$ 650 million plan would give Los Angeles Zoo a flashy transformation

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FILE - In this file photo from Jan.21, 2016, school children arrive at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles.  A controversial $ 650 million plan would give the Los Angeles Zoo a theme park-style makeover.  The Los Angeles Times says the zoo tucked away in Griffith Park would have exhibit upgrades and new attractions such as a 60-foot-deep canyon for climbing and a California hilltop center in the Yosemite lodge style with stunning views of 25,000- square foot vineyard if the

FILE – In this file photo from Jan.21, 2016, school children arrive at the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles. A controversial $ 650 million plan would give the Los Angeles Zoo a theme park-style makeover. The Los Angeles Times says the zoo tucked away in Griffith Park would have exhibit upgrades and new attractions such as a 60-foot-deep canyon for climbing and a California hilltop center in the Yosemite lodge style with stunning views of 25,000- square foot vineyard if the “20-Year Vision Plan” is approved. (AP Photo / Nick Ut, File)

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A $ 650 million plan would give the Los Angeles Zoo a theme park-style transformation over the next 20 years.

The city-owned zoo in the Griffith Park area of ​​the city would benefit from exhibition upgrades and new attractions such as an 18-meter-deep canyon for climbing and a hilltop building called the California Center in the style of a Yosemite National Park lodge with sweeping views of a 25,000-square-foot (2,323-square-meter) vineyard, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

Supporters of the zoo’s “20-year vision plan” said building the features would increase zoo attendance by 72%, up to 3 million visitors per year.

But the construction would consume 23 acres (9.3 hectares) of native forest, drawing opposition led by the Friends of Griffith Park historic preservation group and the California Native Plant Society.

Zoo officials were thinking of the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 when developing the plan, said Denise Verrett, director and general manager of the zoo.

“What are we going to do to attract international travelers to the zoo as a must see? Said Verrett.

The renovation would take place in seven phases starting next year and would be funded by grants and donations collected by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, a nonprofit support group, and possibly a show from bonds, the Times said.

The next step in the proposal is for review by the Los Angeles City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health, Education and Neighborhoods Committee.

The zoo is counting on $ 11.6 million from the city’s general fund to meet its fiscal budget of around $ 25 million for 2021-2022.

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