The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has indefinitely delayed one of its planned region-themed exhibits.

The Andean Foothills, one of several projects proposed under the zoo's 15-year master plan in 2010, has been removed from the zoo's plans, at least for the immediate future. The project has not, however, been scrapped forever.

"We decided to defer the project to the next master plan," said Dennis Pate, the zoo's CEO and executive director.

The decision to delay the project happened months ago, Pate said, but the zoo just recently removed the project from the master plan on its website. Utility costs, which rose to $9 million, were the deciding factor.

According to the zoo's master plan, the Andean Foothills would have included South American predators such as bears, jaguars, pumas and wolves, plus birds, primates, hooved mammals and reptiles. There would have been a themed village with restrooms, food and gifts.

The project would have been built in the zoo's far northwest corner in an undeveloped area north of the existing African penguin exhibit.

Andean Foothills carried a budgeted cost of $14 million, but Pate said he found out later that the zoo would have had to pay to re-do the sewers that ran underneath the property into an adjacent neighborhood, plus the zoo would have had to run new electrical lines to that area. When the bill was tallied, it no longer made sense to go forth with construction, given all of the zoo's other proposed projects.

"Something had to give," Pate said.

Pate said the zoo may add something else to the master plan in its place.

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