BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Bike trails, splash pads and so much more are all part of the future of BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo and renovated Greenwood Park now that commissioners gave the go-ahead to the bold new masterplan at their regular meeting on Wednesday, September 18.
“What you’ve been to do is produce something that’s many people have gotten behind and I think it’s going to be very, very exciting to move forward from here,” BREC commissioner Davis Rhorer said.
An adventure playground, a promenade along the bayou and a relocated new entrance to tie it all together will soon take shape. BREC superintendent Corey Wilson said it’s a combination of a lot of hard work and dedication.
“A lot of community engagement. It took a lot of planning and we’re happy to be at this stage but we’re still a long way to go before we see these things become a reality,” he added.
Wilson believes the ambitious plan will breathe new life into the 50-year-old, 600-acre attraction. He said the focus is getting the zoo reaccredited as soon as possible.
“That is the number one priority with this first phase,” Wilson said. “All of the community is on the same page now and I think when we’re all on the same page, the sky is the limit and anything is possible.”
This major step forward comes more than a year after a bitter battle over whether to relocate the zoo to Airline Highway was shot down in a unanimous vote by BREC commissioners in March 2018.
East Baton Rouge Parish councilwoman Chauna Banks calls it refreshing to see the energy around the effort now that the focus is on investment.
"I’m just very excited. It’s what I always thought was possible,” Banks said. “It just needed energy. It just needed someone who would champion the cause of the zoo and I think that’s who we have now.” She believes the plan promises an exciting and bright new future for a long-term community gem.
“We’re looking forward to having these world-class facilities right here in our back yard,” said Banks.
The first phase of the project should be completed by the end of 2021.