The Roger Williams Park Zoo this week revealed its 20-year master plan to renovate the zoo in three phases.
Last year voters approved a bond that set aside $15 million to cover the cost of the zoo renovation’s first phase. Each phase, which will add new exhibitions, will cost $25 million. The first phase will include a new rain forest building and a new education center. The old education center will be repurposed to a reptile house, the first one in New England, said Roger Williams Park Zoo Executive Director Jeremy Goodman.
He said the new exhibitions will reflect the institution’s long history of conservation.
“We want to weave education and conservation throughout all the new exciting exhibits we have planned,” said Goodman.
Goodman notes the zoo attracts more than 650,000 visitors each year, making it Rhode Island’s number one family tourist destination.
“With each new exhibit built and new feature we add, we should see an attendance spike of somewhere between 15 to 20 percent.”
Goodman said that means more out-of-state tourists, who make up a quarter of the zoo’s visitors. He said that will drive more dollars not just to the zoo, but also to local restaurants and hotels.
Goodman said plans are already underway for phase one, including fundraising for the remaining $10 million to pay for it.
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