BREC’s controversial proposal to relocate Baton Rouge zoo goes before public forum

Jake and Tristin Yarborough from Hammond, La., watch as a Sumatran tiger walks past a large glass window in the new Realm of the Tiger exhibit at BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo. The exhibit shows animals from the continent of Asia including Sumatran and Malayan tigers, Siamang gibbons, a Koi pond and a walk-through Asian aviary. (File photo)

The public gets to weigh in on BREC’s desire to move the Baton Rouge zoo from its current north Baton Rouge site to a yet-to-be determined south Baton Rouge location at a community meeting set for this evening.

The ongoing debate over the proposal has heated in recent months, dividing residents and city leaders into two camps: those who support moving the zoo and replacing it with a multiuse park, and those who want major upgrades to the zoo in its current location. Unclear is whether either side is willing to budge.Critics argue BREC has been unwilling to look at alternatives, while BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight says numerous public meetings have been held to gather input.

“I just don’t think they have looked at our idea,” says Coleman Brown, who plans to attend tonight’s meeting and hopes to work with BREC on an alternative to moving the zoo. “We’ve looked at their idea and we don’t like it.”

A vocal group of opponents have already made their voices heard over the past several months, calling the move “disinvestment” in north Baton Rouge and questioning a feasibility study conducted on the idea. A coalition of north Baton Rouge and Mid City community leaders and residents have been the most vocal opponents.

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