Purchase Will Expand Jacksonville Zoo (FL)

Jacksonville, FL 8/25/2005: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization, announced today that it has completed a land deal that will add 30 acres to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Earlier this year, TPL was asked by the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Zoological Society to negotiate with the owner of the 30 acres for the long-awaited purchase. Once TPL’s transaction with the owner was finalized, the nonprofit sold the land to the city as an addition to the zoo.

“We are extremely pleased that this acquisition has become a reality for the zoo,” said John Peyton, mayor of the City of Jacksonville. “The assistance of the Trust for Public Land was invaluable and will allow the expansion at the zoo for everyone to enjoy.”

The zoo is owned by the city and operated by the zoological society. With more than 615,000 visitors a year, it is Jacksonville’s most popular park. In the past few years, the zoo has added several new exhibits and has upgraded the facility. Attendance increased by 20 percent in the last year alone.

With the river to the south, Heckscher Drive to the north, and a growing church to the west, this was the only parcel available for the zoo’s expansion. The zoo had tried to purchase this site for many years without success before turning to the Trust for Public Land for assistance.

“I am very pleased that the city was able to get the Trust for Public Land’s considerable expertise in play to help make this acquisition happen,” said Dennis Pate, executive director of Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. “We had been unsuccessful in our attempts to acquire this property over the last 10 years until the Trust for Public Land got involved.”

For 90 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been dedicated to inspiring the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experience in a caring environment. Starting in 1914 with an animal collection that consisted of one red deer fawn, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has grown to house more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and over 1,000 unique plant species. The zoo is a non-profit organization and is an accredited member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA).

“This acquisition is the most significant property addition in the zoo’s history,” said Pate. “It will enable the zoo to expand its animal exhibits, botanical gardens and parking and become a major regional attraction, education, and conservation center in the southeastern US.”

“I am thrilled that our efforts have paid off in the success of this project,” said Susan Grandin, director of the Northeast Florida office of the Trust for Public Land. “The zoo is such an important part of Jacksonville, it was a pleasure to work with the Zoological Society and the City of Jacksonville to provide the giraffes with a little more ‘leg room’.”

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites – over 200,000 acres at a market value of more than $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at 904.388.7595 or visit us on the web at www.tpl.org/florida.