Bill Would Allow Alcohol at Zoos

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Knoxville (WVLT) - Alcohol and the zoo, two things many feel don't belong together in such a family oriented atmosphere.

But for special events, such as fundraising, zoos in Tennessee do serve alcohol, despite a costly process to make that possible.

Now, a Senate bill could make it cheaper for the Nashville and Knoxville zoos to serve alcohol when searching for loose purse strings.

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt talked with families here in Knoxville about what they think.

Every other week Summer Varner and her two young children come to the Knoxville Zoo. "We're just seeing all the animals, there's a white alligator here today so we're checking him out."

And Summer likes the fact it's an alcohol free environment for her family. "I think the zoo is a family oriented place and where kids come and if you wanna drink alcohol, go somewhere else."

Twice a year, for special events, the Knoxville Zoo does serve alcohol.

"They're programs that are for adults and there ones we've had for years and years, and our guests have wanted that to be the case," says Jim Vlna, Director at the Knoxville Zoo.

The Nashville Zoo says they pay almost $1200 in alcohol permits every year for private events. Money zoo officials would rather spend on facility and animal resident upkeep.

If a bill passes in the State Senate Thursday, they could save by paying an annual fee discounted by as much as a thousand dollars.

Knoxville Zoo Director Jim Vlna says this could also happen here. "There's a possibility that we may be able to not have to apply for a state permit for selling alcoholic beverages at our special events."

The zoo says they do receive requests to serve alcohol on the grounds, but for now concession stands will remain alcohol free, but what about the future?

"If at some point in time we would decided that may be a good thing, and our board and the people of Knoxville, then we might do it, but right now there's no intention to do that," Vlna says.

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