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 virtual Keeper Circle Keeper Chats
  • Invitation to attend Summer After Hours tours
  • Invitation to the PNC Festival of Lights Donor Preview Night
  • Invitation to a minimum of two donor appreciation events per year
  • Invitation to new habitat openings
  • Recognition in the Zoo’s Annual Report
  • Tax deduction according to IRS regulations

Donors at $2500+ will receive additional benefits at the discretion of the Development team

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)
  • Invitation to virtual Keeper Circle Keeper Chats
  • Invitation to the PNC Festival of Lights Donor Preview Night
  • Invitation to a minimum of two donor 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

You’re invited to join the 1875 Founders Circle as we celebrate our 150th Anniversary in 2025. Since 1875, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has been saving species and creating lifelong memories . . . and by working together, we can build a new future.

With three ways to commit, you become part of our most 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.

Join the 1875 Founders Circle

NEW! Exclusive Bourbon – Available ONLY to 1875 Founders Circle Members

A different customized vintage will be produced each of the next 3 years leading up to the 150th anniversary of the Zoo and the completion of the Elephant Trek project. Less than 250 bottles will be produced each year and sold for $49.95 per bottle. This 1875 single barrel will only be available to:

  • 1875 Founders Circle Members (Tier 1)
  • Raffle winners from 1875 Founders Circle (Tier 2 & 3)

What's New

One-Of-A-Kind Outdoor Learning Center in Avondale

Newly opened in Avondale is a remarkable outdoor classroom at Rockdale Academy! This one-acre Urban Learning Garden, designed by the Zoo’s expert horticulture staff, features an amphitheater, greenhouse, vegetable, fruit, herb & pollinator gardens, and Quonset huts for plant propagation and storage. It also includes a sensory garden, which is handicap accessible and designed specifically for autistic youth. It is a living classroom that will nourish, educate, and inspire students at Rockdale through horticulture, science, and the outdoors. Click here to see a video of an overhead view of this exciting new garden!

The garden will benefit 350 PreK-6 students and 60 staff from Rockdale Academy, where 100% of the students attending receive free lunches. Avondale is also considered a food desert, lacking access to healthy produce. In addition to the learning that will happen in the garden, the students and their families will now have access to the fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown there.

Being a good neighbor is important to our Zoo, and the Rockdale Garden is a chance to use Zoo expertise and resources in horticulture, education, volunteers, and sustainability to address barriers that limit students and families. By providing garden maintenance, plant nursery management, and education programs that align with Cincinnati Public Schools standards and objectives, we will ensure the long-term viability of the program and its impacts. “We, along with Rockdale Academy staff and the Avondale Community Council, are fully committed to using our networks and creative resources to ensure that this learning landscape lasts and is sustainable,” said Thane Maynard, Zoo Director.

This project was made possible through collaboration with Cincinnati Public Schools, P&G, Reds Community Fund, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. To learn more about this exciting development at Rockdale Academy, check out the Connecting with Neighbors tab on our community page.

Special Tribute in the Sloth Habitat

Excitement grew in the community after initially learning that Cincinnati Zoo’s sloth, Lightning, was pregnant, including with the Nicholson family. They started a petition to name the baby Oliver after their son, who passed away earlier this year. “Oliver and his twin, Atticus, were born on October 11, 2019, seven weeks premature,” said Alex Nicholson, Oliver’s father. “Oliver was diagnosed with VACTERL association and was in and out of Cincinnati Children’s during his short life. We gave him a stuffed sloth during one of his hospital stays which he adored and slept with every night.”

Months of anticipation and excitement surrounding the birth of what would have been Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s first sloth baby ended in early October, when Lightning delivered a stillborn pup. Vets and care staff were present for the hours-long labor and were devastated by the outcome. Sadly, the Zoo never got to discuss names for the baby sloth, but instead worked with the Nicholson family to find a fitting tribute.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden will memorialize Oliver Nicholson, who would have been two years old in October, by renaming its sloth habitat “The Oliver Nicholson Memorial Sloth Habitat”. To read more on this story, click here.

Happenings in Hippo Cove

There’s a new hippo in town! Tucker, an 18-year-old male Nile hippo, came to the Zoo from San Francisco in September! The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Hippo Species Survival Plan recommended that Tucker move to Cincinnati to be Bibi’s companion and to enjoy being part of a hippo pod.

