Elmwood Park Zoo is excited to announce it has received a $1 million donation from the Genuardi Family Foundation. The gift is in support of the zoo’s efforts to expand its development across the Stony Creek and is one of the largest in the zoo’s 97-year history.
Elmwood Park Zoo’s future expansion relies on being able to access the more than 20 acres of land that run adjacent to the zoo’s current footprint. The Genuardi Family Foundation’s gift will fund the construction of a 100 ft long vehicle and pedestrian bridge that spans the creek. The bridge is the crucial first step in allowing the zoo to develop the land for future animal enclosures, guest amenities and more. Learn more about the zoo’s Master Plan and Centennial Campaign here.
The Genuardi Family Foundation was established in 2001 by nine cousins of the third generation of the Genuardi family of Norristown as a means of giving back to the communities that supported their supermarket business. For over two decades, the Genuardi Family Foundation has helped fund a number of Elmwood Park Zoo’s initiatives, including its extensive animal husbandry programs, as well as its education programs for low income and special needs groups. “Our Board is pleased to support Elmwood Park Zoo at a crucial moment in its expansion,” said Beth Genuardi Borrelli, President of the Genuardi Family Foundation. “Families all over our region will continue to benefit immensely from the Zoo’s commitment to improving its exhibits and facilities, ensuring wonderful memories for future generations.”
“We are deeply thankful for the Genuardi Family Foundation’s tremendous generosity,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director and CEO. “Their support will get the ball rolling on the bridge across Stony Creek as well as our exciting plans for the future.”
“The gift from The Genuardi Family Foundation gets us one step closer to a whole new era for the zoo,” said Jennifer Conti, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Director of Development. “It opens up our ability to enhance our existing facility and create new and exciting adventures for our guests to enjoy.”
Elmwood Park Zoo hosted members of the local police, fire fighter, and ambulance departments this morning to honor the “first responders” for their service to the community.
As a further thank you, the zoo announced the creation of a yearly zoo membership intended especially for members of these departments. The zoo’s First Responder Membership will be available for free to police, fire, and EMT workers in Norristown and its surrounding townships. The membership provides free zoo admission and other exclusive perks, similar to the zoo’s yearly memberships available to purchase for individuals and families.
In his comments, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director and CEO, Al Zone, thanked the gathered forces from Norristown, East Norriton, West Norriton and Plymouth for their service. “We truly appreciate the support of our first responders, who put the safety of the residents of Montgomery County ahead of their own,” he said.
Also in attendance were Norristown Municipal Administrator Crandall O. Jones, East Norriton Township Manager Robert Hart, and West Norriton Township Manager Jason M. Bobst; each took a moment to heap further praise on the men and women serving their communities.
Elmwood Park Zoo is excited to announce that the charitable foundation Quest for the Best will match every private donation that the zoo receives throughout the month of May, up to $25,000. Quest for the Best will also count zoo memberships, adopt-an-animal packages, and gift cards purchased during this period toward their matching program.
Immediately after its closure in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the zoo began raising money for an Emergency Fund to support its daily animal care expenses. Without the ability to rely on admission revenue, the cost of essential items like food and medication threatened to empty the zoo’s reserves. Donations made to the Emergency Fund have directly supported these expenses.
“We are thankful to the Quest for the Best Foundation for presenting us with this matching grant that will double the donations made by the community,” said Jennifer Conti, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Director of Development. “We are very much looking forward to when our gates can open again, and each donation makes a difference until we are given permission to do so.”
“In furtherance of its mission to provide financial support to worthy causes in the Delaware Valley, Quest for the Best is pleased to support the Elmwood Park Zoo at a time when it faces enormous challenges in meeting the costs of maintaining the health, well-being, and safety of its animals,” said Taras Wochok, President of Quest for the Best.
Quest for the Best is led by legal professionals that provide business and transactional legal services to nonprofit organizations primarily located in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Bucks Counties. They also provide counseling and advice to the appropriate individuals that are served by these organizations.
