Oversight group praises Oregon Zoo bond implementation delivering on voter expectations
Despite a global pandemic, the Oregon Zoo continues to deliver on promises made in 2008, when the region’s voters approved a $125 million zoo bond measure promoting animal welfare and sustainability, an oversight group reports.
At a meeting of the Metro Council last month, the Oregon Zoo Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee praised Metro and zoo staff for their effectiveness in implementing a host of projects made possible by the bond measure.
“The committee is pleased to report that in 2020, bond funds continued to be spent wisely, bond projects were advanced on schedule and within budget, and overall, the bond program is on track to deliver on voter expectations,” wrote committee chair Susan G. Hartnett in a letter introducing the group’s findings.
Hartnett noted that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating financial impact on the zoo, construction activities progressed on schedule. Last spring’s extended public closure allowed work to proceed in the zoo’s central core without concerns about how it would affect guest experience.
“Perhaps that is a bit of a silver lining to the challenges of the last year,” Hartnett wrote.
With all eight major projects now substantially complete, the zoo is putting finishing touches on the final three: improved habitats for primates, rhinos and polar bears.
Unfortunately, due to the restrictions presented by COVID-19, the anticipated celebrations associated with opening new habitats did not take place,” added Hartnett. “The committee remains hopeful that a public celebration of the final three habitats and the program as a whole can take place later in 2021.”
The Oregon Zoo Bond Citizens’ Oversight Committee — a group of local professionals with expertise in animal welfare, sustainability, public budgeting, campus planning, social equity and construction — “provides independent citizen review to help ensure the public’s money is well spent.”
To see their full report, visit bit.ly/OversightReport2021.