How a failed effort to move the Baton Rouge Zoo pitted officials and citizens against one another

The zoo has been struggling. Struggling to attract visitors, struggling to repair aging infrastructure, struggling to find funding, and during one bizarre four-month stretch in 2016, it struggled to keep some of its animals alive.

Since 2015 and possibly earlier, BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight and Zoo Director Phil Frost have toyed with the idea of relocating the zoo from north Baton Rouge to the growing areas on the south side. North Baton Rouge leaders argued it was just another example of the city abandoning a majority black area for the wealthy white suburbs. Others argued a move would be too huge an investment.

But BREC got more serious about it in 2017, and the animal do-do really hit the fan in recent months with rallies, terse public statements and even covert recordings of private meetings.

We take a look at what got us here.

Compiled from 225, Daily Report and other media reports. Information is up to date as of press time in early April.

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.