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Zoos SA halts plans for African safari experience

Zoos SA halts plans for African safari experience
October 17, 2011

Zoos SA has put plans to build a $30 million Wild Africa safari experience at its open-range Monarto Zoo on hold, but plans to continue to work towards the project.

Despite being over $24 million in debt, a Zoos SA spokesperson recently confirmed that the plans to build tourist facilities and a five-star lodge at the zoo, 60 kilometres southeast of Adelaide, had not been cancelled.

The spokesperson explained "the Wild Africa concept is about providing an accessible safari experience, for those who cannot afford the time or money to travel outside Australia, through overnight accommodation ranging from tents to lodges.

"Concepts and plans for the Wild Africa project are ongoing and continue to be discussed."

Former Zoos SA President Heather Caddick first raised plans for an African-style game park and five-star accommodation at Monarto, the world's largest open-range zoo, in early 2009.

At the time Caddick explained "the idea is for an 80 hectare enclosure that will have giraffe, zebra, antelope and the rhinos all mingling together.

"We're going to give an African wildlife experience with safari-tented accommodation - you won't have to fly to Africa."

Zoos SA Chief Executive Chris West later said Wild Africa would cost up to $30 million and be finished within three years.

The Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, which oversees Zoos SA and runs the Adelaide Zoo and Monarto, is struggling to remain viable amid mounting debts.

The South Australian Government has provided emergency funding for the organisation State Treasurer Jack Snelling stating "our understanding from Zoos SA is that any plans they have for expansion are currently on hold while they work through their financial situation."



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