Plans Discussed To Build Zoo In Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There are plans underway to build a zoo in Charlotte.

This week, organizers with Charlotte Zoo say they've taken the necessary steps to purchase 110-acres of land in southwest Charlotte.

The group has now given themselves an August 1st deadline to raise $1.9 million to move the plans forward.

The project has been in the works for 8 years, according to Robert Mussen, president of the Charlotte Zoo.

He says the funds would be used to acquire land from Crescent Communities, and to develop the necessary infrastructure, design and construction.

"We are the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a zoological park and have over 700,000 school age children in the region missing this visual and educational experience. I have lived in Charlotte for 32 years, and admired the area's dedication to make Charlotte a family friendly community. However, I missed going to the zoo with my family while a child living in Chicago," said Mussen.

Ann Coleman lives along Mount Olive Church Road near the proposed site, just west of Charlotte Douglas Airport.

"I welcome the idea. The only concern is about the airport noise for the animals," she said.

Some residents hearing about the plans for the first-time said it's one thing to build a zoo, it's another to keep it going.

"You have to feed the animals, you've got to house them, and love them," said resident Sasha Cach.

The group, however, says its own market analysis shows a city this size can support a city-zoo without government and taxpayer funds.

"We recognize the legacy of the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro and would like to work with them in a cooperative manner to create a synergy that would allow for better education, conservation of species, research and viewing experiences," said Mussen.

Mussen is confident the zoo can serve as an economic engine, bringing more development to the area.

The group estimates 200 new jobs, and an economic impact of $84 million dollars. Their analysis shows the zoo can operate successfully by charging $50 admission for a family of four.

Neighbors say the area is poised for growth. Many residents were forced to relocate because of the airport expansion. Some are, however, excited about the changes, citing the opening of nearby Tanger Outlets, opening its doors next month.

"It's a lot of change going on for people that have been here for a lot of years," said Jamar Brewton.

He says until details are made public about the zoo, he can't fully give it his support.

"I got to understand what's going to happen to people living here already. What about the church? Is the community going to disappear because of the highway, airport, zoo? Are people going to have to move?"

The Charlotte Zoological Park will be holding multiple 'meet ups' from July 9th through August 6th in Mecklenburg and the surrounding 12 counties that make up the CSA (Combined Statistical Area).

The Charlotte Zoological Park is a registered 501.c.3, formed in 2006.


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