The Reid Park Zoo Expansion Advocacy Group was established in April, 2021 with a dual purpose. First, our overarching objective is to express our own strong support for the planned expansion of the Reid Park Zoo of Tucson, Arizona. We believe that by contributing to public understanding of the Reid Park Zoo’s facilities, animals, and core mission, we will engender increased community endorsement of the future of one of our city’s premier institutions.
The Reid Park Zoo, established in the mid-1960s, has grown modestly into a small but beautiful destination. It is fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a sought-after designation which demands the highest quality of animal care, a commitment to conservation both on the grounds and worldwide, and exacting oversight. Importantly, being part of the AZA also gives the Zoo the ability to participate in breeding programs for endangered animals, and further to contribute to research on the lives and specific needs of these creatures. Obviously, an expanded Zoo will mean the opportunity to participate in the work of saving additional irreplaceable species.
The Reid Park Zoo is widely acknowledged as a true community treasure which attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually. Thus the Zoo plays a substantial role in Tucson’s all- important tourism industry, as it is centrally located, boasts oasis-like grounds, and has extremely moderate admission fees. But it also fulfills perhaps a more crucial local role in conservation and sustainability education, welcoming about 30,000 schoolchildren and their teachers every year at no charge.
The Zoo has an active education department, providing outreach to community groups and schools, and it boasts a robust volunteer corps – from teenagers who go through training in the summer, to interns from the University of Arizona, to the Docent program. Every volunteer is carefully trained to interact with the public and provide accurate messaging about the Zoo’s animals and mission of conservation. They are also trained to interact with the public in order to create positive and memorable experiences for every guest.
The plans to improve the existing facilities, as well as enlarging the Zoo’s footprint in Reid Park, were funded by two ballot initiatives passed in 2017, and designs and the Master Agreement were approved by the Tucson Mayor and Council in October 2018. Since that time, early phases of the expansion, which comprise improvements within the Zoo’s current grounds, have been successfully accomplished.
Now to our second purpose: by publishing information about the Reid Park Zoo’s expansion plans, as well as the Zoo’s current facilities and purposes, we not only hope to disseminate information about the Zoo more widely in the Tucson community. Due to emerging controversy in the community, we are also determined to disabuse the public of the misinformation about the Zoo that has unfortunately received local publicity in recent months.
We are confident that if enough members of the Greater Tucson community are adequately and accurately informed about the Reid Park Zoo, they will surely share our enthusiasm and support for its expansion.