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Posted on: October 24, 2023

City assists The Texas Zoo with renovations, master plan

Jaguars lie in an enclosure near a large tractor tire

PHOTO: The Texas Zoo is renovating its jaguar exhibit with help from federal American Rescue Plan Act funding from the City of Victoria. In this photo, the jaguars are seen through the protective glass at the new viewing kiosk.

Visitors to The Texas Zoo may notice that some of the exhibits are looking a little nicer these days—and with the City’s support, even more improvements are on the way.

Last year, the City Council agreed to provide $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to The Texas Zoo for facility improvements and a new master plan. On Oct. 18, The Texas Zoo hired Stacey Ludlum with Felis Consulting as the consultant for the Texas Zoo Master Plan.

Jesús Garza portrait“Our Council and City leadership are committed to using ARPA funding for transformational projects with long-term benefits for our residents,” said City Manager Jesús A. Garza. “We’re pleased to be able to work more closely with The Texas Zoo and help to improve this local attraction.”

The agreement is part of an ongoing partnership between the City and the South Texas Zoological Society, which operates the zoo. This partnership aims to increase the City’s support for and involvement with the zoo. Also last year, Council approved an agreement to increase annual funding for the zoo and add two City staff members to the zoo’s board of directors.

Texas Zoo Director Bill Baker stands in front of the jaguar enclosure“Our current board is one of the best and most forward-thinking boards I’ve ever worked with,” said The Texas Zoo Executive Director Bill Baker. “We’re grateful for the City’s support and excited to see the zoo moving in such a positive direction.”

Renovation projects

An enclosure with a protected glass panel and a large adjoining building painted bright redPHOTO: The Texas Zoo added new viewing kiosks with protective glass at the black bear and jaguar exhibits, and they are also renovating the “night houses” where the animals go to sleep. In this photo of the jaguar exhibit, the red-and-white structure on the left is the viewing kiosk, and the red building is the jaguar night house.

The ARPA funds have been used for multiple ongoing or recently completed projects throughout the zoo, including:

  • Renovation of the ocelot exhibit, including guard rails and electrical, structural and roofing repairs
  • Renovation of the jaguar exhibit, including guard rails, roofing and night house repairs and viewing kiosks with protective glass
  • Renovation of the black bear exhibit, which will include tree trimming, new fencing, night house repairs and viewing kiosks with protective glass
  • Installation of a primary standby generator to ensure that the zoo has emergency power

About the master plan

The roof of a zoo enclosure. Wood lattice covered with mesh wirePHOTO: The Texas Zoo is repairing the roofs of the ocelot and jaguar exhibits. The wood lattice is designed to prevent access by these natural climbers.

The master plan will guide long-term changes to all aspects of the Texas Zoo—not just physical improvements but programs and exhibit offerings as well.

One example of a long-range project that will be addressed in the master plan is the zoo’s institutional collection plan (ICP), which will help the zoo develop a more diverse collection of animals over time.

The plan will also make recommendations to address the issue of flooding at the zoo, which is located in the Guadalupe River floodway.

Get involved

A large circular saw and a pile of fresh two-by-fours sit near a fencePHOTO: The Texas Zoo is repairing the guard rails surrounding some of its exhibits.

As part of the development of the master plan, the zoo will seek the public’s input about the types of changes they’d like to see at the zoo.

“Visitor experience and conservation are our biggest priorities, so we’re looking forward to learning more about the public’s expectations during the community input phase,” Baker said.

The zoo will launch a public survey for the master plan in late November. More information about the survey and other engagement opportunities will be provided as it becomes available.

Stay connected

To learn more about The Texas Zoo, visit www.texaszoo.org

To view past City Council meetings and agendas, visit www.victoriatx.gov/tv15

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