Zoo has elephant-sized plans, thanks to $50M gift

Harry and Linda Fath

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden recently announced an historic gift that will allow it to embark on a bold campaign to ensure its future.

Local philanthropists, Harry and Linda Fath have stepped up with a gift of $50 million that gets the zoo one third of the way to its goal of raising $150 million for its “More Home to Roam” capital campaign by 2025.

“The zoo is one of the jewels of our city, so we decided the Cincinnati Zoo has to be one of our transformative gifts,” said Harry Fath.

The improvements will help maximize the visitor experience and provide better care and well-being for the animals. The jewel of the campaign will be an elephant habitat, nearly five times the size of the current yards, for the zoo’s giants.

“We are grateful that Harry and Linda recognize and support our efforts to make a difference and inspire visitors with wildlife. Their gift allows us to move forward with plans to improve and expand the zoo for future generations,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard.

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Plans, which will be completed in phases, include:

Roo Valley – expected to open in 2020: Wildlife Canyon will be transformed to include a two-level activity course. Beneath the trees, guests will enjoy the 15,000-square-foot grassy walkabout with kangaroos and wallabies mere feet away. The penguins will also get a new home complete with underwater viewing.

Beer Garden – expected to open in 2020: A new multi-tiered seating area will be added behind the Watering Hole food and beer station.

Entry Village – expected to open in 2020: Twelve new ticket windows and additional queuing space will streamline entry into the zoo, along with amenities such as more family style restrooms and more storage space.

Safe and efficient visitor access – expected to open in 2023: An 1,800-car parking garage will provide safe visitor access and alleviate parking and traffic issues.

Rhino Reserve – expected to open in 2023: The Rhino Reserve will be redesigned to include multiple outdoor yards.  

Elephant Trek – expected to open in 2025: The new, next generation habitat will be nearly five times the size of their current yards and will feature naturalistic trees, mud wallows, grasses, pools and streams.

Cincinnati Zoo is also planning improvements to other existing habitats and is on track to be “net zero energy, water and waste” by 2025.

The zoo is asking for donations to achieve its vision. Every dollar donated will be matched by the Faths, as part of their $50 million gift.

Information: cincinnatizoo.org/more-home-to-roam

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