Andrew Erkenbrecher Society

In honor of the Zoo’s founder, the Andrew Erkenbrecher Society was created to recognize our dedicated and visionary donors who give $1,000 or more annually to support the mission of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. This distinguished membership includes all the benefits of a Platinum level membership plus exclusive benefits.

We invite you to join the Andrew Erkenbrecher Society today!


Donor Club Benefits Include:

AES Curator: $1000 - $2499

  • Family membership, including:
    • Unlimited free entry for two names adults and children in the same household or grandchildren under 18 (limit 8)
    • FREE parking for one vehicle per adult, per day
    • Unlimited rides on the Zoo Train and Carousel
    • Early entry to the Zoo (mid March through October)
    • Free or discounted admission to over 100 other zoos and aquariums
    • Two half-price guests each visit
    • Discounts on Zoo education classes, camps and lectures
    • Eight guests per visit (named cardholder must accompany all guests)
  • Invitation to Springtime VIP event
  • Monthly Behind the Scenes (BTS) drawing: Opt in for a chance to win a BTS with an Animal Curator
  • Invitation to the Donor Festival of Lights Preview Night
  • Invitation to at least two Donor Club appreciation events per year
  • Invitation to new habitat openings
  • Recognition in the Zoo’s Annual Report
  • Subscription to the Zoo’s Donor Magazine (during active membership cycle)
  • Tax deduction according to IRS regulations

AES Explorer: $2500 - $4999

All benefits of an AES Curator, plus:

  • One complimentary private VIP tour for up to four people*

AES Director: $5000 - $9999

All benefits of an AES Explorer, plus:

Invitation to a special event with Zoo Director, Thane Maynard

AES President: $10,000+

All benefits of an AES Director, plus:

Exclusive adventure with Zoo Director, Thane Maynard

Donor Club level memberships are valid for two adults and children 18 and under at one household. Grandchildren 18 and under may also be included.

Join the Andrew Erkenbrecher Society

Keeper Circle

Explore the Keeper Circle, a unique opportunity to support your Zoo with an annual charitable gift between $500 and $999 and enjoy exclusive benefits! Maintain all the benefits of a Platinum level membership plus exclusive benefits. Become a Keeper Circle Donor Club member today!


Donor Club Benefits:
  • Family membership, including:
    • Unlimited free entry for two names adults and children in the same household or grandchildren under 18 (limit 8)
    • FREE parking for one vehicle per adult, per day
    • Unlimited rides on the Zoo Train and Carousel
    • Early entry to the Zoo (mid March through October)
    • Free or discounted admission to over 100 other zoos and aquariums
    • Two half-price guests each visit
    • Discounts on Zoo education classes, camps and lectures
    • Six guests per visit (named cardholder must accompany all guests)
  • Monthly Behind the Scenes (BTS) drawing: Opt in for a chance to win a BTS with an Animal Curator
  • Invitation to the Donor Festival of Lights Preview Night
  • Invitation to at least two Donor Club appreciation events per year
  • Invitation to new habitat openings
  • Recognition in the Zoo’s Annual Report
  • Tax deduction according to IRS regulations
Join Keeper Circle

1875 Founders Circle

more home to roamIn 2025, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden turns 150 years old! As we look to the future, we’re excited for our next chapter, More Home to Roam. A bold and achievable $150 million campaign that will dramatically enhance animal habitats at our Zoo and greatly improve the visitor experience. More Home to Roam will inspire guests for generations to come, all while providing better homes for our animals and a better Zoo for our community.

Our newest donor club, 1875 Founders Circle celebrates the year the Cincinnati Zoo joined our community and those that have led the way since our gates opened.

By making a gift of $1875 for three years, you will be in on the ground floor of our most monumental, innovative and future-focused capital expansion to date. With your support we can do even more to care for our animals and inspire future generations to take positive action for the world around us.

By joining, you will be among the first to know of new developments and understand fully the impact of our region’s top-rated family attraction and community cornerstone. Those engaged in the 1875 Founders Circle will feel as though they are part of the most exciting and meaningful project in our Zoo’s history!

Join the 1875 Founders Circle

What's New

Zoofari

On September 25, 2020, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden hosted its first-ever virtual event. Virtual Zoofari, co-hosted by Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard and Local 12 personality Bob Herzog, featured animals, celebrities, and truly unique silent auction items.

