BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Less than eight hours before BREC commissioners are set to vote on whether to relocate BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo, a number of recordings were leaked to the media from an anonymous source, only identifying themselves as "zoo friends." The anonymous group confirms to 9News that a BREC employee did capture the recording during a staff meeting. A BREC spokeswoman confirms that they also believe that the leaked audio was created by an employee within BREC.
The recordings appear to be of BREC commissioner Carolyn McKnight speaking to a group of people the anonymous source refers to as BREC commissioners and other agency leaders.
In those recordings, McKnight, among other things, appears to be heard identifying potential donors willing to fund some of the efforts to relocate the Baton Rouge Zoo to a site other than its current Greenwood Park location in the northern part of the parish. This seems to go against McKnight's previous public statements that she had not yet identified any funding sources specifically and that the agency has not yet moved ahead with exactly how they would fund the project. So far, the agency's leader has only said publicly that she hopes to secure private donors and that incorporating a tax into the plan would be of last resort.
Other comments from the leaked recordings appear to reveal McKnight sarcastically saying that she would love to hand over control of the zoo to another group adding, "that would make my day." The recordings also appear to show McKnight saying that if commissioner would not vote to move the zoo, that it would "die a slow death", suggesting that the funding is not available to sustain the attraction in its current location.
It also appears McKnight can be heard saying that she did not care if the state fair moved out of Baton Rouge to another location if the zoo were to locate to the Airline Highway location, "it's not a real fair anyway. It's more of like a carnival," the recording appears to reveal her saying.
McKnight issued the following response to the recording:
The anonymous group, "zoo friends," also sent a statement to 9news:
BREC commissioners are set to vote on the fate of the zoo at a public meeting at 5 p.m.
EDITORIAL NOTE: WAFB has reviewed the audio files. The quality of the files was poor for redistribution purposes which is why we did not include them in this report.
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