ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Easier access, better exhibits and more animals; it’s all part of the big plan to revamp the Albuquerque BioPark. Monday was the last day for the public to meet face-to-face with the planners and offer feedback.
Admission for the zoo was free Monday and people were encouraged to give their opinions on the master plan. The zoo was jam-packed and officials hope some of the changes will better accommodate overflow crowds.
“So far we have about 5,000 people through the gates for the free day,” said Rick Janser, ABQ BioPark Director, around 11 a.m. Monday.
Many people stopped at the zoo’s entrance for a final meeting, to check out and give feedback on the master plan to revamp the area.
“We’ll take everything we get today and kind of look at all them or see if there’s anything we need to tweak in the plan,” Janser explained.
The master plan includes a new single story parking structure at the zoo, and much more parking at the Botanic Gardens and Tingley Beach.
Monday’s overflow into residential streets goes to show, more parking is needed.
“That will make all our neighbors happy I’m sure,” said Janser.
A new shuttle system may also take the place of the train, to transport people quicker from the zoo to the Botanic Gardens, Aquarium and Tingley Beach.
“There’ll be four or five, six shuttles that can carry a lot of people, so it’s moving back and forth,” said Janser. “Instead of people having to wait for the train for a half hour, this is a 10-15 minute wait.”
Zoo visitors posted their thoughts on the plan on a comment board, and comment box. People wrote notes that included upgrade suggestions, a drawing of an elephant, “it’ll never happen,” to several comments about bringing the penguins.
The BioPark society is working to raise $8 million to bring penguins to the zoo. Janser said they’ll go in the Tropical America exhibit.
Other exhibits will be improved, or expanded. There’s plans for an underwater hippo and crocodile viewing area.
But it won’t happen overnight. The multi-million dollar master plan will be implemented slowly overtime.
“I’ll probably be retired by then, when all this comes to fruition,” Janser laughed.
People can still offer feedback on the BioPark’s website or Facebook page. Officials hope the have the master plan ready to present to city councilors by the end of summer. To view the complete master plan presentation as it stands, click here.
The master plan will be completed in three phases over a 20 year period. Janser said parking is at the top of that list. Money for the plan will come from city, county, and state funds.