Updated: The Louisville Zoo is instituting a $5 parking fee per vehicle.
The per-vehicle fee is expected to generate more than$500,000 a year that will be used for facility need, zoo officials said. Zoo members won’t have to pay the fee per trip—parking will be included in the membership.
Louisville Zoo director John Walczak said no membership fee increase associated with the parking fee is planned.
The parking fee will start on March 16. The fee will be collected at the zoo’s admission window or online when they purchase tickets via the zoo’s website.
In a statement, the Louisville Zoo says: “The Louisville Zoo is now 44 years old and we are committed to maintaining a quality Zoo for generations to come. This requires continual maintenance upkeep for both safety and beautification.”
The referenced maintenance and upkeep includes “freshening up” older exhibits, maintenance on roofs and buildings and paving and repairing walkways, the zoo said. A 2012 facilities assessment said that the zoo needed $42 million in maintenance work.
Louisville Zoo director John Walczak said the revenue generated from the parking fee will go to a capital reserve for “larger” projects.
“Things that are beyond a year-to-year maintenance budget,” Walczak said.
Walczak said the fee may also encourage people take steps to avoid the fee—which often would be environmentally friendly.
“If people figure out greener ways to get to the zoo, I think that’s fantastic,” he said. “If it’s riding their bike or walking or taking TARC, carpooling, whatever. Our mission is to better the bond between people and the planet and, certainly, energy conservation is a huge part of that.”
Parking costs for special events will be handled on a case-by-base basis, the zoo said.
The Louisville Zoo said that parking fees are common at major zoos in the region, including in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis.