As early as 1960, a zoo in Baton Rouge, Louisiana had been an idea dreamed up by the Recreation and Parks Commission. In 1965, Louisiana taxpayers approved a mileage election that provided $375,000 in revenue, which was procured for constructing the facility. A Zoo Director was hired to assist with designing and implementing plans for the zoo, and the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation matched the existing funds.
Construction of the zoo began in 1966, and the BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo was first opened to the public on Easter Sunday in 1970. Over time, the zoo has continued to grow in popularity and has become the number one tourist attraction in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Guests are invited to view a collection of more than 1,800 animals that call the beautifully landscaped zoo home.
One of the greatest historical occasions at the zoo was the Penny March which raised funds to assist the zoo with purchasing a new elephant. The Elephant Oasis contains a shaded pavilion from which guests have prime views of the zoo's collection of Asian elephants. The exhibit is an informational display filled with conservation graphics and videos about the elephants, a sculpture of a baby elephant and a misting system designed to keep guests cool in the heat of the summer. The focus of the program is to enable elephants to be placed in the spotlight and talk about their plight in the wild. As an educational and interest point of the zoo, the oasis is dedicated to making sure future generations have the chance to see and learn about the magnificent creatures.
Guests will enjoy the Otter Pond, an exhibit that features a replica of a fishing cabin, complete with an underwater viewing of the otters. The L'aquarium de Louisiane is an exhibit that features the fish, reptiles and amphibians of Louisiana. At Parrot Paradise, guests can stroll through an aviary and view rare and exotic birds from all over the world. Located next to the Kids Zoo, the Safari Playground allows young visitors to interact and feed farm animals.
BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo participates in both conservation programs and Species Survival Plans, with other zoos from around the world. The zoo was the first in Louisiana to receive accreditation by the Association for Zoos and Aquariums, and is a leader in the zoo field. Because of the zoos long term commitment to Species Survival Plans, three species of animals, the Guam Rail, the Arabian Oryx and Golden Lion Tamarin have been successfully reintroduced into the wild.
The zoo features in-house and outreach educational programs designed to raise public awareness and interest about the plight of wildlife. BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo is devoted to providing excellence in animal care, education, recreation and conservation, and in turn to inspire respect for nature and wildlife. The zoo is open daily from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm, and is committed to the safety and comfort of both the animals and visitors as well.