Over 65 people were involved in the logistics of his transport to keep the transition smooth and to keep Tucker calm and well fed on his journey. To read more about Tucker’s journey to Cincinnati, click here.

Once at the Zoo, the keepers moved slowly at first to acclimate Tucker with Bibi and Fiona. They let them become familiar with Tucker by seeing, smelling, hearing, and observing him. However, the hippos all showed interest in each other very quickly, so the keepers followed their lead and had all three of them together in the outdoor habitat sooner than they had expected. Now, there is a happy hippo pod of three thriving in Hippo Cove!

Donors like you make it possible for us to continue to bring animals, like Tucker, to our Zoo and provide incredible habitats and the highest level of care for them. To support Tucker, and our animal care teams, donations can be made HERE.

Elephant Trek Update

Elephant Trek – the project to transform the Cincinnati Zoo Safari Parking Lot into a pachyderm paradise – is continuing its progress. If you have driven along Forest Ave recently, you can see work being done to install a retaining wall to secure the 8-acre site!

Once the project is completed, the Zoo will invest in a long-term breeding program to contribute to the survival of Asian elephants, an endangered species, working closely with other zoos and species survival groups. We envision a multi-generational

herd with strong bonds, as elephants would form in the wild. In support of that vision, we will deepen our commitment to enrichment activities that mimic and encourage natural elephant behavior. Elephants will spend most of their day foraging and interacting with one another in an environment that allows “elephants to be elephants” through bathing, playing, dusting and other social behaviors, while all the time providing the elephants free choice to roam about wherever they please. The habitat design will be driven by the elephant’s natural ecology, biology and behavior.

Elephant Trek is the largest habitat project in our Zoo’s history, with anticipated completion in 2024. For more exciting details, please visit:

Looking for more ways to support our More Home to Roam Campaign?

Rookwood Pottery is offering beautiful elephant ornaments with 20% of the proceeds going toward More Home to Roam.

Donate through this year’s Cincinnati Gives Campaign, between November 29 and December 9, where all donations to the Zoo will be put toward More Home to Roam.

Donor Highlight: Emily and Mark Frolick

“I have been infatuated with cheetahs since I was a child. Go figure that we would move to Cincinnati. It is the “Cheetah Capital” of the world according to Thane Maynard, the Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden,” said Mark Frolick.

Emily and Mark’s passion for cheetahs has steered them to become integral donors to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Cat Ambassador Program (CAP). Thanks to their support, the Zoo recently made some much-needed improvements to the CAP habitat. These improvements included constructing a new walkway behind the CAP building, purchasing a new lure machine that is essential to the Cheetah Encounter, installing new shift doors between the small animal holdings, and upgrading a boiler to allow the building temperature to remain consistently warm through the colder winter months. These types of upgrades are essential to keeping both our cats and staff safe and comfortable.

“These cats are as beautiful as they are fast. They are truly amazing. While they are endangered, the population seems to be stabilizing. This is due to wonderful cheetah conservation programs around the globe,” said Mark, who is also an avid photographer of these great cats. The Cincinnati Zoo is one of nine institutions globally that participate in a Cheetah Species Survival Plan, with the goal of creating a sustainable cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal.

While the Zoo can’t thank Emily and Mark enough for their ongoing support of these beautiful animals, Mark says, “I can’t thank the Cat Ambassador Program at the Cincinnati Zoo enough. It is through their generosity that I have been able to get to know these amazing cats. The Cincinnati Zoo has the premier cheetah program in the country! Cheetahs are my passion! Honestly, I still get excited every time I see a cheetah!”

Zoofari Twenty Twenty One-derland

Without question, Zoofari Twenty Twenty One-derland at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, held on Friday, September 24, was a WONDERFUL success! More than 1,800 guests attended this enchanting and sold-out event, raising over $1,000,000 in revenues to support the Zoo’s mission of inspiring everyone with wildlife, every day!

It was a Zoofari like none before as we moved to a new “through the Zoo” format, making way for Elephant Trek, the signature project in the Zoo’s More Home to Roam campaign. Special thanks go to returning presenting sponsors Western & Southern and Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc and event chairs, Michelle and Peter Barrett.

