Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo officials discuss 2020-2021 budget details

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MONROE, LA (03/04/20)– The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo say regardless of what people say in the community, they are always working to improve things in the zoo. Sometimes these fixes are visible to the guests’ and other times they aren’t.

Monroe City Council held its 2020-2021 budget meeting on Wednesday. While the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo’s budget is functionally the same as last year, zoo officials say they plan to take steps towards more improvements. They also plan to offer more to the community.

“We hope to be able to move some of the older buildings from the zoo that can’t be brought up to a modern standard of animal care,” said Joe Clawson, Director of Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo

Clawson says the disposal fee for taking down the Primary Animal Building is estimated at $60,000. The other changes zoo officials are hoping to make include adding a beaver exhibit, adding bathrooms, and fixing some of the physical features of the zoo. The changes are expected to be possible with this year’s budget as they were able to do projects last year with the same amount.

“We replaced the roof on the reptile building and did some work on the facade. That was a big one. Then we are also are modernizing that building and those exhibits in that building,” said Clawson.

According to the budget meeting, the attraction that brings in the biggest bucks is the train that was put into the zoo in 2018, it brings in about $60,000 a year. The income from the boat ride exhibit matches the train. The splash pad is free, but it’s attracted more visitors to the zoo.

“When we originally put in the splash pad, it boosted our summer attendance by 40% and it’s pretty much maintained that level of attendance throughout the summers,” said Clawson.

He says the zoo is a staple for Monroe.

“The only reason there is a zoo in Monroe is because people have decided to support it for 100 years. Cities the size of Monroe don’t usually have a zoo.

Clawson says he is always looking for ways to enhance guests’ experiences at the zoo.

“Tell me what you like and tell me if we ought to work on things. I would be more than happy to work with any member in the community on improving the zoo,” said Clawson.

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