|Updated: 11/11/2013 3:51 pm
||Published: 11/11/2013 3:50 pm
On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls to elect Tulsa's next mayor and to decide on Improve Our Tulsa.
The $918 million capital improvements package includes close to $12 million in funding for upgrades at the Tulsa Zoo.
Of that, close to $4 million would build a new tiger and snow leopard exhibit near the front, and the other $8 million would completely rebuild the lion exhibit.
Julie Lorenzen and her three kids practiced their roar at the lion exhibit on Tuesday.
"They do love the big cats. So it's always sea lions, penguins, big cats. That's our order pretty much every time," she said.
And she said improvements to exhibits are always a worthwhile investment.
"We love coming to the zoo, and any time you can get closer and see animals better, I think it's great," she said.
"Guests will be able to get up close and view tigers and snow leopards and lions right next to a big view window," said Terrie Correll, president and CEO of the Tulsa Zoo.
The zoo already has matching private donations to pay for that upgrade but still needs public funding for the rest.
"The animals will have much larger habitats. There will be better back-of-house areas for the animal keepers and the animals when they're off exhibit," said Correll.
Correll explained why the zoo needs the $12 million.
"The current exhibits are outdated in design. They were constructed in the early 1960s. Standards continue to rise," she said.
With more than half a million visitors every year and more than 55,000 students walking through the gates, Lorenzen said this is exactly the kind of place Tulsa tax dollars should be going.
"But I do think the zoo is a valuable investment, and it's a good investment for tax dollars and for communities," she said.
If voters do not approve Improve Our Tulsa, the upgrades will need to be made at some point, it will just take longer to finish them relying solely on private donations.