Mark your calendars now for next year’s Zoofari – Friday, September 23, 2022!

Hangin' with Henry

Hangin’ with Henry

It’s been a busy year for Henry the Orangutan. From learning how to participate in getting his blood pressure taken to making new friends, Hendry has had an extra fun summer.

The Cincinnati Zoo partnered with students from the University of Cincinnati to use 3D printing technology to create a blood pressure cuff for great apes. The Cincinnati Zoo team then worked with Henry to make him comfortable with the new equipment as well as the process. The team worked with Henry to train the behavior so that Henry eventually had the opportunity to actively participate in his own healthcare. Since cardiac diseases are the number one health issue in older great apes in human care, it’s crucial to proactively monitor heart health. Click here to read more about this amazing work.

With a healthy heart and high spirits, Henry later welcomed a new friend – Lance. Lance is a 28 year-old male Mueller’s gibbon. His female companion, Emily, passed away due to old age and declining health earlier this year. Lance has been living at the Jungle Trails east building but has recently moved into a new outdoor space with Henry. They’ve been doing well together, hanging out all day, and visitors can expect to see Lance with Henry every other day as he rotates with the other gibbon species. To learn more about this fun friendship, click here.

Thermal Imaging!

Things are heating up at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW). In collaboration with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), CREW is working to validate the use of remote infrared thermography (IRT) to determine baseline health.

“We are using thermal imaging to collect body temperature and heart/respiration rates on a variety of animals, including birds, reptiles, and mammals,” said Dr. Erin Curry, reproductive physiologist at CREW. “At the same time, we are using traditional methods to obtain vital signs and comparing the results.”

“Projects like this reinforce the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s reputation as a global leader in innovative conservation research,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard. “I hope this technology will eventually be used to improve the health of animal populations all over the world, in zoos and in the wild!”

For a video and more information on this amazing technology, click here.

Zoo Update: Big changes happening on grounds!

Elephant Trek – the project to transform the Cincinnati Zoo Safari Parking Lot into a pachyderm paradise – is officially underway. And crews are hard at work to bring this beautiful new space to life.

In June, members of the Zoo community gathered in the Zoo’s Safari Parking Lot to celebrate the beginning of construction on Elephant Trek. With heavy equipment and crews in the background, Harry Fath, Francie Hiltz, and Thane Maynard welcomed donors, government officials, and friends of the Zoo to the future home of elephants in Cincinnati. The project has begun with installation of a retaining wall to secure the 8-acre site along Forest Avenue – an improvement that will also better provide walkways for our Avondale neighbors.

Work on other components of Elephant Trek will begin later this year, including construction of the new Picnic Shelter Complex and installation of a 1-million-gallon stormwater catchment system.

Elephant Trek is the largest habitat project in our Zoo’s history, with anticipated completion in 2024. For more exciting details, please visit:

Donor Highlight: Brittany Garera-Stapleton

“My family is where my heart is and my family’s heart is here.” The Zoo has always been a big part of Brittany Garera-Stapleton’s life. She remembers trips to the Zoo as a kid and at 13, she would save her money and buy tickets for herself. Recently, Brittany started a new role at the Cincinnati Zoo as an employee, but she’s worn many other Zoo hats along the way.

The Stapleton family has been AES Donors for several years. Brittany explains that the Zoo has been a part of their marriage from the beginning when her husband, Aaron, proposed to her at a Toast to the Wild event. “It was a natural progression from the very first Zoo event when we got engaged to becoming a donor,” she explains.

Brittany recently started a new role at the Cincinnati Zoo as the Volunteer Relations coordinator. Prior to this role, she also volunteered with the Zoo enrichment team for over three years where she got to help create fun enrichment items for animal birthdays, HallZOOween and so much more.

Now, Brittany looks forward to being a part of the Zoo community both as an employee and also as a donor. “I’m grateful that it’s a place we can donate to and also enjoy,” she said. Her two daughters are also big fans of the Zoo, from Zoo camps to events, interacting with Zoo teens and more. The Stapleton family is already looking forward to Festival of Lights Donor Preview night and having the park to themselves to stroll and see all of the beautiful light displays.

“What we’ve been able to receive from being a donor – whether it’s the relationships we’ve made or the opportunities – it’s just been wonderful,” said Brittany. “Seeing everything through my kids’ eyes and the opportunities my kids have had has been such a special gift.”

