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Zoo seeks student votes to develop new attractions

Oct. 4, 2000

By NORA FROST

Reporter

Cameron Park Zoo supporters want Baylor students to vote two-by-two and pass a $9.5 million bond that would develop 40 percent more of the zoo by 2002.

'The actual perimeter of the zoo would not change,' said Alice Ogden, a member of McLennan County Friends for Cameron Park Zoo.

Right now, 30 percent of the zoo is developed. Money from the bond would be used to add alligators, bats, mountain lions, ring-tailed cats and river otters to the animal exhibits.

'In 1993, [$4] entitled you to see 54 animals,' said Mark Boyd, president of the Cameron Park Zoo Society. 'In 2000, it entitles you to see 600 animals. In 2002, it would entitle you to see 1,300.'

The society is also planning to add an attraction called Brazos River Country, which would take visitors on tours up the Brazos River. The journey would start in the Gulf Coast area, where visitors would be able to see aquatic wildlife, and then travel northwest through Central Texas.

'It's a responsibility to display the animals of your backyard,' said Joe Grubic, curator of mammals and birds.

One feature of Brazos River Country would be Brazos at Night. Boyd said the nocturnal animals, like skunks and raccoons, would be exhibited in a night-like habitation so visitors could see them active. At night, lights would be brought out so the animals could rest.

The board will proceed with the construction plans even if the bond does not to pass in November.

'The bond would help build it at one time,' Ogden said.

Since it is the only zoo within a 100-mile radius, the group anticipates that the expansion would attract tourists as well as regular visitors.

'Each time we have opened a zoo attraction, the attendance goes up,' Boyd said.

The attendance increase is projected to bring $8 million annually.

'Our economic impact is not just for Waco but for McLennan County as well,' Ogden said.

The zoo would also need to expand job opportunities. Additional staff would be needed for animal maintenance and care, supervisors, grounds maintenance and vendors.

'We would have for the first time a full-time staff vet,' Boyd said.