Voters to consider $14.5M bond for Cameron Park Zoo expansion project

Local News

The Cameron Park Zoo could be showcasing a new penguin exhibit if voters approve a $14.5 million bond.

This, after County Commissioners voted Tuesday night to approve the ballot proposition on the election in November.

“You never know until you try, you know, build it and they will come,” said Waco Resident Dawn Schulz.

$14.5 million dollars to expand and renovate the 26-year-old staple in McLennan County.

“To expand on our education programming, our veterinary services and add one of the coolest exhibits in the United States, the South African penguins,” said Johnny Binder, Interim Zoo Director at Cameron Park Zoo.

Black-footed penguins are currently endangered, and the zoo hopes to house them in what they call, the “Penguin Shores” habitat.

Binder says animals need these types of sanctuaries to survive.

“50 years ago there were over 140 thousand pairs of African penguins now that’s down to 20 thousand pairs,” added Binder.

Zoo guests say a new exhibit is just what the 52-acre lot needs.

“I think that would be really cool, because they already have like an otter slide, they already got all sorts of really cool exhibits, I think a penguin one would suit it nicely,” said Elizabeth Stephen, who was visiting the park from Round Rock.

But, two Facebook pages — the “McLennan County Residents Opposed to the Zoo Bond” and the “Cameron Park Zoo Wants to Steal Your Money” call the zoo a “money pit that loses money every year.” They want residents to vote “no” on every bond.

“The younger crowd that are old enough to vote probably wouldn’t vote for it, but I would say you know young families and even grandparents like myself would probably vote for it,” said Susan Sharp, Waco Resident.

As for taxpayers, the zoo says the bond is tax neutral, which means it will not impact property taxes.

“I believe our citizens will really support it, we have a lot of folks out in the county that love our zoo,” said Binder.

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