Staff Highlight: Lily Maynard

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is so fortunate and excited to welcome Lily Maynard as the Director of Global Conservation. Lily has had an impressive career and brings with her a wealth of incredible knowledge and experience.

As you may imagine, Lily had many wonderful experiences with the Cincinnati Zoo growing up. As the daughter to Thane Maynard, Lily describes her childhood full of cherished moments getting up close with animals. It was these experiences that influenced her to want to work in wildlife conservation to help save species.

She went on to study biology and received graduate degrees from the University of Florida. After graduation, Lily moved to Kenya where she lived and worked for a couple of years with the Maasai community. Lily’s job was to track lions at night and then to talk with the community during the day about ways to reduce conflict between humans and animals.

“It really was a turning point for me,” said Lily. “Conservation is an active verb. It’s an active choice by people every day. And I learned that from the Maasai experts who live with wildlife.” She explained the excitement of having the opportunity to take this knowledge and bringing it back to Cincinnati to apply what has been learned by these experts and using it in our own backyards.

And that is what Lily has come to the Cincinnati Zoo to do – to enhance and grow our relationships and global partnerships to further our conservation efforts. Currently, there are over a dozen projects with involvement from people across the Zoo. Some you may have heard about, like the partnership to support gorilla conservation work in the Congo. Others, you may be hearing more about in the future. But that is what Lily will help to do – to connect the dots and get to know what the needs of these conservation partners so that we at the Cincinnati Zoo can mobilize as many people as possible to promote conservation, both here in Greater Cincinnati and around the world.

Wondering how you can get involved? Lily has said that the first thing you can do is to think about how you can create space for wildlife in your own home, whether it be in your backyard, on your front doorstep, or even a windowsill. “Conservation is needed for everyone and it’s not just for those who have extensive landscapes and yards and properties,” she explained. Check out the Plant for Pollinators page for all the information you need on how to get started.

You can also get involved with global conservation right from your phone, laptop, or home computer. Snapshot Safari is a fun way is a fun way to help global conservation organizations identify wildlife and help scientists understand the diversity and dynamics of wildlife populations across Africa – and it feels like a game!

All of this work – whether here or abroad – is crucial to the conservation of wildlife. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has always been committed to global conservation, but with the addition of Lily Maynard to the team, the efforts are going to stretch much further than ever before. Please know that your donor dollars are making real, tangible impact in our backyard and across the world. By supporting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, you are supporting global wildlife conservation.

Putting the FUN in Fundraising

Supporting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden can be fun for all ages! Shoutout to Elise Goebel and her friend Annabelle Huttenbauer for getting creative with their fundraising. The friends held a bake sale and lemonade stand to raise funds for More Home to Roam.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to our favorite Zoo moms!

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and who better to celebrate with than the “moms” at the Cincinnati Zoo! Our Zoo is home to many of your favorites like Bibi the hippo (mother to Fiona), Seyia the rhino (mother to Ajani Joe) and many more! This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating all of the Zoo moms who have helped to contribute to their species survival and also helped to spread education about the importance of wildlife.

Not only that, but we’re also celebrating expecting mothers, like Lightning the sloth! Zoo babies is this month and we cannot wait to welcome new members to the Zoo family all over the Zoo. Be sure to keep an eye out for penguin chicks, a baby bonobo, a baby wallaby, and our newest arrival, Ori the owl.

Along with adorable baby animals, the Zoo is in full bloom. You can stroll through the gardens with a curated playlist on your next Zoo visit. Looking for a full list of Zoo babies? Click here for a comprehensive list and where to find Zoo babies on your next Zoo trip.

Big changes mean big fun at Zoo events this year!

We are so happy to welcome you back for in-person events at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden! After a year of waiting, we’re back with events that are sure to be wilder than ever.

Zoo La La – June 25th

Zoo La La is back as one of the hottest events of the summer season. You’ll get up-close animal encounters, food sampling, live entertainment and more, all while supporting the Zoo’s education initiatives. NEW THIS YEAR – kick off the Zoo La La fun early with our friends at The Rhined. We’re bringing the Zoo fun straight to you with a virtual wine tasting and cheese class, led by experts from The Rhined. For more information on this and all Zoo La La details, click here.

