SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Zoo released first renderings of its re-imagined entrance. The work is part of a long-term master plan to improve zoo infrastructure and safety.
The work will improve accommodations for people who use wheelchairs and provide more interactive experiences for park guests, according to their Facebook page.
The new, two-story entryway will feature local artwork, a designated gate for school groups, electronic ticketing kiosks and a terrace.
Tim Morrow, the zoo's CEO, says he envisions guests using the entry's plaza for weddings and get-togethers.
"We really want it to feel like San Antonio's zoo," he said. "We don't want be Dallas, Houston or Memphis."
He said the new gateway will have a Mercado Square feel.
Workers would also renovate the historic monkey house and its surrounding grounds. The building was built in the 1950s, but closed in 2018 due to poor conditions.
"A complete redesign of the 1950s-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.
The zoo says they are hoping to restore the building to feature a plaza, café, stroller rental and restrooms.
"We've put over $50 million in upgrades in the zoo grounds in the last seven years and our front gate doesn't show it," Morrow said. "When you pull up to the front gate now, it kind of looks like somebody's house."
Workers will move the entrance away from the street and re-align walkways to make ingress and egress safer. They'll also flatten hills that make parts of the entryway difficult to navigate for stroller-pushers or people using wheelchairs.
Fundraising for the project is ongoing, though Morrow said he hopes construction can begin next year. It's possible the new entrance is finished by spring break of 2023.
The current iteration of the city's 2022 bond proposal would earmark roughly $10 million for the zoo. Morrow said the gateway project will cost between $15 million and $20 million.
The new renderings are part of the zoo's $200 million vision for the next decade.