SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Zoo entrance is going to get a major facelift.
The zoo’s management team announced Wednesday that plans are in the works for a completely reimagined, redesigned, and expanded zoo entry with immersive and interactive experiences.
“I would describe the state of our current entrance as outdated, uninspiring, and operationally challenging. We are looking to create an experience at our entrance that better represents our city, our zoo, and creates an exciting sense of arrival,” said San Antonio Zoo president and CEO Tim Morrow.
Zoo officials shared renderings of the new entrance, which is designed to reflect the sights, sounds, and culture of the city and will include art by local artists.
Upgrades for the zoo entry aren’t purely cosmetic, there will be a designated entrance for school groups, improved access for visitors that’s farther from the street and more accessibility for guests with disabilities.
“A complete redesign of the 1950′s era front entry area and general improvements to the 107-year-old city-owned property is needed to improve the facility and the comfort and safety of our guests,” Morrow said.
Electronic ticketing kiosks will also be added to the zoo parking garage and the Zoo’s Train Depot/Starbucks plaza to create more purchasing opportunities and reduce lines and waits.
Other projects in the works include a renovation and repurposing of the historic monkey house and surrounding grounds.
The 1950′s-era building used to house primates but closed in 2018 because, according to zoo officials, “it no longer met the standards of the zoo, which has been aggressively improving habitats zoo-wide in recent years.”
Once the building is remodeled, it will house a café, stroller rental/sundry counter, and large, fully accessible restrooms with an adult changing table.
This is one of a number of changes the zoo has undergone in the past several years.
The jaguar skywalk opened to the public in late October as part of the zoo’s new realm called Neotropica.
In late 2020, the zoo’s Savanna exhibit got an upgrade that allowed animals to roam between habitats for the first time in San Antonio Zoo history.
Kronkosky’s Tiny Tot Nature Spot will be getting an overhaul in 2022 with a new glass butterfly house that spans 1,680 square feet and is set to open sometime next year.
Part of the funding for the new entry project and upgraded infrastructure is expected to come from San Antonio’s 2022 bond package if it passes. Donations are also being secured through a philanthropic effort dubbed Generation Zoo. Anyone wanting to contribute can email the zoo’s development team at Development@sazoo.org.
Construction on the new entrance is expected to start in late 2023 or early 2024 as part of Phase One of the zoo’s master plan if the bond is approved, according to spokesperson Hope Roth.
Phase One is expected to cost between $60-70 million with the updated entrance expected to cost $15-20 million.