Los Angeles Zoo Vision Plan Environmental Impact Report

June 2021 Update: The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Los Angeles Zoo Vision Plan project has been completed. The Final EIR can be viewed via the links below.

The City of Los Angeles (City) Bureau of Engineering (BOE) has prepared a Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Los Angeles Zoo Vision Plan (Project) consistent with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). BOE is the Lead Agency under CEQA. As the Lead Agency, BOE has prepared the EIR in accordance with current City of Los Angeles Guidelines for Implementation of CEQA of 1970, Article I, and Section 15085 of CEQA Guidelines. The EIR addresses the proposed Project’s potential environmental impacts for the following resource areas:

  • Aesthetics and Visual Resources
  • Biological Resources
  • Energy
  • Geology & Soils
  • Hazards & Hazardous Materials
  • Land Use & Planning
  • Public Services
  • Transportation
  • Wildfire
  • Air Quality
  • Cultural and Tribal Resources
  • Urban Forestry Resources
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Hydrology & Water Quality
  • Noise
  • Recreation
  • Utilities
  • Cumulative Impacts

The EIR analyzes the environmental impacts of the proposed Project and alternatives.

L.A. Zoo Vision Plan: 2028 and Beyond and its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) FAQs

When and why did the Los Angeles Zoo create its Vision Plan?

In 2016, the Zoo initiated the Vision Plan development process to address much-needed improvements to the physical campus. The Vision Plan imagines a Zoo through which generations of people will make a positive difference for wildlife and their habitats. Knowing that the Zoo’s strength comes from the 2,300 animals in our care that demonstrate the variety of our planet’s species, including many at risk of extinction, our dynamic and talented staff, and visitors who represent all of Los Angeles, the Vision Plan creates opportunities for everyone to be a part of the Zoo’s mission to inspire appreciation for wildlife and conserve the world’s biodiversity. It also lays the groundwork for bringing much-needed upgrades to our campus which consists of mostly 1960s-era facilities. The Vision Plan process offered the opportunity to engage with Zoo stakeholders and the community to provide their voice in the process. A fundamental driver of the Vision Plan is to improve animal welfare and expand our conservation impact, while also ensuring a meaningful visitor experience that will result in a lifelong love of wildlife, and the intergenerational stewardship capacity necessary to ensure species survival in the face of climate change and unprecedented biodiversity loss. While the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the Vision Plan process, it is ongoing and the Zoo welcomes input.

Is the Vision Plan finalized?

The Vision Plan is not an exhibit design. It is important to note that the Vision Plan is a conceptual document and its implementation will be completed in phases depending on the availability of resources – likely over 20 years. For this reason, it must be understood as a living, evolving document that responds to changing needs and aspirations.

Is the Los Angeles Zoo trying to compete with Disneyland and Universal Studios?

No. Theme parks, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios, provide a valued entertainment experience for Angelenos; the L.A. Zoo’s mission is significantly different. The L.A. Zoo strives to provide its guests with a one-of-a-kind immersive experience focused on understanding global wildlife, developing an empathy for all species, and translating an in-person experience into an ethos and action that works to 1) conserve the health and proliferation of species in their natural habitats, and 2) end the threats to them – such as the illegal wildlife trade that thrives in our backyard via the ports and LAX.

Are the proposed Zoo upgrades aimed at attracting tourists during the 2028 Olympics?

No. The improvements envisioned in the Zoo’s Vision Plan are first and foremost to improve the welfare of the animals. It is also important to ensure an impactful experience for all of our guests, who are largely Angelenos – our neighbors and friends among the County’s ten million residents. A large international event, such as the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will be held in Los Angeles, merely offers an opportunity to magnify the L.A. Zoo’s work toward promoting the conservation of global wildlife and natural habitats while also doing a better job of underscoring the urgency of work needed in our own backyard – which the California exhibit and its focus on threatened and endangered species, such as the California grizzly and California condor, southern mountain yellow-legged frog, and Baja peninsular pronghorn, would accomplish. The L.A. Zoo’s mission has always been to conserve wildlife, connect people with nature, and serve our diverse community and it will not change because of the Olympics; the Vision Plan process began well before any determination was made about the 2028 Games.

Why would a Zoo, especially a City-operated zoo, need theme park attractions such as a rock climbing wall, vineyard, and aerial tramway?

The planned experiences proposed in the Vision Plan – a rock-climbing wall, vineyard, and aerial tramway – are mission-focused and deliver on our ideals and commitments to the public. It is important to note that all of these are concepts and do not represent the final design of the California Planning Area.

How will the Vision Plan actually help animal welfare?

The Vision Plan will not only increase the space dedicated to animals by 273% within the Zoo’s existing footprint, but will also result in state-of-the-art upgrades to those habitats and their background care facilities, including those that support enrichment and veterinary services.

$650 Million is a lot of money for the City of Los Angeles to spend on a zoo. How can the L.A. Zoo ask Angelenos to pay for this when homelessness and other issues are plaguing the City?

The L.A. Zoo has been operating with mostly 1960s-era facilities. The Vision Plan projects would be paid for by each phase. Funding is likely to be achieved through a combination of public funds and monies raised by GLAZA through donors and other philanthropic support.

Is the Zoo’s Vision Plan at odds with its recently released Conservation Strategic Plan?

Absolutely not. One of the greatest assets the Zoo has as a conservation organization is the ability to engage broad, diverse groups of people in large numbers. Some conservation organizations spend millions of dollars on mailers and social media outreach each year. We accomplish this by opening our gates for people to see and appreciate the diversity of animals here in our care. Our staff and volunteers directly engage hundreds of thousands of people each year in experiences developed by our experts to facilitate important and lasting connections with nature. As the human population continues to grow globally, and our collective negative impact on the world expands, we have to do whatever we can to connect people and wildlife under safe conditions and help develop empathy for the loss of biodiversity and the global crises we’re all facing due to climate change, the sixth mass extinction, and social inequities. This is a core part of the Zoo’s mission, and given the extreme and grave nature of our reality, it is absolutely essential that we reach more people, not fewer. We have to work together towards solutions on managing an increase in population and urbanization as natural spaces for wildlife dwindle.

Is the L.A. Zoo expanding into Griffith Park?

No. The Zoo’s Vision Plan does not include expansion beyond our 133-acre footprint. Any land development would occur in currently unused/undeveloped areas within the Zoo. The Zoo is proposing to expand animal habitats inside our Zoo footprint.

How can the Zoo destroy 23-acres of pristine native woodlands in a time where climate change is on all of our minds? That seems to be the opposite of what the Zoo stands for.

The Zoo will not be destroying habitat of any kind in Griffith Park. The 23 acres we have proposed to utilize is unused land inside our Zoo, which will increase the welfare of the animals in our collection and enable us to engage more people in conservation. The undeveloped areas inside the Zoo are not pristine native woodland habitats. In addition, as previously stated, nothing in the Vision Plan has been designed yet and we intend to engage the community in that process.

Will the Zoo be removing protected vegetation in this Vision Plan?

No, not necessarily. As each phase of the Vision Plan is assessed, the EIR requires a survey by an independent biologist. The survey report requires avoidance, minimization, AND mitigation measures, including the protection and preservation of all on-site native vegetation and special status plants to the maximum extent feasible. IF protection and preservation is not feasible for some amount of the project area in this phase, the area of disturbed native vegetation and total lost special status plants will be mitigated either by a 2:1 ratio on-site at the Zoo or 3:1 ratio off-site in Griffith Park. WORST CASE SCENARIO – The Zoo will increase the number of individual species of special concern either inside the Zoo or in Griffith Park, which benefits our ecosystem.