“We are eternally grateful to Quest for the Best, as well as all of the zoo’s members, patrons and neighbors that have supported us during this time,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director and CEO. “Quest for the Best’s matching program to support our Emergency Fund will no doubt attract new supporters, while helping to ensure that we can continue providing our animals with exceptional care.”
Donations can be made to Elmwood Park Zoo’s Emergency Fund by visiting elmwoodparkzoo.org/emergency or by calling 610.277.3825 x 229.
Elmwood Park Zoo is excited to announce its new online destination for fun and educational content, “EPZoo2U.com.” The website provides guests with links to the zoo’s various videos, live streams, games and lessons that can be enjoyed for free by both children and adults. The zoo’s intent with EPZoo2U.com is to continue to provide the community with experiences that will inspire a commitment to wildlife conservation, even while the zoo is closed to daily visitors.
The highlight of Elmwood Park Zoo’s online educational offerings is “Bubby’s Club.” Named after the zoo’s bison mascot, “Bubby’s Club” features a number of activities, such as browser-based games that task children with identifying animal sounds, and finding the creatures that use camouflage to disappear in their environment. Visitors can also watch videos, and read through the books selected by Bubby in his very own book club.
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, the zoo will also be broadcasting “Zoo School Live!” through Facebook Live. This 15 to 20 minute program will feature the zoo’s Education Team presenting a lesson along with an animal from the zoo’s Ambassador program. Viewers can post questions to be answered live during the stream. Anyone who misses the broadcast will be able to watch the post throughout the day on Facebook, or visit the archive hosted on EPZoo2U.com. “Zoo School Live!” will stream live Monday through Friday at 11 am.
“Education has always been the cornerstone of Elmwood Park Zoo – it’s our first consideration in all our endeavors” says Jennifer Conti, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Development Director. “Our commitment to educate and engage with the community remains true even now, and we hope families can use or educational resources as so many homes become schools.”
The zoo will be working in the coming days to add content to EPZoo2U.com, such virtual tours and live streams of exhibit animals. Updates will be announced and made available on EPZoo2U.com, as well as elmwoodparkzoo.org.
Elmwood Park Zoo is one of many organizations to close during Pennsylvania State’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. On Friday, March 13, the zoo began a drive to support its Emergency Fund. The fund seeks to offset the zoo’s substantial financial loss caused by the loss of daily visitors. For information on how to support the Emergency Fund, visit elmwoodparkzoo.org.
Elmwood Park Zoo is closely monitoring the global outbreak of COVID-19. We are following updates from organizations including the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to stay informed on the latest developments. The threat of contracting COVID-19 remains low at this time and therefore the Zoo will remain open. We will update our operations as the situation requires and will continue to take the necessary measures to ensure the health and safety of our guests and employees. Questions can be directed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elmwood Park Zoo is pleased to continue providing free admission to Norristown Borough residents on the first Sunday of each month in 2020. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from Children’s Dental Health, residents of Norristown Borough that present valid photo I.D. may enter the Zoo free of charge on the following dates:
March 1, 2020
April 5, 2020
May 3, 2020
June 7, 2020
July 5, 2020
August 2, 2020
September 6, 2020
October 4, 2020
November 1, 2020
December 6, 2020
“We couldn’t be prouder to partner with the Elmwood Park Zoo, which has put countless smiles on the faces of children from Norristown and surrounding communities for nearly 100 years,” said Joe Lichty, Children’s Dental Health Director of Marketing.
Adults must show photo I.D. as proof of residency. Children must be accompanied by a Borough resident. Non-residents will be charged normal admission rates. Borough residents are defined by living within the following four boundaries:
east of Forrest Avenue
south of Johnson Highway
west of Sandy Hill Road/E Fornance Street
north of the Schuylkill River
NORRISTOWN, PA – Elmwood Park Zoo is pleased to announce a new partnership with The Centre Theater in Norristown that will combine zoo visits with admission to the iconic theater’s exciting new performance series.
