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Nashville Zoo Announces Expansion Plans

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Nashville Zoo Announces Expansion Plans

CREATED Jul 9, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Expansion plans for the Nashville Zoo include a new African exhibit, more parking, and more animals, officials announced Wednesday.

Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Council members joined Zoo President Rick Schwartz and Zoo Board members for the announcement at the property off Nolensville Road.

A bigger entrance will include a gift shop and a stroller rental station. More parking and public restrooms will also be added.

They also plan to break ground on a new vehicular road that will include two exit lanes to alleviate traffic congestion.

Schwartz said the biggest part of the announcement is a new African exhibit that will include an African safari boat ride. That plan expands on the Zoo's $130-million campaign in 2012 for a 30-acre African exhibit.

Also included in the list of additions is a new, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital.

Officials said some of the new animals include lions, cheetahs, rhinos, gorillas, giant otters, penguins, spider monkeys, and Andean bears.

Metro officials decided last month to allot the zoo $10 million, but the money can't be spent unless the zoo is able to raise dollar-for-dollar matching private investments.

“The Zoo appreciates this public-private partnership with Metro and the support of Mayor Dean’s administration and the Metro Council, who have embraced our mission and demonstrated a serious commitment,” said Rick Schwartz, president of Nashville Zoo. “It is clear that Nashville’s leaders recognize the Zoo’s contribution to our community: As a key entity promoting progress and preservation, and as a vital educational resource and cultural destination with a significant economic impact.”

Spokesperson Jim Bartoo said zoo officials hope to spur donations with the expansion announcement.

The Nashville Zoo is a non-profit organization that attracts more than 776,000 visitors, annually. By land mass, it is the ninth largest zoo in the entire country. 

(The Associated Press Contributed To This Report.)