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Zoo Atlanta Trumpets $4M Raised for Elephants, Events Expansion

By Rachel Davis
More than a month in advance of a crucial June deadline, Zoo Atlanta announces that a gift of $2 million from the Thalia N. Carlos & Chris M. Carlos Foundation has closed the gap in the final lap of the “Grand New View” campaign. The gift, one of the largest from an individual donor in Zoo Atlanta history, will enable the Zoo to claim the entire match of a $20 million challenge grant from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation for a campaign total of $41 million. The announcement comes only 18 months after the official campaign launch and is presented against an original fundraising goal of $38.1 million.
“We’re thrilled to announce that we have not only met, but exceeded, our goal, ahead of schedule and ahead of expectations. We’re deeply grateful to Chris Carlos for his role in the homestretch of this campaign,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “Over a very aggressive 18-month timeline, the campaign has been defined by the leadership of our community, from the announcement of our “Grand New View” Honorary Co-Chairs, Mayor Kasim Reed and Arthur Blank, and our stellar campaign cabinet, to the extraordinary generosity of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation’s challenge grant, to the ensuing support of our city’s greatest philanthropic leaders. We can now announce that this project will be a reality, and the best thing about the finish line is the future.”
The gift from the Thalia N. Carlos & Chris M. Carlos Foundation is the 12th gift of $1 million or more made to the campaign since the announcement of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation matching grant, which specified that Zoo Atlanta could claim 1:1 matches on all campaign gifts made by June 30, 2016. The Zoo’s fundraising goal was increased to $40 million to ensure that full advantage was taken of the matching grant.
A marquee feature of the special event center planned for the Cyclorama building, the ballroom, will be named the Thalia and Michael C. Carlos Ballroom in honor of the parents of Chris Carlos, a longtime personal supporter of Zoo Atlanta who is to be recognized as the 2016 Philanthropist of the Year at National Philanthropy Day this fall.
Other new gifts include $1 million from The Home Depot Foundation and $1 million from The UPS Foundation. Nine additional major gifts include $3 million from an anonymous donor, joined by $1 million each from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; Delta Air Lines through the Delta Air Lines Foundation; The Gary W. Rollins Foundation; Georgia Power Foundation; The Kendeda Fund; The Marcus Foundation; longtime Zoo supporters David and Cecelia Ratcliffe; and The Zeist Foundation. Gifts continue to arrive from other friends of the Zoo dedicated to supporting the transformation of Zoo Atlanta and will enable the Zoo to further realize the potential introduced by this historic opportunity.
The success of “Grand New View” comes on the immediate heels of the campaign to build the landmark Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, opened in 2015, for a total of $63 million raised for Zoo Atlanta over the past five years – more philanthropic support than had been raised in the entire 25 years prior that Zoo Atlanta had been a privatized entity.
Now in design development and expected to break ground in early 2017, the “Grand New View” project will enable an unprecedented expansion of Zoo Atlanta made possible by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s 2014 announcement that the Zoo would become the new steward of the Cyclorama building and its adjacent property. The historic building will be revitalized and reborn as a one-of-a-kind event destination overlooking a new African savanna, where the Zoo’s African elephants and giraffes will roam a new and significantly expanded habitat. Other transformations will include a grand entry plaza from Cherokee Avenue following the demolition of the Zoo’s present Administration Building. The City of Atlanta has agreed to fund a parking and mobility solution to address the current and future needs for transportation and access to Grant Park.
Project completion is expected in early 2019. View updates and a conceptual video at

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