Toast to the Wild Series

Toast to the Wild series events are back! This series brings you up close and personal with Zoo friends while sipping on your favorite beverages. Toast to the Wild includes favorites such as Wild about Wine, Zoo Brew, and new this year – Bourbon Flights. Tickets have sold out record fast, but there’s still time to purchase your Zoo Brew tickets.  Click here for tickets and more information on Zoo Brew.

Zoofari – September 24th

Zoofari is back like you’ve never seen it before! Cincinnati’s see-and-be-seen event of the season, Zoofari 2021, will return in-person on September 24th, led by returning chairs Michelle and Peter Barrett. NEW THIS YEAR – Zoofari Through the Zoo! That’s right – we’re taking the party out of the tent and into the Zoo. This mad tea party will spread throughout the full Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden as we celebrate under the stars. Expect your usual favorite dinner-by-the-bite samples from local restaurants, creative coctails and entertainment while wandering through themed sections of the Zoo. You don’t want to mis the party of the year in the most unique space in the city! For more information about Zoofari 2021 Through the Zoo, click here.

For more information on these and all other upcoming event at the Zoo, please click here.

Meet the Manatees!

Zoo babies aren’t the only new additions to the Zoo family. Meet Alby, Manhattan, and SwimShady – the newest residents to Otto M. Budig Manatee Springs.

In late-March of this year, three young manatees arrived at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Otto M. Budig Family Foundation Manatee Springs building where they will be rehabilitated until they are ready to return to their native Florida waters. This unique program works in collaboration with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife service and their manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP).

Among the three are: Alby, a male manatee rescued from Halifax River in Volusia County, Florida; Manhattan, a male manatee rescued as an orphan from St. Augustine Beach in St. Johns County, Florida; and finally, SwimShady, who was rescued as an orphan from Berkley Canal in Brevard County, Florida and who was named by the Cincinnati Zoo’s own Manatee care team.

The Cincinnati Zoo is proud to partner with the US Fish and Wildlife Service with this fantastic rehabilitation program where we have rehabbed and cared for 23 manatees over the past two decades. Please know that your support allows us to be able to continue this work and to be a leader in conservation of the Florida Manatees

Donor Highlight: Meet Stella

We are so fortunate to have donors and Zoo supporters from all over, each with their own story to tell about what the Zoo means to them and why they choose to support our Zoo. Today, we are happy to share Stella’s story with you.

Stella is a fantastic example that no matter how old you are, you’re never too young to make a difference. Stella has been a Zoo supporter for a long time and has used her time and resources to raise money for the Zoo on multiple occasions. She’s also raised awareness for conservation and the importance of the scientific research work done at CREW.

Late last year, Stella was assigned a project to research a famous person who lives in Ohio. Students were asked to create props and give a short speech as a part of their “wax museum” project. Because of her passion for wildlife and science, she chose to research Dr. Erin Curry of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s CREW team. Dressed in a lab coat, Cincinnati Zoo ID, test tubes and “CREW Research Notebook,” Stella educated her fellow classmates on the amazing conservation work happening in their own back yards.

But Stella didn’t stop there. After seeing the destruction of the tragic Australian wildfires, Stella was inspired to do more. She enlisted the help of her friend, Charlotte, to start a raffle with their class to help raise funds for the kangaroos at the Cincinnati Zoo. Together, Stella and Charlotte are working to make a difference in their community and inspire young generations with nature and wildlife.

Staff Highlight: Meet the Development Team

Each newsletter, we try to introduce you to a Zoo staff or team member. Some you may have met at the Zoo or seen on our social media, some may be brand new to the Zoo team. Today, we interviewed the Zoo’s Development Team to let you learn a little more about who we are.

Click here for the Development Team Roster

Kathy Chambers, Director of Foundation Relations

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: Little blue penguins
  • Fun fact: I’ve been a big Fiona fan since she was born, and the year before I started working at the Zoo, my husband bought me an original Linnea Head painting of Fiona for our anniversary.
  • How did you get into fundraising? My first job out of grad school was at Transylvania University doing alumni events.
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? I love being part of many incredible projects that are not only fascinating, but they
  • impact people, wildlife, and the planet.
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? I can’t wait for Zoofari!
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: Giving to the Zoo through private or corporate foundations.

