USDA: Monroe zoo must make changes

7/19/2013 8:45 AM
By Associated Press

MONROE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo must make several improves following a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection earlier this month.

The News-Star reports (http://tnsne.ws/153RVMW) a recent inspection found Monroe's zoo needs to construct eight new primate holding pens and remodel the kitchen used for preparing food for the animals.

Zoo director Joe Clawson said officials are getting cost estimates for replacing the primate holding pens. He said that project can be accomplished in-house by using some of the zoo's maintenance budget. There's approximately $80,000 budgeted for maintenance this year.

"I think we can do the projects for the primate holding pens in-house and within our budget," Clawson said.

The kitchen remodeling project will have to go before the City Council in order for bids to be accepted and a contractor selected. A cost estimate is not known at this time, but USDA inspectors said the kitchen needed stainless steel counters and cabinets.

"Those are not cheap," Clawson said. "It could be $40,000, but I don't know that for sure. I just think that's around what it would cost, and I don't have that in the budget."

Clawson said zoo officials are switching priorities from routine maintenance projects in order to make USDA's recommended changes by Jan. 1.

Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said the city would support the projects in order to meet the USDA's requirements.

"It's our intent to continue to improve the zoo in every aspect. If the USDA is requiring certain things that need to take place, we will adhere to those requirements. There have been a number of improvements at the zoo. We believe the zoo is the No. 1 family attraction in Monroe with the number of people who visit it each year. So whatever the USDA requires us to do, we'll do it," Mayo said.

Anyone who conducts business using animals falls under USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, which is charged with ensuring animals are treated in a safe, humane and sanitary manner.

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com


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