Phoenix Zoo reaches goal for new projects - News, Weather & Sports

Phoenix Zoo reaches goal for new projects

Kitambi & Cookie, the zoo's African lions. (Source: Julie Olmstead & Phoenix Zoo) Kitambi & Cookie, the zoo's African lions. (Source: Julie Olmstead & Phoenix Zoo)

The Phoenix Zoo has met its goal of raising $22.5 million to fund several projects toward creating what it calls a "World Class Zoo for a World Class City."

The zoo's initial goal for the first phase of its capital campaign when it began in 2008 was $20 million, but it was revised as project costs rose.

The zoo has built or is building three major state-of-the-art animal exhibits, a multi-purpose education and event center, a new front entry and a new volunteer and administration facility.

It also funded a maintenance endowment to offset additional operational expenses from the new facilities.

Officials said the upgrades were necessary to ensure the zoo remains on the leading edge of wildlife conservation and education.

The zoo said generous contributors through the years include school children who donated jars of pennies on field trips to their biggest benefactors who gave bountiful gifts.

The final contributions that allowed the zoo to reach its goal were a $500,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and a significant estate gift from Bobbie Dapeer, a 30-year member of the zoo and cherished volunteer.

Some of the phase one  projects include:

-Land of the Dragons opened in late 2009. It features a tropical-themed environment and views of the planet's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon.  Cost: $1,170,872.

- The Orang-Hutan: "People of the Forest" exhibit opened in early 2011. It showcases the intelligence and charisma of the Bornean orangutan, an amazing and endangered species. Cost: $4,018,033.

- The C.W. & Modene Neely Education and Event Center opened in June 2012. It provides educational, entertainment and event capabilities previously unavailable at the Zoo. Cost: $2,972,691.

- A new Entry Oasis opened in late 2012. It provides an inspirational welcome with a stroll across a renovated bridge, glimpses of resident turtles and waterfowl and a native species exhibit featuring vultures and tortoises. Cost: $3,775,895.

- The Doornbos Volunteer and Administrative Center. It will provide centralized office space for the zoo's staff and volunteer workforce. The center will showcase the zoo's commitment to conservation and green practices. This will break ground in January 2014. Cost: $6,200,000.

- The Sumatran Tiger Experience and Exhibit will provide capacity for several Sumatran tigers, one of the most rare and endangered of the five remaining tiger subspecies. Fewer than 500 survive in the wild. This will break ground in April 2014. Cost: $2,000,000.

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