Zoofari has been a tradition in the tri-state for almost 40 years and is the Zoo’s most crucial annual fundraiser.  The Zoo could not afford to cancel the event, especially after being closed for three months earlier this year, so organizers and chairs, Michelle and Peter Barrett, got creative and put together a virtual celebration that exceeded hopes and expectations!

Cincinnati’s premier party for a purpose usually brings 2,000 philanthropic guests to the Zoo for a themed evening of fun, food and frivolity.  Delivering the event virtually, free of charge, allowed an unlimited number of people to attend! More than 26,000 viewed Virtual Zoofari and contributed to the $650,000+ that was raised.

“Big thanks to all of our event sponsors, especially presenting sponsor Western & Southern Financial Group/Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc., for adapting and supporting a different kind of Zoofari,” said Maynard.  “We hope to be able to welcome guests back to the Zoo for Zoofari 2021 and are thrilled that Michelle and Peter Barrett are returning to chair the event.”


A New Vision for Elephants Takes Shape

It is true that COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the Cincinnati Zoo’s culture and economy, but it has also created an opportunity to keep the momentum going on our transformational capital campaign, More Home to Roam. Having completed the first two phases – Visitor Entry and Roo Valley – we are reordering the timeline and moving forward immediately with the campaign’s capstone project – Elephant Trek.

Elephant Trek will be five times the size of our existing elephant habitat and will allow us to “grow” our herd through a long-term breeding program. We will eventually have a multi-generational herd of 8-10 elephants, with bonds as strong as those formed in the wild. By giving our herd more, and more complex, room to roam, we will create the best elephant habitat in the U.S. – giving them space to forage, play and breed. With the new timeline, we anticipate this spectacular habitat will be open in 2024.

Click here to go on a virtual walk of Elephant Trek.


The CARES Act and How It Can Work for You

We wanted to share some information about the new CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act and the financial benefits it can provide to you. This new law is designed to help you, businesses, and nonprofits facing economic hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This new law allows all taxpayers to take a charitable deduction of up to $300, even if you do not itemize. For those who do itemize their deductions, the CARES Act allows for cash contributions to qualified charities – such as ours – to be deducted up to 100% of your adjusted gross income for the 2020 calendar year.

Please know, no gift is too small and your help is needed now more than ever. Your support means the world.

If you are considering a gift to the Zoo’s Annual Campaign, please click here for more details.

We cannot thank you enough for standing by us throughout these difficult times. This year, to say thank you for going above and beyond and supporting your Zoo, we are giving away 10 thank you baskets to our donors. Anyone who gives a year-end gift of any amount will be entered into the drawing. The Winners will be chosen on December 11, 2020. For official rules and regulations, please click here. 

Thank you for supporting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. For questions, contact the Development Department at (513) 559-7716.

Home Safaris are a wild success

Home Safaris are a wild success

It has long been said that the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a local zoo with a global impact. For decades, this has been true because of the key role we play in field conservation projects around the world. But recently, this phrase has taken on new meaning with the far-reaching success of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safari series. Every day, people from all around the world log on to meet a creature, partake in a fun activity, and most importantly, to learn about wildlife.

The Home Safari was born in response to the Zoo’s temporary closure due to Covid-19.  Knowing that so many are isolating, yet looking for an opportunity to interact with nature, the Zoo team leveraged our social media to create a solution to this need.

Every day, one of our dedicated zookeepers introduces an animal for viewers to learn about. The series has featured favorites including Fiona, our famous hippo, and Kris the young cheetah cub, as well as new favorites like Rico the porcupine or Isla the tamandua. Each episode is paired with an educational activity for children to try at home.

Since the first show aired on March 16th, the Facebook Home Safari series has grown immensely and had incredible success. Viewers have reached out from every state in the U.S., and internationally from Spain, Australia, China, the Philippines and South Africa. In the 12 hours after the announcement of the first Home Safari episode, the Cincinnati Zoo gained over 400,000 new followers on Facebook, and over a million new followers since the series launch. Viewers have also used this as an opportunity to give back to the Zoo during this difficult time by contributing to the Zoo’s Emergency Operating Fund.

The Home Safari series has become a daily escape for millions of families all over the world. And even though life looks different now, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has remained just as committed to our mission – inspiring visitors with wildlife every day.

