'Improve Our Tulsa' Initiative Could Have Big Impact On Zoo

Sunday, November 10th 2013, 10:59 pm
By: News On 6

On Tuesday, voters will decide on a $918 million plan that would pay for projects across Tulsa.

It's mostly for roads and public safety.

But News On 6 reporter Grant Sloan shows us the impact the "Improve Our Tulsa" initiative, would have on the city's most visited attraction.

More than 500,000 people visit the Tulsa Zoo every year.

And supporters say, if the 918 million dollar initiative passes - by 2015, kids would be roaring as soon as they walk through the gates.

"I think it teaches an appreciation," president of Tulsa Zoo management Terrie Correll said. "Perhaps we can inspire some young scientist."

Correll said the zoo stands to gain just under $12 million from the budget item.

Roughly $4 million would help build a brand new "Lost Kingdom" exhibit near the front entrance - showcasing tigers and leopards.

The other $8 million would help rebuild the nearly 50-year-old lion facility.

Chrissy Thompson and her family have visited the zoo more than 40 times this year, but she's been visiting the lions her entire life.

"It's old, it's a little small, there's not much as far as a grass area and cement," Tulsan Chrissy Thompson said.

Supporter say where the lions exhibits will undergo changes, too.

In addition to making it safer for keepers when they feed the lions - the floors would be heated, and the area would be naturally lit - boosting the mood of the animals.

"They don't seem to be very active… you go over there, and I've never seen the tiger move once," Broken Arrow resident Brian Barth said.

Right now, the Tulsa Zoo has more than 500 species of animals, and they say if the ballot measure passes, they'll be able to add two more, Chinese Alligators and Red Pandas.

The new exhibits would also feature glass barricades, instead of deep cement ravines, allowing visitors to get closer to the large animals.

Supporters say if the measure doesn't pass, it would delay their 20-year renovation master plan.

The Zoo also runs the risk of losing it's USDA license for falling facilities.

"I think the zoo is one of those great community resources that we want to improve on, and that our community deserves to have," Correll said.

View the list funded by Proposition 2

View the list funded by Proposition 3

Read a sample ballot and the propositions ahead of next week's vote