Adrienne Cruise, Gifts and Donor Database Manager

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: It’s hard to pick just one, but the meerkats are at the top of my list.
  • Fun fact: Growing up in Clifton, I could hear the gibbons, sea lions, and the lions from my house.
  • How did you get into fundraising? I got a temporary job at the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation when I was between jobs. I loved being involved in fundraising and eventually was hired full time.
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? I’ve been coming to the Zoo since I was three years old. I grew up here. I was in the ZOT summer program, I had a membership even when I was childless and single. I love walking through the Zoo, seeing my favorite animals, Fiona, meerkats, eagles, painted dogs, vultures, etc. I also love seeing all the beautiful plants bloom. Pretty much everything about the Zoo is my favorite part.
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? I am so excited to see Elephant Trek come to life and try out the new Kanga Klimb.
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: Donations or gifts to the Zoo, I can answer all your questions! I process all the gifts and manage the donor database. I can help you with recurring gifts, tribute gifts, or anything gift related.

Reba George Dysart, Vice President of Development

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: Giraffe
  • Fun fact: I have three children age 6 and under, including a set of twins
  • How did you get into fundraising? I fell into fundraising. My background is in communications – public relations specifically. In 2001, I was laid off from my first job at a public relations agency and began volunteering in the nonprofit space. From there, I grew my grant writing and event planning skills and was in the right place at the right time to work in communications and fundraising for a charter school, foundation, hospital, and finally the Zoo!
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? The Zoo is a world-class institution with incredible biodiversity, but the people who work at the Zoo are what make it truly exceptional.
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? I’m looking forward to seeing many of our donors in person this year, after a year of no in-person events.
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: Wanting to make an impact for generations to come through investing in one of the city’s most trusted and incredible institutions.

Amy Fecker, Director of Annual Giving

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: Red Panda
  • Fun fact: I’m a mom of a 14 month old girl, Evelyn! She learned to roar like a lion before she could speak! She’s already an animal-lover (whether she likes it or not).
  • How did you get into fundraising? I did a fundraiser my senior year of college at Ohio State called Pancakes for Parkinson’s. We raised $43,000 for the Michael J Fox Foundation and I fell in love with the idea of being able to support causes I’m passionate about through fundraising! I’ve worked at organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the Museum Center before life finally took me to the Zoo!
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? As a lifelong visitor and lover of animals, I’ve wanted to work here since I can remember. So clearly being able to support the conservation efforts of our Zoo is a dream for me but being able to work with similarly minded folks who are just as passionate as I am and love what they do has become a very close second!
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? I’m looking forward to being able to see our donors in person! I’ve missed everyone and can’t wait to see them at Zoo La La, Toast events and Zoofari (THROUGH THE ZOO!) this year.
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: General Zoo donations, donations for CREW, Horticulture, Education, or a specific animal, the Andrew Erkenbrecher Society, Zoo La La, or the Ambassador Council!

David Plogmann, Director of Corporate Relations

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: Any type of primate and it changes from day to day. I’m going to go with Henry the Orangutan today!
  • Fun fact: I was “Mr. Lancer” at LaSalle High School football games when I was growing up on the West Side.
  • How did you get into fundraising? Leading the Prevent Blindness Ohio Golf Outing when I was working in Cleveland (set a record too, just saying…..)
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? Being able to work with such amazing donors, corporate partners, and Zoo staff for a world-class organization that is constantly doing AMAZING things!
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? Zoo La La, Zootanical and Zoofari in-person events! (I started in January 2020 and pretty much immediately kicked into pandemic mode – so while virtual and drive-through and to-go events were fun last year, it’s time to party in-person again!)
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: Anything! But especially about ways to connect businesses with the gigantic range of sponsorship and collaboration opportunities available here at the Zoo & Botanical Garden!

