Feathers Ruffled Over Zoo Expansion Plan

Feathers Ruffled Over Zoo Expansion Plan

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Susan Wood ReportingThere are some ruffled feathers over plans to expand Salt Lake's Hogle Zoo -- and they’re not the feathers of birds in the zoo's aviary. They are political feathers -- a Senator and a Mayor are sniping at each other over just who should be getting credit for the plan.

During the debate over whether to move the zoo or keep it where it is, a lot of politicians weighed in. Several different cities, and their mayors, made a pitch for the zoo.

The new Hogle Zoo expansion project brought a lot of praise to State Senate President Al Mansell Tuesday.

Mayor Nancy Workman, Salt Lake County: "I too would like to express my appreciation to Senator Mansell for his leadership..."

Yesterday's decision is a big deal for Salt Lake City; so why wasn't the mayor part of the announcement? The man who says he was behind the idea from the start was conspicuously absent during the announcement.

Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson has never strayed from his idea to expand the existing zoo into “This is the Place State Park." He's been working on the plan for years. So why wasn't he there to help announce it?

Senator Al Mansell, State Senate President: “Mayor Anderson would have been welcome to come but I personally felt like Councilman Buhler should speak for the city council who just passed a resolution and should speak for the district it’s in."

Mayor Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City: "That resolution of support was consistent with what our administration has been urging for over three years."

In fact, Mayor Anderson pushed for this plan during a time Senator Mansell opposed it. The Senate President had been working with West Valley City on creating a new site for the zoo. And the fight over where to put the zoo had politicians going at it like cats and dogs.

While animal lovers just want to see conditions improve at the zoo, the bigger issue appears to be the bottom line.

Sen. Mansell: "You need to understand that Salt Lake City over the last few years has contributed nothing toward the zoo, and that probably won't work."

But Mayor Anderson says that's not true. He says that for years Salt Lake City residents have supported the zoo by paying the ZAP tax. He also intends to add to the pot by recommending a ten million dollar bond to help the zoo expansion. If he's successful, that would be on the November ballot.

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