Fresno's Chaffee Zoo gets the green light on expansion

FRESNO, Calif.

As the zoo prepares to more than double in size, council members say they just want to eliminate any legal issues that could arise.

A huge crowd of people at Thursday day's meeting cheered as the Fresno City Council unanimously approved the environmental impact report.

The zoo says it can now bring new exhibits and opportunity for education to the Central Valley.

Zoo Director Scott Barton says there is already more than $40 million set aside as part of Measure Z funding, which can only be spent on the expansion. So he promised the city council he would not ask for any city funds for this major project. "We really couldn't be happier, I mean this is exciting. We get to move forward with the plans that were put forward with Measure Z six years ago."

Last week, an attorney for the Roeding family, which donated the park to the city more than a hundred years ago, announced he and a group called "Save Roeding Park" will look into their legal options to stop the expansion.

Zoo officials say Sea Lion Cove is the first major project for this new plan. Construction could begin sometime this summer.

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