Gorillas, Environment Part of Topeka Zoo Strategic Plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The future of gorillas at the Topeka Zoo is among areas of focus in a strategic plan released publicly Friday.

The plan is divided into eight key areas: conservation, education, guest experience, leadership, animal care, animal health, finance and support society.

Under animal care, zoo officials list evaluating a plan for their aging gorilla, Tiffany. The zoo's only remaining gorilla turns 44 in July and has ongoing health issues. The plan says the zoo must decide whether to include expansion of its gorilla exhibit space in a "Renew the Zoo campaign." If not, it says, the zoo must determine alternate use for the area.

Zoo Director Brendan Wiley says the mission and value statements included in the plan put all zoo staff on the same page for their path into the future, with emphasis on integrity, conservation and education. He says it reflects the feeling that a zoo is no longer simply about entertainment, but about making a difference.

Other points in the strategic plan include an annual review of animal health protocols, developing a long-term funding strategy, improving interactive displays at animal exhibits and reducing the carbon footprint of select buildings and the concessions area. It also includes a goal to improve healthy offerings from the concessions area.

In addition, the plan sets a goal to increase attendance to 250,000 a year by 2015. The 2012 goal is 167,000 guests.

According to notes included in the document, the ideas in the plan would cost an estimated $170,000 in 2012, plus $1.2 million in bonds, and another $486,000 in 2013.

Wiley will update the city council on the plan at their meeting Tuesday. Wiley said the plan was developed over the past two years and has been guiding zoo staff for several months already, but this is the first time it's being discussed publicly.

A copy of the complete strategic plan is attached.

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