Gazelles and African springbok will run free at a former Enumclaw dairy farm under a plan unanimously approved by the Metropolitan King County Council.
The proposal, submitted by the Woodland Park Zoo, will allow prime farmland to be used as a breeding facility for threatened and endangered zoo animals.
It passed Monday after several weeks of debate over whether zoo breeding was appropriate in a county farm zone.
Zoo officials expect it will be two years before breeding operations begin at the 120-acre, $700,000 facility, which will house mostly hoofed animals and birds.
Despite a unanimous vote, some council members were concerned that the approval would threaten areas already set aside as farmlands.
Councilwoman Cynthia Sullivan reminded the group that the county had already paid $443,000 to permanently keep the Enumclaw land agricultural.
Councilman Larry Phillips proposed an ordinance that would prohibit public agencies from buying additional protected farmlands.
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