Looking to catch up on past episodes? All Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari videos can be found on our website. Click here for episodes and more information.

The Fight in Fiona is in All of Us

She’s had her own reality show. Been featured on the Today Show and the Tonight Show, in National Geographic and the New York Times. It seems everyone is a Fiona fan – she’s the world’s most famous and yeah, we’ll say it, cutest hippo.

New York Times called her “the symbol of resiliency and positivity.” Born six weeks premature, and smaller than any other hippo ever to survive, Cincinnati Zoo staff fought tirelessly through setback after setback to not only keep her alive, but to help her thrive.

And while Fiona’s story is the most widely known example of our animal care staff’s passion and dedication, another epic story is currently being written.

Through these unprecedented times, our staff has shown up day after day to make sure each of our animals is receiving the best quality care. We do this because we know that creating a better home for wildlife means creating a better home for people. Zoo Director Thane Maynard has said, “Some people believe conservation efforts are too little, too late, and that endangered species can’t be saved. Our message about our work with wildlife is a hopeful one.”

Behind each of our keepers and every dedicated Cincinnati Zoo staff member is the support from a local and global community. Thank you for being a part of this fight, and remember, the fight in Fiona lives on through everyone involved in this cause, fighting for a better world for wildlife.

What’s in store for Donor Clubs this year

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden does not yet have a date set for our reopening. A multi-departmental Zoo t is diligently working with the Governor’s office to create a plan that ensures the safety of our animals, staff, and all visitors that come to enjoy the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Our planning team is working through a multitude of details of this multi-phased approach to reopening. We look forward to sharing the details of this once the plan is approved and we will be sure to share how this pertains to Donor Club members and your guests.

The Care and Feeding of Young Minds

Kids have a natural curiosity about animals and there’s no better place to nourish their sense of wonder about wildlife than the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Even during our temporary closure, the Zoo continues to be a place – albeit virtual – that exposes young people to a wide variety of different species – furry or finned, funny or fierce. These encounters can inspire a lifelong passion for conservation or even a lifelong career. We’ve seen it in the past as busloads of students excitedly march through the gates to see beloved animals up-close. And we’re seeing it now, as thousands of eager learners tune in each day from home to receive their daily dose of wildlife education. Even now – especially now – while Zoo’s around the world are forced to close their doors for the time being, the Cincinnati Zoo has found other ways of staying dedicated to the care and feeding of young minds.

With 83% of Americans living in urban and suburban areas, kids are less connected to nature than ever before. The only opportunity many children have to really learn about and get close to nature is at zoos. And while these are uncertain times, this is precisely why the Cincinnati Zoo remains committed to being a home for wildlife education, not just now, but well into the future.

As you may know, the Zoo launched our most forward-focused capital campaign, More Home to Roam¸ in the summer of 2018 with the goal of dramatically transforming our habitats and expanding community and conservation efforts here and around the world. Education has been a key pillar of the Cincinnati Zoo for more than 50 years. And that emphasis is woven into the vision of the More Home to Roam campaign. The path to developing lifelong love and respect for nature begins with teaching kids about the delicate balance between animal species – and their habitats – and human behavior. Zoo programs connect and inspire learners – from toddlers to teens to grad students – with a variety of wildlife. Through experiences crafted by professional Zoo educators, Education Department programs help to turn kids into conservationists.

“More Home to Roam will build better homes for the animals in our care, but the planned transformation goes way beyond bricks and mortar,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “It’s equally about building an environment that will provide opportunities to bring visitors and students close enough to care.”

What’s New with Donor Clubs

What’s New with Donor Clubs
We’ve learned so much from you!

This summer we invited you – our Donor Club members – to attend a couple different sessions to share your thoughts on being part of our Donor Clubs. These facilitated sessions guided participants through sharing what they like, don’t like, where they thought we could do better and create innovative ideas on how we could tap into donors’ passion and pride as members of the Zoo family. The goal was to gather input and create a dialogue that informed the Development team so we can keep growing!

Expand to read more

What Did We Learn

The three common themes that seemed to bubble up at every session were:

  • Visibility: You feel that we need to make it easier to find and donate to our Donor Clubs!
  • Pride/Ownership: As a Donor Club member, you realize that you are part of an influential group that helps move our Zoo forward. We need to find more ways for you to be an ambassador of the Zoo.
  • Communication: You believe that communication with our Donor Club members is key! We need to provide more stories about the impact your dollars are having so that you can continue to share the good work of your Zoo.
What have we done already?