Mary Ann Remke, MBA, Director of Corporate Relations

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: Historically, lemurs because of memories with my children. Now, I love observing the spirited Meerkats, who always guarantee a smile!
  • Fun fact: At the end of a very lucky, “Warhol-ian 15 Minutes of Fame Day,” I had dinner with tennis great, Jimmy Connors!
  • How did you get into fundraising? Professionally, I have done everything from teaching, to being an architect student to working briefly at an accounting firm to consulting. Someone suggested that fundraising be a good fit with my skillset…and they were right! There is such joy in assisting someone connect the dots between their passion and their philanthropic giving.
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? There is something for everyone here at this oasis…animals, plants, community, sustainability AND I get to work with such passionate volunteers and a talented cadre of colleagues!
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? Finding a “new normal” IN PERSON!
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: Becoming engaged in our More Home to Roam campaign or learning more about leaving a legacy gift to our amazing Zoo!

Shannon Silk, Development Manager

  • What is your favorite Zoo animal: Elephants
  • Fun fact: I moved to Cincinnati shortly after college when I took a job working with a local nonprofit. My first break from unpacking my bags was a trip to the Zoo. I was struck by how beautiful the gardens were and how peaceful it was to be around the wildlife. I remember thinking to myself how nice it must be to work there, without even realizing that was an option for me. A few years later, an opportunity at the Zoo became available and I’ve been here ever since.
  • How did you get into fundraising? Somewhat by accident. While I was in college, I had accepted a summer internship working for a nonprofit women’s cooperative in Nicaragua. To be completely honest, I initially accepted the position because I had wanted to travel and the program sent students all over the world. Once I was there, I had the most amazing experience and was completely drawn to the mission-driven work. I’ve been hooked ever since.
  • What is your favorite part about working at the Zoo? The obvious answer seems to be the nature, beauty, and truly unique setting of the Cincinnati Zoo. But after five years, the most amazing part of working at the Zoo is the people. Being surrounded by passionate wildlife and nature enthusiasts is truly a gift.
  • What is one thing you are looking forward to at the Zoo this year? Being able to meet and interact with donors and Zoo supporters in person again.
  • Donors should contact me if they have questions about: Anything, really. If I don’t know the answer, I can probably find someone who does. Specifically, I manage the ADOPT an Animal program, Keeper Circle, and donor communications such as emails like this one.

Fiona Turns Four

Fiona Turns Four

The Cincinnati Zoo celebrated a milestone birthday this month and thousands of people across the country tuned in to share in the celebration as well. Many remember when Fiona the hippo was born prematurely with little chance of survival. The journey that followed struck the hearts of millions, and now, four years later, thousands watched as she celebrated with frozen fruit cake, tons of pictures, and one big Fiona-sized (virtual) birthday party!

The first-ever Float4Fiona fundraising event was a huge success. In lieu of birthday presents, Fiona fans purchased apples (donated by Simple Truth) to float through Hippo Cove in a race to win a Behind-the-Scenes experience. Race participants tuned in on Facebook Live to watch as the Hippo Cove pool slowly filled with thousands of apples and one of these lucky apples bobbed to the finish line. Despite the cold weather, Fiona also got to share in the fun from the comforts of her heated, indoor room. With more than 48,000 apples and 7,000 users who watched via live stream, the inaugural Float4Fiona raised nearly $200,000 to support the Zoo’s Emergency Operating Fund.

These funds are crucial to allowing us to continue providing world-class care to Fiona and all the animals at the Cincinnati Zoo. Thank you to everyone who participated in this event and to everyone who continues to support the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

Special thanks to others in the community that shared in the birthday fun, such as Graeter’s Ice Cream, Listermann Brewing Company, Rookwood Pottery, Cincy Shirts, Busken Bakery, Brazee Street Studio, Coffee Emporium and more!

Ps: We want to celebrate your birthday too! Email your birthday to [email protected] in order to be entered into a drawing and you could win a Fiona Kiss Print!

Brand New Zoo Tales

Can’t get enough Zoo stories? The Cincinnati Zoo has launched a brand new podcast aimed at bringing you interesting stories and interviews as well as tips on making the world a better place. In this series, you will get to explore all sorts of topics ranging from the animals that live at the Cincinnati Zoo, to the people who help the Zoo run, highlights of other nonprofits working to make a difference and more! Each episode will end with a small action you can do to make a difference.

Hosted by Cincinnati Zoo’s own Jenna (Senior Africa Keeper) and Sam (Coordinator of Wild Encounters and Fun), you will get to go behind-the-scenes at your favorite Zoo. Together, they will talk about kangaroos, sloth love stories, and of course, everyone’s favorite hippo, Fiona. They will also talk to people making a difference through education, pollinator habitat, recycling and more. Each episode will end with an answer to the question “what can I do to help?”

