Greenwood Park and the Baton Rouge Zoo. The community engagement followed a detailed outreach strategy with a series of meetings throughout the Parish, tables and/or workshops at BREC and other agency public events, online surveys, and social media.

Guiding Principles

As the pulic feedback was compiled and analyzed four guiding principles emerged. Greenwood Guiding Principles:

Supplemental Information

Why Zoos Matter

Great zoos provide cities with educational and entertaining activities for both residents and visitors alike, and a zoo with a beautiful park as its gateway is a gift, in particular, to children who may visit both on school trips and with their families, businesses seeking a unique site for large meetings and retreats, couples planning unforgettable weddings and conventions planning receptions for visitors from across the country.

Zoo’s core mission is conservation – Our Zoo plays an important role in local and global conservation as it is in a unique position to make a difference in the survival of a variety of animal species. The research that takes place at a zoo on animal behavior, reproductive biology, nutrition, health and genetics is also valuable to wildlife managers, field researchers and other scientists.

Entertain, educate & engage – From safari nights to twilight tours to spring and summer zoo camps, children and adults alike can make an emotional connection with animals at zoos and form memories with their loved ones that can last a lifetime. Visitor research shows that when people experience the wonderment of animals up close, they are empowered to learn more and behave differently.

Safe, active family fun – The Baton Rouge Zoo is a place where families can have unique experiences together each time they visit. With increased concern about conservation of the natural world, today's families are more aware than ever of the need to teach their children about nature and instill a respect for other living creatures – particularly those in danger of extinction. Additionally, spending a day at our Zoo means enjoyable walks between exhibits and time spent outdoors, which provides a healthy option for families who wish to get their kids off the sofa and away from the television or computer screen.

Zoos are a quality of life asset – As economic development organizations and corporate leadership look to strengthen and partner with regions, our Zoo is a key component to building a region’s cultural and educational assets. Good zoos are community assets that help residents thrive and attract visitors. Through partnerships, there is a collective ability for a larger mission-driven impact, which will better our community.ntent.

Vision for the Zoo

The leadership of BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo intends to completely reinvent the current zoo through a transformation of the visitor experience, into a zoological journey that offers visitors a fun, unique and memorable zoo adventure with the world-renowned Torre Design Consortium leading the way

  • Baton Rouge’s reimagined zoo will be the entertainment and educational destination for residents and tourists in the Baton Rouge region.
  • This transformation of the Baton Rouge Zoo will enhancer best practices in animal management, natural environments, visitor engagement and public education.
  • Baton Rouge’s reimagined zoo represents a significant commitment to Baton Rouge as a center for conservation and education excellence.
  • Best of all this zoological journey will engage hundreds of thousands of visitors in a compelling and memorable wildlife experience, unique to Baton Rouge and a draw for anyone planning to visit the area.
  • In 2016, 40.8% of children in Baton Rouge lived below the federal poverty line. Most of these children have never seen a wild animal more exotic than a sparrow, squirrel or a cat. A state-of-the-art Zoo will provide our city’s most under resourced children with the opportunity they might never otherwise have to see and learn about animals from around the world as well as importance of conservation on a field trip.
  • Baton Rouge deserves a state-of-the-art zoo!
How to Make it Happen
  • Our Zoo leadership is united and determined to give Baton Rouge a world-class zoo and entertaining experience for those who visit it. This combined park and zoological journey will be a key cultural cornerstone of this growing and dynamic city, and one that will draw people to the region and its residents will use and enjoy for years to come.
  • Big ideas take time. Our Zoo leadership is dedicated to transparency during the planning process and will share updates as the project advances with the skilled expert consultants leading the way.
  • All options and opportunities are on the table and each will be evaluated in light of the vision that has been created for the Baton Rouge Zoo. Everyone involved wants what is best for Baton Rouge and will work to make it happen.
  • Community input will be key to the planning process to ensure that the zoo is viable and sustainable for generations to come.
Summary of Impact:

The Zoo at its core is a conservation organization with potential to play an even larger role in the wildlife conservation community. In this greater vision of a totally reinvented Zoo, it could provide:

  • A fun, safe and active family adventure that promotes overall mental and physical wellness.
  • A living classroom and education leveraging school-based curriculum, inspiring lifelong learning.
  • A tourist and convention guest destination further supporting the economic development.
  • An ideal collaborative partner for other cultural, social service and community organizations for maximum public impact

Vision for Greenwood Community Park

Sasaki Associates, an internationally renowned urban environmental design firm will lead the way in creating a master plan that will allow our Zoo to be artfully integrated into the overall 660-acre Greenwood park that will serves as the new gateway for the Baton Rouge Zoo. Visitors to our Zoo will enter through the park and experience a drive that will provide beautiful viewsheds and scenery as they approach the Zoo’s entrance.

Our vision for Greenwood incorporates visually inspiring landscapes that will contain a new meandering drive network with new access points. This new network will stitch the existing fragmented components of the park into a more cohesive park experience. Natural surface walking trails, open green spaces, paved bikeways, new recreation facilities as well as park program elements that will weave throughout the site. Those elements will be chosen after carefully vetting input from community leaders, partners and residents through participation in meetings and surveys.

Careful analysis of the site’s natural systems will inform the design of these landscape elements using the best environmental science practices. Understanding and preserving the site’s history and creating interpretive opportunities will be of the utmost importance in creating this natural and beautiful gateway to our Zoo.

Sasaki Consultants, an internationally renowned urban environmental design firm will lead the way.