Based on what we heard from you, we have adapted the following:

  • Visibility IMPROVED: We updated the membership website to make it easier to find and sign up for Donor Clubs (see for yourself by clicking here)
  • Pride/Ownership IMPROVED: We increased the number of guests per visit from four to six guests for our Keeper Circle Donor Club. This change will help differentiate Keeper Circle from the Platinum Level Membership. Andrew Erkenbrecher Society (AES) members will continue to be able to bring eight guests per visit. This began in January and will be updated as you renew your membership in 2020.
  • Communication IMPROVED: We are committed to reducing the print version of the 2019-2020 Annual Report by six pages, shifting gifts of $500-$999 to an online donor listing versus print version.
What else are we going to do?

We want to continue to improve our Donor Clubs in order to give you the best experience possible. Over the next year, we will:

  • Create donor-specific volunteer opportunities
  • Create a Donor Summit – a new donor event in which donors will be invited to hear exclusive updates directly from Zoo team members and provide an opportunity to share feedback on Zoo initiatives
  • Launch a quarterly e-newsletter for donors containing updates on animals, CREW, donor and staff profiles, and more!
  • Offer a more compelling invitation for donors to level-up at the time of renewal
  • Begin a referral program
  • Create more opportunities to communicate with those in the Platinum Level of Zoo membership so that they may be inspired to become donors!

As you can see, we are deeply committed to improving your donor experience. We hope attendees at the sessions would agree that they were incredibly productive and eye-opening! I welcome any additional ideas or thoughts you may have.

Our hope is that as a Keeper Circle or AES Donor Club member, you will create opportunities to share your passion for the Zoo and extend invitations to others to visit and experience this place you are so committed and connected to. As we enter 2020 together, we will provide more and expanded tools to help you share your pride in our Zoo with others, building upon your investment through visibility, pride/ownership and communication.

Thank you for your incredible friendship and support and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me any time with feedback or questions!

Thank you for your incredible friendship and support and please don’t hesitate to reach out to me any time with feedback or questions!

Donor Highlights

Donor Highlight: Donna & Tom Farrell

“Thane has a cage at the Zoo for me!” Tom Farrell (a trained ventriloquist!)  quipped when sharing how at home he feels at his favorite Cincinnati landmark.

Futures Society members, Donna and Tom Farrell have a storied affection for and connection with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden dating back to Donna’s childhood when she and her sisters would visit with their mother. In 1968, when Donna became a teacher, she proudly purchased her own membership.

Inspired by her love of the Zoo, Donna began a teaching tradition with her second-grade classes. At Christmas, the children would investigate animals and pick one to adopt and then in May, they would take a field trip to visit the adopted animal. “It was always one of the highlights of the school year.”

When Donna and Tom married in 1975, they bought a membership together. Since then, they have not missed a single year of membership!

“Visits to the Zoo are so worthwhile – so relaxing! And you have the nicest, happiest staff who keep the Zoo so clean and welcoming.”  They reminisce about a day when they saw Thane bend down to pick up a cigarette butt.   “Thane’s passion for the Zoo is so infectious. He is the best thing to happen to the Zoo!”

The Farrell’s were hard-pressed to pick a favorite memory but shared that Festival of Lights is a favorite Cincinnati holiday tradition. “We come early, around 3:00 and sit and drink hot chocolate and watch the Zoo light up.” Donna mused.

They praised the Zoo for the evolving change from animals behind bars to more expansive areas for the animals and look forward to seeing the new habitats for penguins and elephants. But for now, the Red Pandas are their favorite animal and the first habitat they visit each time they come to the Zoo.

Donna speaks of the circle of life of their connection to the Zoo….coming with her mother, then with her classes, then with Tom, then with their children and grandchildren…and when they were grown, they completed that circle by bringing her mother who could no longer come by herself.

While we can’t accommodate that cage for Tom, we will be forever be grateful that the Farrell’s feel at home at the Zoo and have “made us family” by including the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in their estate plans.

And just like that circle of life, the Farrell’s legacy gift commitment helps to ensure that future generations continue to be inspired by wildlife!