So, grab your headphones, speakers, or however you choose to listen and join us on a unique journey for difference-makers! Episodes will be released bi-weekly to cultivate a community of conservationists who can be a part of the solution, every day!

Click here to listen to Zoo Tales episodes!

Going Digital!

Memberships are now digital, too! Members can access their digital card anytime by phone or tablet via the Digital Memberships Portal. We are encouraging all our members to use the digital membership cards.

We hope to continue to upgrade and develop the digital cards.

How do I obtain my digital membership card?

  • Click on the Digital Membership Portal
  • Enter the primary members information
  • Click Login
  • You can bookmark this website on your phone or download your card in AppleWallet (or Android Compatible App for Android users)

Helpful Hint: If you need to make a reservation and don’t have your card handy, log in to the Digital Membership Portal and grab your member ID from there!

Enrichment and the Team Behind the Fun!

If you’ve been to our Zoo or watched our Facebook videos, you’ve seen it. You may not have even realized that you’ve seen it. We’re talking about animal enrichment items. And while it may seem like all fun and games, there is a lot of science and research that goes into these projects. And we’d like to tell you a bit more about the amazing men and women who bring these projects to life.

Enrichment – it may be a term you’ve heard, but what is it? Put plainly, it is anything our keepers add to the environment of animals that is meant to stimulate their senses and elicit natural behaviors. This can mean anything from a jungle gym for birds to a hammock made of retired fire hoses, a bamboo ladder for sloths, or any of the beautifully-made papier-mâché items that animals quickly tear into and enjoy.

But who actually creates these items? The answer is a team of incredibly dedicated volunteers. The Volunteer Enrichment Team works closely with the keepers to collaborate on future projects and create items that will enrich the daily lives of our animals. All items are based on the natural history of each species and the materials come from a pre-approved material list that varies from animal to animal.

“It’s about the health and wellbeing of our animals,” says Jen Moormeier of the Volunteer Enrichment Team. “It’s a really collaborative team effort and our volunteer program helps support that.”

Currently, there are just under 30 members of the Volunteer Enrichment Team. They are an eclectic bunch made up of retired teachers, retired CEOS, and some that are still working full time but are volunteering in their off hours. But one thing they all have in common is that they are dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the animals, and the Zoo as a whole. So much so, that when the Zoo initially closed in March of 2020, the Volunteer Enrichment Team shifted their efforts from animal projects to creating face masks for employees. When it was safe to return to animal projects, they shifted processes and procedures in order to ensure optimal safety for the animals (think: lots and lots of disinfectant). In a year when many things slowed to a halt, this team kept on moving and completed over 257 devices in 2020 – all items that directly contribute to the health and wellbeing of our animals.

Enrichment is a major part of the work the Cincinnati Zoo does every day to care for the physical and mental health of our animals. And this work would not be made possible without the Volunteer Enrichment Committee.

We Love Waste! … (yes, that kind of waste)

You read that correctly. As you can imagine, waste – in particular, animal waste – is a big deal at the Cincinnati Zoo. And while we are already the Greenest Zoo in America® based on our sustainability achievements, we’ve set our goals even higher.

Running through all projects in the More Home to Roam campaign is a goal of being the first zoo to achieve Net Zero Energy, Waste and Water status. With improvements in energy efficiency and stormwater collection built into all campaign projects to-date, we are well on our way to these transformational goals by 2025.

But what about all that animal waste? The addition of the new habitat, Elephant Trek, will help us move the needle on Net Zero Waste with the installation of a major on-site in-vessel composting program that will divert zoo animal waste. The compost it produces – or as we like to call it, “Fiona’s Gold,” – will be available for purchase by homeowners throughout the region. This industrial composting program will be unique to our region and will serve as an educational model for other entities. In addition to reducing Zoo waste and associated disposal costs, the premium compost will enrich the Zoo’s spectacular gardens.

The Fight in Fiona is in All of Us


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

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2020 Donor Magazine

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2019 Annual Report

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2019 Fall Donor Magazine

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2019 Spring Donor Magazine

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2018 More Home to Roam Donor Magazine

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2018 Spring Donor Magazine

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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.