Children’s Zoo expansion gets nod

Posted By: Nicole Cousins

It’s been a long road, but the fun can finally begin for the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

The $16 million project was passed by City Council Monday.

"We’re excited for new animals, we’re excited for year round for the kids,” the zoo’s president, John Chapo, said. “We’re excited about growing our education programs and growing our zoo school."

The five acre expansion will allow the popular attraction to add more animals and activity areas while also growing its partnership with Lincoln Public Schools.

The project was originally slated for City Council approval back in November…

"There’s been some finger chewing and worrying but we’ve always reached out we’ve always stepped forward to see what we can do best for our community."

The major hold up didn’t come from the zoo itself, but from a proposed parking lot expansion near 33rd and O Streets.

It suggested taking green space from Woods Park and converting it to a parking lot for Parks and Recreation employees.

They will be moving to the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department Building.

But the nearby Woods Park and Witherbee Neighborhood Associations had reservations about replacing green space with concrete.

"This part of the project would cause a delay in actually beginning the project up to too months,” Councilman Roy Christensen said. “As council members sometimes we have to decide which good demands the most attention."

City Council also wanted to make sure the change didn’t step on federal park regulations.

With the approval, the zoo plans to start construction by next spring.

As for what animals will be coming to Lincoln, we’ll have to wait and see.

Chapo said there are about 300 species they have to choose from.