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Zoo Atlanta Receives Major Gift from Woodruff Foundation

By Keisha Hines
Zoo Atlanta has been awarded a $20 million grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in a dramatic show of support for an unprecedented expansion of Atlanta’s oldest cultural destination. The grant will match other gifts for the project on a 1:1 basis up to and including a commitment of $20 million.
The campaign, entitled “A Grand New View for Zoo Atlanta: Elephants, Events & Expansion,” will facilitate the transformation of the 1921 Cyclorama building, entrusted to the Zoo’s stewardship by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in July 2014, and the property immediately surrounding the historic structure. Both Mayor Reed and Arthur M. Blank, chairman of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, have agreed to serve as Honorary Chairs of the campaign.
“On behalf of the entire Zoo Atlanta family, we couldn’t be more thrilled by this wonderful news. We’re honored and proud that our friends at the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation have deemed our organization worthy of such a substantial contribution to a truly defining moment in our history,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “This is a gift that’s much more than purely monetary. It’s a very energizing and exciting demonstration of support and faith in the Zoo’s success, stability, and future.”
Plans for the Cyclorama property include a world-class special events venue featuring intimate views of African elephants roaming the Zoo’s African savanna, which will be expanded to more than six acres as part of the project. Other proposed improvements include a grand entry plaza on Cherokee Avenue. In a continuation of one of the city’s most successful public/private partnerships, the city of Atlanta has agreed to fund a significant parking solution arising from the Zoo’s current and future success and is consistently on track for a fourth consecutive year.
The campaign is the second major capital campaign undertaken at Zoo Atlanta in recent years. The first, the campaign to fund “Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience,” set to open in spring 2015, formed the largest fundraising effort in Zoo Atlanta history. That campaign raised more than $23 million, with $18 million funding the new complex and the remaining $5 million benefitting the Zoo’s Annual Fund and Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund.
Recent successes over the past four years include a 30 percent increase in the Zoo’s annual attendance, which is expected to top 900,000 by year-end. Other accomplishments include a complete elimination of all debt; Zoo Atlanta has also reported an operating surplus for the past three years and is on track for a fourth consecutive year.
Founded in 1889 with the purchase of a bankrupt traveling circus, Zoo Atlanta celebrates its 125th anniversary in 2014. Viewed as one of the finest zoological parks in the U.S., the Zoo is a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), with a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family fun. The Zoo is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs, and special events run year-round. For more information, visit or call 404.624.WILD.

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