Bill proposed to allow alcohol sales at Memphis Zoo

Bill proposed to allow alcohol sales at Memphis Zoo

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Starting next summer, you might be able to buy beer or wine at the Memphis Zoo if legislation passes allowing alcohol sales during regular hours.

As of right now, the Memphis Zoo only sells alcohol at nightly events.

Leaders say selling alcohol during regular operating hours could be beneficial to the Zoo in more ways than one.

"We want to make this the best zoo in the world,” said Nick Harmeier, Memphis Zoo chief marketing officer.

Nick Harmeier says selling alcohol at the Memphis Zoo could help make it an even better attraction.

"You could take that money and put it towards improving your exhibits and other things throughout the zoo,” said Harmeier.

Harmeier says not only could it mean more money for the zoo, but it could also add to a visitor’s experience.

He says they've been in touch with the Saint Louis Zoo, which has been selling alcohol for many of years.

"We're going to serve it responsibly just like the FedEx Forum, Red Birds Stadium and movie theaters. We have security here. We have zookeepers here,” said Harmeier.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Brian Kelsey, would allow alcohol and beer to be sold at the Memphis Zoo during regular operating hours.

Current law restricts beer sales to only fundraising and special events with a permit.

"We've got a world class zoo in Memphis that we're very proud of and if this could allow them to have some more money to update their exhibits than I think that's going to be a great thing for everyone,” said Kelsey.

Last year, legislation was approved to allow the sale of alcoholic drinks at Zoo Knoxville. A spokesperson with the zoo said they're in the process of finalizing their policy and securing proper permits and licensing. They anticipate sales to begin in 2020.

Back at the Memphis Zoo, some visitors say the selling of alcohol could go either way.

"If they drink their alcohol outrageously and they get crazy than it could be dangerous. If not, it could be a good thing like if you take somebody here on a date and you have just a drink,” said Blake Mire, visitor.

The General Assembly will convene in mid-January where they're expected to discuss this bill.

Zoo leaders say they’re still working out specifics, but the alcohol could be sold at a beer garden or concession stands.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.