Project 60 Removed from SPLOST 2020 at Last Minute

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As many of you may have heard, “Redo the Zoo”, Project 60, was removed at the very last minute by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) from the list of projects proposed to our mayor and commissioners for SPLOST 2020. We understand that the CAC had difficult decisions to make, but feel that as one of our commissioners stated in a recent meeting: “citizens don’t vote for SPLOST, they vote for projects”. At the discovery meeting last March, Project 60 was at the top of the list of most supported projects. It was only on the very last CAC meeting that this broadly supported project was dropped.

Back in 1984, The Athens Observer published a story about how the zoo was becoming worn and unkempt. (See image of article from Athens Observer below) It spurred some renovation, but the renovations that had been made have far outlasted their 30-year intended-use period. Unfortunately, infrastructure wears out. The zoo is again showing noticeable signs of wear. Bear Hollow is a cherished community asset. We would like you to look at the zoo now, and imagine what it would look like in ten years if we don’t drastically renovate this beloved amenity.

From Athens Observer, July 26, 1984.
  1. Please write your commissioner and the mayor and let them know you want to see Project 60 included in the final SPLOST 2020 package. 
  2. Then, email us to let us know you’ve done so at
    Don’t know who your commissioner is?
    Find out here:
    Mayor Contact info:
  3. Please attend the SPLOST public comment portion of the Commission meeting this June 18 at 6:00pm at the ACC Court House. Bring a small teddy bear or print out this letter-sized sheet and hold it up during the meeting when Friends of Bear Hollow approaches the Mayor and Commissioners for comment.

We hope we can count on your support for Project 60, Redo the Zoo!

Joan Sheldon

I have been volunteering at Bear Hollow Zoo since 2005, when my son and I started volunteering as a parent/child team. We spent 9 years in that role, mostly doing weekly reptile care, until he went to college and I stepped back to working special events. I will always be grateful to Bear Hollow for giving us that opportunity, as it gave us a special activity to work on together and gave him a sense of responsibility and community involvement that I know will stay with him throughout his life. Through our volunteer activities, he discovered his love of amphibians and I discovered my own love of tortoises! I am proud to serve Bear Hollow again as Treasurer of the Friends of Bear Hollow.

In my professional life, I am a marine scientist, and my hobbies include weaving and crochet.

Cindy Jerrell

I have loved Athens since the first day I visited, over 30 years ago. I knew I would spend the rest of my life in this amazing little town that has so many treasures. Bear Hollow Zoo is one of the best treasures of all, a shaded oasis of calm and beauty where we can learn about our neighbors, Georgia’s native wildlife. I began volunteering as a zoo docent, and was later hired as an Exhibit Renovater. I am now an Animal Trainer and  Enrichment Maker. I am (of course) in love with every animal we have and want to do the best I can to give them a happy, healthy life, as well as promote public education so that we can live in harmony with their wild cousins.