Central Florida Zoo plans $85 million renovation


  • 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.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.