TUCSON, Ariz. — A petition to "Save the Reid Park Duck Pond" now has more than 5,000 signatures online at change.org.
Organizers say the Reid Park Zoo is taking away free public space and wasn't transparent about expansion plans.
“Especially right now with the pandemic,” said Petition Organizer Jessica Flax. “We are starting to see how important those free green spaces are.”
The area is currently fenced off for soil testing. It should reopen soon before construction early next year. “Nobody has mentioned what’s at stake here,” said Flax. “I don’t think anybody knew we would be losing these spaces if that was more transparent people would have said something about it.”
Reid Park Zoo CEO Nancy Kluge says there have been public meetings on their expansion since 2017.
“I understand there is a lot of information out there and it's hard to know everything,” said Kluge. “Not everybody may have heard, but we really tried to do our best to get the word out.”
There are also concerns about trees being cut down and habitat being damaged. Kluge says they are working with wildlife experts and arborists.
"We actually had a design drafted and did that design to work around some of those beautiful trees that are there so we can maintain them,” said Kluge.
Kluge says the area will be part of an expanded tiger exhibit. The larger pond to the north will still be open to the public and upgrades to public areas like a splash pad are planned as well.
Flax is hoping her petition can stop the plans from moving forward.
“They haven’t started construction yet, and I know it's a big pain to go and redo all the plans, but I would hope they would take public input into consideration and redo the plans.”