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MPZ Moving Forward With Flamingo Exhibit Plans

BLOOMINGTON - The Parks and Recreation Department in Bloomington made it through budget cuts this year, without suffering any major setbacks.
BLOOMINGTON - The Parks and Recreation Department in Bloomington made it through budget cuts this year, without suffering any major setbacks.

But some city council members are still calling the zoo a luxury.

"I've heard an awful lot from the neighbors, from folks in my ward, my constituents, that they really don't need this now,” said Ald. Kevin Lower.

Both Lower and fellow council member Judy Stearns say the zoo is frivolous at a time where the city is making major cuts elsewhere.

"I think we should expand and enhance the exhibits that we have,” said Ald. Judy Stearns.

Many city council members say it's more than a need, but a potential economy driver. On Monday night, the zoo was waiting to get approval for an architect on a new flamingo exhibit.

"It speaks to something that I hear from people all the time, and that is taking care of the good things that we have, and the Miller Park Zoo is a wonderful asset for our community,” said Ald. Karen Schmidt.

Superintendent Jay Tetzloff's vision for the zoo has grown substantially in the last five years. Studies show the zoo could get at least 50,000 more visitors if the flamingo exhibit gets completed.

"We are kind of hitting the point where we need to add new exhibits,” said Tetzloff.

The last new exhibit at the zoo was built in 2004, and now, thanks to council's collective okay, the architect can get to work.

The only way that's going to happen is if we, along with the zoological society partner and continue to invest in it. Then, I think we'll have that bigger return on it,” said Schmidt.

“It's time to show a new style of zoo, which is what we want to do,” said Tetzloff. “We want to improve the zoo, what we have and we're looking forward to the first project being flamingoes.”

The zoo plan also will set up a South America exhibit. Tetzloff says the flamingoes could be up in about a year.

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