This conceptual rendering shows the San Antonio's Zoo's plans for a "Riverwalk" exhibit.
This artistic rendering shows the San Antonio's Zoo's plans for a "Riverwalk" exhibit. Credit: Courtesy / San Antonio Zoo

The Denominator is a weekly brief of significant numbers underlying our latest news stories.

Creature Comforts: New Zoo for a New Generation

27 is how many new animals were born or introduced at the San Antonio Zoo last year, including psychedelic rock geckos and a giant anteater.

The 104-year-old San Antonio Zoo is working toward a plan to expand its facilities in a new $200 million master plan that will guide the zoo’s next 20 years of development, including expanding the zoo beyond its quarry walls, building more naturalistic habitats, new exhibitions, and creating a safari-like experience for visitors.

The zoo currently receives $306,000 a year from hotel occupancy tax revenues for use in marketing and advertising, compared to $10 million in annual municipal funds that the City of Houston contributes to the Houston Zoo, and the $14 million raised annually by the City of Dallas for the Dallas Zoo.

Last year, more than 1.1 million people visited San Antonio’s zoo, generating an economic impact of $108.6 million to the city.

No More Fleas at the Federal Courthouse

$117.4 million is the amount awarded by the U.S. General Services Administration for the design and construction of a new federal courthouse at Santa Rosa Avenue and Nueva Street on Wednesday.

The current court house has documented flea, asbestos, and mold problems alongside structural damage and water quality issues. It no longer meets federal security standards. The new courthouse, around 230,000 square feet, will be planned to meet the security, accessibility, and operational needs of the courts.

The federal agency expects construction to begin next spring.

Reclaiming Time: Council Passes Paid Sick Leave

30 hours is how long employees now have to work to earn an hour of paid sick time in San Antonio, according to a new ordinance passed by City Council Thursday.

In May, Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, a coalition of advocacy groups, submitted more than 140,000 petition signatures, making the proposal eligible for the November municipal ballot. Council, however, voted to approve the ordinance with a 9-2 vote.

But the ordinance may be in conflict with state law. The State of Texas still has to determine whether municipalities can legally implement a local standard for coordinating and allocating sick leave, according to Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

Businesses with more than five employees must comply by Aug. 1, 2019; those with less have until August 2021. The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Historic Illumination at Mission Continues to Light the Way

287 is the number of years San Antonio residents have flocked to Mission Concepción to view an annual solar double illumination, when a setting sun casts two beams of light through glass openings onto a sacred painting hanging above the altar and down through the transept onto the church floor.

The annual illumination occurred again on Aug. 15 and attracted the faithful and curious alike. Residents who have never witnessed a solar double illumination can mark their calendars for Aug. 15, 2019 and pray for clear skies.

Emily Royall is the Rivard Report's former data director.