Reid Park Zoo’s ‘Pathway to Asia‘ expansion is set for final approval at Tuesday’s Mayor and Council meeting. It’s the final step in what’s become a years-long process following a community effort to prevent zoo expansion into Barnum Hill and Reid Parks’ south duck pondcoveted public green space in one of Tucson’s premiere public parks.

In 2017, voters took to the polls to approve a proposed sales tax increase, generating funds for capital improvements at the zoo. When the zoo later presented its 10-year master plan, a three-phase, three-habitat expansion, some members of the public vocally opposed any expansion into neighboring Reid Park’s green spaces, saying the plans weren’t disclosed prior to the election.

The options presented for zoo expansionseven proposals totalranged from options to expand the zoo into existing parking areas, into the Randolph Golf Course, and into Gene C. Reid Park itself.

A group of concerned citizens emerged, launching a public information campaign and petition to ‘save the duck pond,’ and preserve Reid Park’s existing green spaces for free public use.

In 2021, when construction was originally set to begin, Mayor Regina Romero called for a pause on the expansion, until Mayor and Council were able to agree on a compromised, eventually approved that May.

Earlier in the year, KGUN 9 spoke with Reid Park Zoo CEO Nancy Kluge, who says expanding the park will be a big step in helping the zoo achieve a core missionshowcasing different animals and biomes from around the world to encourage environmental conservation.

“Spread the word about how important it is to protect these animals in the wild: That is really why these animals are here, and why we’re here,” Kluge told KGUN 9. “To take part in conservation projects but also to inspire all of our guests to take part in protecting our planet.”

Kluge says since the compromised plan for the zoo’s expansion has them moving into existing parking areas, work is already underway to build new parking facilities.

When ‘Pathway to Asia’ eventually opens in 2025, the exhibit will feature a Komodo dragon and a red panda, and will be the new home for the zoo’s endangered Malayan tigers.

Craig Smith will have more Tuesday at 5 and 6 p.m. as Mayor and Council vote to give the plan final approval.