We are deeply grateful to the Farrells for their friendship and enduring support.

Mara Strock

Donor Highlight: Mara Strock

As a resident in the Washington DC area, Mara Strock serves as a volunteer prepping food for the animals in the commissary each week at The Smithsonian’s Washington National Zoo.  When the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden became home to John the lion in May 2013, Mara followed him here to ensure that he was settled and happy.   Fortunately for us, Mara’s love knows no bounds and her care for John has grown to other animals and countless humans in the years since then.

“I watched John grow up at The National Zoo with his brothers and sisters. When he moved, I wanted to see him in Cincinnati. I have always been very attached to John and I’ve fallen in love with Imani and their three girls. I became very close with the Africa team and as I got to know more people I fell in love with the whole zoo.”

Mara’s heart and generosity are limitless. She makes a point of traveling to visit a few times per year to check in on John, Hokies the Fennec Fox (another recruit from National Zoo) and many other beloved animals. She shares, “there’s just something about the Cincinnati Zoo…. everyone makes you feel so welcome.   It’s beautifully laid out and it draws people in.    It has a special feeling to it.”

While reminiscing, Mara recalls so many highlights – seeing Blakeley getting his walks around the zoo; watching Eunice work with Thatcher, Magnolia and Cinder – her beloved three pigs; enjoying camaraderie during Member’s Munchie gatherings; witnessing the incredible rapport between keepers and animals throughout all the habitats; following the birth and growth of tigers and so many other Zoo babies; and interacting with team members spanning from education to the security team – all of whom offer such good spirits and kindness at every turn according to Mara.

“Everyone works so well as a team…everyone seems so happy!”

With consideration of time, talent, treasure and testimony, Mara is one who seems to give in all arenas. Her generosity pours forth from her investment of time to travel to visit the Cincinnati Zoo, her willingness to share hand crafted items to be sold as a fundraiser through Zooster’s Christmas Shop, donations to the Zoo’s annual Toy Drive through the Gift Shop to benefit local school children, her ability to support keepers and animals through donations during the year, and her amazing ability to share pictures, videos and stories that tell the tale of all that is happening here at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her passion is palpable, and her love of the Zoo is contagious!

When asked what she would say to someone regarding being a donor, Mara shared, “It doesn’t matter what amount you give, it all helps the Zoo. Whether it’s five, ten or twenty dollars – it all adds up! And it makes you feel good that you did something to help the animals.  Be a member of the Zoo!!   Attend all they have to offer. Go see Eunice’s Barnyard Show, the Bird Show, the Cheetah Encounter and of course – the famous Fiona! The Zoo has such amazing programs and opportunities for everyone! Allow your family to learn from this place and enjoy every season. Every bit helps keep this important place going.”

Mara goes on to say, “I want to thank everyone at The Cincinnati Zoo for making me always feel welcome, treated as if I am a member of the family and appreciated for everything I do for both the zoo and the animals.”

On behalf of the entire Zoo team, thank you for your generous spirit Mara! Thank you for being an important member of our donor family. We are better because of you.

Staff Highlights

Staff Highlight: Meet the faces behind the Home Safari Camera

Over the course of the last several weeks, you have had the opportunity to meet and get to know some of our dedicated animal keepers. Now, we would like to introduce you to the people behind the camera that bring you the Home Safari videos and exciting animal content each day.

First up is Marketing Manager at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Amy LaBarbara. Amy has been with the Zoo for 20 years and helps to both produce and distribute the amazing animal content we all have come to know and love across the Zoo’s social media channels. Alongside Amy is Angela Hatke, the Digital Engagement & Publicity Manager for the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Angela has been with the Zoo for five years and has one of the most envied positions at the Zoo. You may have seen Angela on a morning news segment along with a Cincinnati Zoo animal ambassador and its keeper. The third member of this terrific trio is the Cincinnati Zoo’s Communications Director, Michelle Curley. Michelle has been with the Cincinnati Zoo for 10 years and has played a massive role in all of the Zoo’s communication efforts, from social media to press releases, coordinating with local and national media outlets, and much more.

