Mexican gray wolf refuge, entrance renovations part of ABQ BioPark plan

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Apr. 29—The ABQ BioPark always has a plan.

The more than 150-acre area has to be able to manage its growth — thanks in part to a voter-approved 1/8-cent gross receipts tax (GRT) which was implemented in 2016.

On Tuesday, the BioPark released its Facility Plan, which lists projects planned through the end of the funding cycle in 2031.

"The Facility Plan maximizes our community's investment to realize the greatest effects on animal wellbeing, conservation and guest experience," said Brandon Gibson, ABQ BioPark director. "We are building a BioPark that our community can be proud of and that will have a measurable impact on animals, plants and people in Albuquerque and around the world."

To date, the GRT has helped fund the Asia habitat that opened in October, as well as the Penguin Chill and the North American river otters at the Aquarium.

Those projects were included in the BioPark's 2014 Master Plan.

The plan didn't include budgets or an achievable timeline of projects, nor could it have predicted post-pandemic supply chain disruptions and evolving priorities for the care and conservation of animals and plants.

According to the city, projects were scored against a set of criteria, including safety, mission alignment, inclusion in the original 2014 Master Plan, overall impact, existing infrastructure and cost.

The resulting list of highest-priority projects in the short- and mid-term will impact each of the BioPark's facilities: Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden and Tingley Beach. Funds from the final years of the GRT will continue to be prioritized, allowing for flexibility as the BioPark's and community's needs continue to evolve.

Plans include an interactive ambassador animal complex at the Zoo, major renovations of the entrances at the Zoo and Aquarium/Botanic Garden, a Mexican gray wolf refuge behind the Botanic Garden and shoreline improvements at Tingley Beach.

"GRT funds are allowing us to build best-in-class habitats that far exceed typical zoo animal care standards," said Lynn Tupa, BioPark Zoo manager. "Guests can already see that animals in Asia have increased their natural behaviors and fully engage with their habitats, which elevates their physical and mental wellbeing.