Photo via Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens/Facebook
One of Seminole County's main tourist attractions, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
, has been giving visitors an up-close look at exotic wild animals for decades. It's due for an update.
On Tuesday, April 11, zoo officials submitted a $85 million master renovation plan to county commissioners. The plan spans 20 years and would call for $54 million to expand animal exhibits and build dozens of new ones. An additional $8 million would go toward a new zoo entrance with a Madagascar theme, reports the Orlando Sentinel
Animal exhibits would be laid out in a “zoogeographic format," with animals grouped depending on the continent — Africa, America or Asia.
Around $18 million would go toward the zoo's primary focus to become a "living laboratory," investing resources in teaching facilities and educational programs for students from elementary school to college.
Officials plan to pay for the upgrades through revenue from visitors, donations, philanthropic support and additional government funding from Seminole County.
Currently, the nonprofit zoo has a $4.2 million annual budget that it funds using visitor fees, donations and a $225,000 annual contribution from Seminole County that is paid for through tourist taxes.
The expansion plans would include the 17 acres Seminole County bought in 2012 for a Wild African Safari Park that never got off the ground.
While the zoo owns 132 acres
, it can only use 25 of them for visitors and animal exhibits because the wetland terrain can't be developed.