By this point, hopefully everyone has had the opportunity to watch your favorite animal be featured on an episode of the Zoo’s Home Safari series. This idea came about at the start of the Covid-19 crisis before the Zoo closed. As schools were beginning to close and move to online learning, the Marketing team worked to create a plan that would bring the Zoo to kids at home. “Right away, we knew we wanted it to be educational and interactive,” said LaBarbara. Because Zoo Education programs were closed as well, the Marketing team was able to partner with the Education team to create the fun and interactive activities that go along with each Home Safari episode. Working with the Zoo’s Education Professionals such as Carmen Nemore, the idea came together to not just bring the Zoo to you, but to continue the learning experience in a fun and interactive way so the lessons could further resonate within those who participate. It’s no surprise that the Home Safari series has been a huge success. And so much of that success is due to the hard work and dedication of these three women. “It’s been really fun,” Hatke said. “I love filming them. I love seeing the animals. And I love seeing all the people that send in art and positive comments.”

The Cincinnati Zoo Home Safari series has had a media reach of over 3 billion, with viewers reaching out from every state in the US, and internationally as well. When asked if they were surprised by this result, Curley responded, “I think we’ve been overwhelmed in a good way. For us, it’s given us something to really channel our energy into while the Zoo is closed and still feel like you’re providing something of value to our visitors. And like Angela said, they’re fun to do.”

This marketing team – including Amy, Angela, and Michelle– has seen its share of intense moments throughout the years. But it is these challenging moments that have brought the team together and made them such a strong unit. In discussing how this crisis has affected them as a team, Curley proudly said “we are at our best when we are in these situations. It brings us closer to each other. We work as a team better than ever.”

Krista Powers

Staff Highlight: Krista Powers

The most delightful mail arrived from my mom last week. In addition to messages of thanks for Christmas treasures, she included six or seven gems she had unearthed while going through piles – notes I had written to her and dad as a young child and a couple of papers I had written for class assignments. One paper went into great detail telling the tale of summer visits to Florida to visit grandparents and the moment one early dawn that I fell in love with manatees. I vividly recall sitting on the end of that dock waiting…hoping…praying with every ounce of my 11-year-old humanity that I would see a manatee. When it happened, I was forever changed and forever enthralled with the beloved sea cows!

For years, I thought I would become a marine biologist. Since I didn’t actually want to pursue all that science education, I pursued my love for manatees in more recreational ways over time. As a young person, I adopted manatees being rehabilitated in Florida each year, had a special behind the scenes encounter at the Zoo and even pursued a life dream of swimming with the manatees in Crystal River. Little did I realize this was all foreshadowing…

As a social worker by trade, I never knew my path would lead to the development team of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. What I did know quickly in life is that I wanted to make as big an impact on the world as possible. After graduating from Xavier University, I ventured out west to Alaska and Portland, Oregon for a year each. As I put my degree into practice, I quickly realized it would be important to pursue graduate school and shift into community change. So, I ventured back to the Midwest, attended a graduate program at the University of Michigan (I grew up outside of Toledo – which has an exceptional Zoo if you’ve not visited), and then landed back in Greater Cincinnati, making Northern Kentucky my home for the past 17 years. My career tenure includes United Way of Greater Cincinnati, The Matthew Kelly Foundation/Dynamic Catholic Institute and the Alzheimer’s Association. Each of these fine organizations taught me the landscape of what is one of the most generous communities around – chock full of passionate people and organizations that set the bar of excellence.

In 2019 I found myself at a fork in the road – ready for a shift. As I thought about where I would want to land next, the two places that seemed to encompass the culture and excellence I was craving were either the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden or Xavier University. After months of conversations, I was elated to pursue a part-time adjunct position at Xavier (Gerontological Social Work) and a full-time role at the Zoo.

It has been a year since joining the Zoo’s team and I can say without a doubt, this is the highest energy, forward-focused, impactful work I have ever had the honor to participate in. As I reflect on why this is such an impressive organization, I boil it down to two reasons: our donors and our team. While I could write pages worth of why our donors are so extraordinary, I’ll simply say that you captivate my heart with your curiosity as well as knowledge, your generosity and the ripple effect created as you share stories and invite others to come and experience the Zoo. Each and every donor plays a vital role in the story of our Zoo – a vibrant story that spans the generations.

