Monarto Zoo's Wild Africa expansion to begin with new visitor information centre | VIDEO

Monarto Zoo's Wild Africa expansion is about to begin with the construction of a new, $16.8 million visitor centre.

The building will include a cafe, nature play space, gift shop and visitor information, and potentially a restaurant or function space.

It will be located near the zoo's northern boundary, off Monarto Road.

When finished, Zoos SA estimated it would employ 89 people and contribute $6.3 million to South Australia's economy each year.

The building works are expected to create another 136 temporary jobs.

The federal government will put $11.25 million of taxpayers' money towards the project, while the state government has promised $4.55 million.

Zoos SA chief executive Elaine Bensted said the investment would help grow the tourism industry and the state economy while catering to visitors' needs.

"Monarto Zoo has become an increasingly popular tourist attraction and has well outgrown the existing visitor centre facilities," she said.

"The current visitor facilities were built in 1997 and are struggling to cope with the rapid growth in visitation we've experienced in the past five years."

Visitor numbers at the zoo have increased by 20 per cent in each of the past five years, boosted by attractions including the Lions 360 feeding experience.

"The new visitor centre will allow us to cater to the growing expectations of domestic and international visitors ... and will help cement Monarto Zoo's reputation as a must-visit nature and wildlife destination," Ms Bensted said.

She also anticipated it would become known as an iconic piece of South Australian architecture, alongside the d'Arenberg Cube at McLaren Vale.

Federal MP Tony Pasin said he had advocated for taxpayers' investment in the zoo because he understood the flow-on effects its success had for the rest of the Murraylands.

The Wild Africa project, envisioned in Zoos SA's 2015 master plan, will eventually incorporate a safari resort, luxury camping and other experiences.

A private developer is poised to invest $35 million in accommodation once the visitor centre is underway, according to state MP Adrian Pederick.

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