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 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.

Over the first five years, the new Baton Rouge Zoo, if relocated, will support over $178 million in economic benefits, to the Baton Rouge MSA and annually provide employment for 414 direct and indirect jobs.

Why Should the Zoo Move?

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.
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.
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 future sustainable site best leverages both public & private sources for 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 with visionary leadership have had 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.

Key Factors
Current LocationCurrent Location at CompletionAirline Highway Fairgrounds at Completion
Construction Cost$110,000,000$110,000,000
Timeline for Completion of Construction15 years5 years
Annual Attendance220,000375,000 (15 years)500,000+ (5 years
675,000 (15 years)
Annual Operating Budget$5,500,000$7,500,000$12,5000,000+ (5 years)
$17,600,000 (15 years)
Annual BREC Tax Subsidy50%50%25% (5 years)
20% (15 years)
Direct/Indirect Job Supported Annually214243414
Annual Economic Impact for EBRP$17,670,000$23,900,000$35,600,000 (5 years)
$48,048,000 (15 years)

Why the Airline Highway Park Site is the Ideal Location

  • In the Spring of 2015, our planning process began with leading Zoo designers and business planners. They stated that the current site is not the best location to ensure long-term sustainability and provide the greatest ability to serve the most people possible. In August of 2017, the BREC Commission agreed the zoo should be in the most sustainable location and directed staff to look for the "best alternative" site to ensure long-term success and sustainability.
  • BREC owns the property, which is a major advantage, adding no additional costs and time to the project.
  • The property is sizable. There are a total of 120 acres on site, which means plenty of space to develop the Zoo, parking, and the varying land changes that will need to take place for flood mitigation efforts.
  • The Airline Highway location was always on the top of our list, as it meets all of the “Criteria for Success” outlined below.
  • This prime location is being reconsidered because new information indicates flood mitigation efforts would not only make the property a real possibility, but those mitigation efforts could result in a decrease in the potential for flooding for nearby areas.

Defining the Criteria for Success for the Airline Highway Site

FUNDABILITY OF NECESSARY INVESTMENT: Greater willingness of philanthropic community to fund, which will maximize the public investment.
NUMBER OF UNIQUE IMPRESSIONS: The Zoo’s location adjacent to a major highway and the nearby I-10 will raise daily awareness of the new Zoo.
CONNECTIVITY TO DONORS: The Zoo will be poised to engage the donor community in maximizing funds through private support.
ASSET TO PARISH/REGION: The Zoo will generate over $35M in annual economic benefits and create over 414 direct and indirect jobs.
SYNERGY WITH PARTNERS: The zoo will enable commerce in the area through synergistic partnerships with businesses and other partners that already exist. For example, more than 60 restaurants alone operate within a 3-mile radius of the Airline site, compared to 21 that operate within the same radius of the current site. These businesses and other facilities, including higher education institutions and other learning centers, would benefit greatly from the 500,000 – 675,000 projected annual visitors at the proposed site.
TIMEFRAME TO REACH FULL BUILDOUT OF VISION: The Zoo will be fully operational within 5 years compared to the 15-year buildout at the current site.
PROXIMITY TO CORE AUDIENCES: The Zoo’s annual visitation of 500,000 visitors, increasing to over 675,000 visitors within 15 years, will be sustained through repeat visitation opportunities are generated from the local and regional markets of the Parish.
OPERATIONAL & GUEST DISRUPTION: The Zoo could be built with no negative impact on current Zoo visitors as the new location will be independent of the current site.

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

BREC's Review of the BRNEDD Economic Impact Study

DDG Site Investigation Memo - March 2018

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