In a similar way, the Zoo team is a pack of passionate people who believe in education, conservation, sustainability, botanical beauty, and animal excellence. The degree of commitment poured into tending to the Zoo is immeasurable and we look forward to highlighting various members of the team in upcoming quarterly e-newsletters. I’d like to close by introducing you to my closest colleagues – the Development Team. This is a dynamic team of folks who understand the confidence you place in us is accompanied with great responsibility. It is our honor and privilege to be entrusted with that responsibility and we are committed to ensuring your dollars continue to fuel the momentum that has made this a world-class Zoo. We are happy to be available to you! Please feel free to pop into Treetops to say hello the next time you’re visiting the Zoo!

2020 Development Roster

Net Zero 2025

Net Zero Energy

It’s about time for some good news on the energy front! And it should be no surprise that the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden – the Greenest Zoo in the Nation – is leading the way. Your Zoo will be net-zero energy by 2025.” These are the confident words of the Cincinnati Zoo’s own Vice President of Facilities, Planning & Sustainability, Mark Fisher. Lately, you may have been hearing a lot about net-zero energy. But what does it mean? Why does it matter? And most importantly, what does it have to do with you? Put plainly, by 2025, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will produce more energy than it will use. In a time where so much focus is being put on environmental issues and creative solutions, the Cincinnati Zoo is stepping up to the challenge to be the world’s first zoo to achieve Net Zero energy.

How do we plan to achieve this? First, let’s start with solar energy. Did you know that your Zoo already has the largest publicly accessible urban solar array anywhere in the country? But we’re not stopping there. The Zoo has made significant progress on building solar arrays at our offsite facility, Bowyer farm, with a goal of having these off-site arrays fully functional by the end of this year. This new installment will be approximately 20 times larger than the current solar array in the Zoo’s main parking lot. Each of these solar arrays convert sunlight into usable clean energy to help power the Zoo.

In addition to this, the Zoo has hired a talented Sustainability Manager who will be involved in all aspects of the Net Zero initiative. Think of her as the resident “energy engineer” of your Zoo. This role will serve to fill a huge piece of the puzzle as we continue to drive down our overall energy usage.

As Mark Fisher says, “your Zoo will be net zero energy by 2025 and that means everyone wins – nature, wildlife, and people as well. The most important, and impactful, step we can take in lowering our footprint on this earth is to dramatically reduce our use of natural resources in our own backyard.”

It is important to note that it is through the dedication and unending support of donors and financial supporters like you that we are able to make this dream of net-zero energy happen. Thank you for your support and thank you for being a part of this important work.

Want to know more? Mark Fisher was highlighted in a recent edition of the Donor Magazine. Click here to read more.

2020 Summer Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2020 Summer Donor Magazine.

2020 Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2020 Donor Magazine.

2019 Annual Report

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2019 Annual Report.

2019 Fall Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2019 Fall Donor Magazine.

2019 Spring Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2019 Spring Donor Magazine.

2018 More Home to Roam Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2018 More Home to Roam Donor Magazine.

2018 Spring Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2018 Spring Donor Magazine.

2017 Fall Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2017 Fall Donor Magazine.

2017 Donor Magazine

Click here, or the image above, to read the 2017 Donor Magazine.

New Donor Club Event

Join us for the Donor Summit!

We are excited to invite you to a brand new event this year, exclusively for Donor Club members! You will have the opportunity to learn insider information and hear about your dollars at work. Join us as we take a closer look at some of the elements that make your Zoo the best Zoo in the nation!

This event will be jam-packed with exciting updates and passionate speakers to give you a deeper look into all of the different areas of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Hear from Mark Fisher on how your Zoo is leading the way in sustainability efforts or David Orban on how the Cincinnati Zoo uses science to enhance the lives and wellbeing of our animals. Did you know your Zoo is home to a four year college preparatory program? Hear from Melinda Voss about the Zoo’s amazing Education programs. In total, the Donor Summit will feature speakers discussing the following topics: Sustainability, Horticulture, Education, Access for All, CREW, and Animal Excellence.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear how your support is helping to change the world. Formal invitations and RSVP information will be sent out to Donor Club members prior to the event. We hope to see you there!

Stay Informed

Every issue of our quarterly donor e-newsletter contains new stories of changed lives, offers key ways to get involved, and keeps you up-to-date with the latest news and events. By subscribing to our donor e-newsletter, you are joining an essential community of supporters in Cincinnati who are making an important difference in conservation.


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