Home Opinion Dear Editor Eager to see zoo improvement plan

Eager to see zoo improvement plan

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Decades ago, zoos were considered to be among the most benign and endearing of the institutions for the enjoyment by humans. While some of that glow has diminished, particularly in the eyes of animal rights groups, Lisa Dunlap’s recount of the zoo survey in Nov. 23, 2017, Roswell Daily Record points to a very “pro-zoo” vote by survey respondents — and that is no surprise. Attendance underscores the fact that Roswellians love their zoo.

Among this small-town’s cultural institutions, we know that Roswell’s museums are second to none. With a little tweaking, the zoo can be an equal partner and contributor.

For a moment let’s set aside the more obvious components of our zoo such as the animals, visitors, the staffing and Roswell’s budgetary burdens. Let’s talk money.

First, there is the question of charging admission. While this step would be appropriate, not everyone needs to pay the same rate. Those living in Roswell and Chaves County are already paying for the zoo through their taxes, a fact that must be taken into account. Visitors from outside of the city and county should pay a larger rate so as to equalize the cost-sharing.

Next, we don’t need exhibits that cost taxpayers millions of dollars. We are not in the middle of an oil patch, swimming in dollars. New and renovated exhibits along with careful landscape planning can heighten comfort and reduce stress not only for the animals, but for the attendants and visitors as well.

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And let’s not build a new zoo all at once. By sequencing new exhibits and programs through time, the zoo can focus on what visitors like best as well as have something new each year for several years to come.

Based on a national average of city population sizes and zoo attendance, Roswell zoo has a modest attendance. Current visitation underscores the public’s satisfaction with much that the zoo and park currently offer; we must not lose track of that point.

The next step, a design and master plan from the consultants, should be available soon and I am as eager as anyone else to see it.

There is much to be gained by Roswell’s intention to embark on a zoo renovation program that will lead to a boost in attendance by Roswell’s population of all ages and contribute to elevating Roswell’s economic growth in the years to come. Let’s go for it.

Ray Pawley Arabela

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