Voters in Jackson and Clay counties last week easily approved a one-eighth cent sales tax to raise new revenue for the 100-year-old Kansas City Zoo.

The vote allows a special taxing district to be established. The tax takes effect Jan. 1 and is expected to raise $14.2 million annually. Residents of the two counties will receive discounted admission.

Supporters promoted the measure as necessary to free the zoo of its reliance on local government funding.

A new commission will be established to oversee use of the funds. The zoo currently operates on an $11.6 million annual budget.

The new funds pave the way for the zoo to speed up work on long-planned capital projects that include constructing a new outdoor orangutan jungle, a canyon for the zoo’s big cats, and a giraffe feeding station, according to local published reports.

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