Zoo Undergoes Largest Strategic Planning Effort Since Inception

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Zoo Undergoes Largest Strategic Planning Effort Since Inception

Posted: 09/08/2014
September 8, 2014 - Knoxville Zoo's board of directors has approved a comprehensive strategic plan that will change the way visitors experience the zoo over the next five years. Adoption of this plan represents the largest strategic planning effort in the history of Knoxville Zoo.

With the initial strategic planning phase complete, Knoxville Zoo will now begin development of a master plan to shape future animal habitats, guest amenities and immersive experiences that will dramatically transform the landscape of the zoo. The first phase of the plan calls for updates to several of the zoo's anchor habitats, including Malayan tigers and reptiles.

"We are thrilled to embark on a dynamic process of creating a master plan that will shape the future landscape of Knoxville Zoo and dramatically change the way visitors experience the zoo for years to come," said Lisa New, the zoo's executive director. "The areas we will focus on first, based on the strategic plan, are those that present the greatest opportunity for improvement and therefore also offer the greatest positive impact for both our guests and the animals."

The proposed improvements, recommended by the nationally recognized consulting firm Zoo Advisors LLC and the board's strategic planning committee is the culmination of several months of study and will result in better facilities for the animals and enhance the viewing and learning experience for guests. ZOO staff now will begin the planning to make the recommendations a reality.

During the evaluation process, the board's strategic planning committee and staff rated exhibits as being red, yellow or green. Green exhibits were considered to be areas of excellence. Yellow exhibits were areas with the opportunity to be reviewed for improvement over the next five years. . Exhibits ranked as red were areas of top priority for renovation and improvements.

The committee, with Zoo Advisor's guidance, evaluated every exhibit at the Knoxville Zoo, and even rated the facilities, including the front entrance gate and restrooms.

Overall, the Knoxville Zoo scored remarkably well, and it continues to be one of the most respected zoos in the zoo community. The majority of the exhibits were designated "green" and in very good condition.

The exhibits identified as priority for attention are the habitats for tigers, reptiles and ambassador animals.

One of the first projects to be addressed will be the construction of a new Malayan tiger habitat where the Southern white rhinoceros currently are located. Visitors will see some animals temporarily transitioned to new homes in the park while construction is underway, but during this time both rhinoceros and tigers will remain available for visitors to view.

The board and staff at the Knoxville Zoo evaluated each recommendation from the strategic planning committee and, based on those reports, outlined a strategic plan that was presented to the Board of Directors for approval. Now that the strategic plan has been approved by the board, staff members will begin working to determine exactly what the updates will include, what they mean for the animals and what visitors can expect upon arrival.

"The Knoxville Zoo is committed to being a place where families, especially children, and all guests come to learn and experience the world of animals and nature, as well as being a place where those animals are provided exceptional care," New said. "After almost a year of intense scrutiny and planning, we're excited to unveil the new direction and believe that it will have a lasting impact for our community."

The Knoxville Zoo will announce additional information about individual exhibit changes and upgrades as the next steps are finalized.

About the Knoxville Zoo

The Knoxville Zoo is the city's largest year-round attraction. Located just east of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, the zoo covers more than 50 acres, is home to some 800 animals and welcomes over 400,000 visitors each year. The Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation and education. The Knoxville Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, call 865-637-5331 or visit www.knoxvillezoo.org.