Over the weekend, attendance at Fresno's Chaffee zoo totaled a record setting 15 thousand-plus visitors.
On Tuesday Zoo Director Scott Barton was focused on the future. While the zoo no longer gets any financial support from the city of Fresno it's operating in the black. Careful use of income from Measure Z operating funds has led to rainy day and an endowment funds. And new exhibits are banked as well.
"$40 million in the bank that we're ready to start construction projects with. We're ready to break ground and move forward with our first projects. We are still planning to go before the city council in June and we are hopeful; for unanimous approval for our first project which is Sea Lion Cove."
However, new exhibits and a larger zoo expansion into Roeding Park are on hold. The 'Friends of Roeding Park' oppose such expansion and legal action is expected going forward. With that in mind the city's environmental impact report that would include park acreage was withdrawn. It's being re-tooled to withstand any potential lawsuit.
Kevin Fabino said, "We've worked tirelessly with the zoo team and our own team to make this the most defensible document we can and to get this done so we can have a great zoo."
In the meantime, Barton says until then, the zoo' staff and the volunteer board will continue to offer the kind of experience that drew a record crowd last weekend.
The revised EIR is expected to be made public before Spring turns to Summer.