Tulsa Zoo Hopes To Expand Elephant Exhibit With Vision Tax Funds

Monday, March 14th 2016, 3:07 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The Tulsa Zoo is hoping to build up tourism through the next Vision sales tax.

Monday was a busy day at the zoo, busy enough that we saw people getting there and turning around to leave because of the crowd.

With Vision money, the zoo hopes for bigger crowds and a better way to get them in and out.

Spring Break is prime time for the zoo; and the combination of a school holiday and good weather brings out some of the biggest crowds of the year.

With vision money - $5 million - the zoo wants to rebuild the entrance and widen the bridge to handle the growing numbers of visitors.

Inside, a five acre, $18 million "Lost Kingdom" exhibit is just getting started. The zoo expects that when it opens next year, it will attract 100,000 more people each year.

The bigger plan is to use $20 million of Vision money to expand the elephant area from a small pen to ten acres. The zoo would add to the herd and expects the new attraction would draw in another 250,000 people.

It's all part of a master plan to rebuild old exhibits and, for the first time, group animals by origin.

“So, when the kids are out here and see the tigers are in the Asian area, they automatically understand that tigers and snow leopards are from Asia. And now they don't get that because the elephants are in the Africa area of the zoo, so it's another way to educate our guests and give the animals a more immersive environment, which is important to us,” said Lindsay Hutchison with the Tulsa Zoo.

The zoo already is Tulsa's busiest attraction, with 620,000 visitors a year, and believes with some Vision money that attraction would only grow.

The Lost Kingdom will open next spring. If the Vision package passes, the expansion of the elephant exhibit would come several years after that.

The vote is April 5.