Centre Theater and its resident company, Theatre Non-Conforming, will kick off its new Family Series in April with a four week run of the beloved children’s classic “Pinocchio.” It will be followed in the summer by a run of “Tarzan™” (Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. & Disney, All Rights Reserved), and conclude during the holidays with Charles Dickens’ timeless “A Christmas Carol.”
“Pinocchio” performances begin April 16 and run through May 10. All shows are recommended for ages 5 and up. For guests with sensitivities to sound and light, two autism-friendly shows will be available on April 25 and April 30.
Each ticket to “Pinocchio” will also include free Single Day Membership admission to Elmwood Park Zoo. The Zoo’s Yearly Members will receive exclusive discounts to the performances.
In addition to the partnership with Centre Theater, the Zoo has purchased a vintage trolley that it plans to use to transport its guests to and from the theater for the performances throughout the year.
The trolley, a reconditioned 1980 Boyertown Trolley Bus, was purchased from American Trolley Tours in Philadelphia. The 22-seat trackless vehicle will initially travel between the Zoo and Centre Theater, with the intention of adding stops at other Norristown institutions in the near future.
“We are so excited to support the arts and the amazing work being done by Centre Theater,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director and CEO. “I think the performances that Theatre Non-Conforming are planning will be fantastic and inspiring to children and adults of all ages.”
Tickets for “Pinocchio” are on sale now at theatrenon.com/family-series.
Elmwood Park Zoo is pleased to announce the scheduled return of its popular holiday lights event, Wild Lights. First debuting in 2018, Wild Lights transforms the zoo into a bright winter wonderland, with over a million lights adorning the trees, exhibits and buildings throughout its 16 acres. Tickets are on sale now at epzwildlights.com.
In addition to all-new light installations and a few returning favorites from last year, each night of Wild Lights will feature additional entertainment and attractions, such as unique animal greetings, performances, character appearances, holiday music, photos with Santa, carousel rides and more.
The evening events are scheduled for 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm on select dates, beginning November 22, and running through January 5. Prices range from $14 for adults to $9 for children. Yearly zoo members can purchase Wild Lights tickets for $12 for adults and $7 for children. Children ages 0 to 2 years old are free.
Wild Lights is generously sponsored by Taphouse 23. Located in Bridgeport, PA, Taphouse 23 serves gourmet food and the finest locally-sourced craft brews. Additional support for Wild Lights is provided by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 98, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, and 1SEO.com.
Elmwood Park Zoo has received a
generous grant from the TD Charitable Foundation that will directly support the
creation and operation of its new Connection Corner. Connection Corner is a
dedicated space in the zoo that will feature daily presentations highlighting
individual members of the animal ambassador collection.
Before the creation of the Connection
Corner, the animal ambassadors would typically only be seen outside of the zoo,
taking part in Zoo-On-Wheels programs that visit schools and public events. The
Connection Corner not only provides these animals with a new dedicated space to
appear, but it also provides the zoo’s education staff with space to exercise
the animals while interacting with guests.
TD Charitable Foundation’s $35,000
grant provides for the Connection Corner’s daily operation, as well as other
educational programs that the zoo uses to support its mission of promoting
wildlife and environmental conservation.
The Connection Corner is open daily,
weather permitting, and is located across from the zoo’s playground. Appearance
times vary throughout the day; for more information, guests are encouraged to
check the zoo’s website at elmwoodparkzoo.org, or download the Elmwood Park Zoo
mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices.
About TD Charitable Foundation
The TD Charitable Foundation is
the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, one of
the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. Since its
inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed over $222 million through
nearly 21,000 grants through donations to local nonprofits from Maine to
Florida. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including the online
grant application, is available at
About Elmwood Park Zoo
Established in 1924, Elmwood Park
Zoo in Norristown is home to dozens of wild and endangered species. As a nonprofit
organization accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, its mission
is to foster an appreciation for wildlife and the environment that will inspire
active participation in conservation.
Elmwood Park Zoo is excited to announce it has received a $2 million donation from J. P. Mascaro & Sons Foundations for the design and construction of a brand new Amur tiger exhibit. It will be the first time in the zoo’s 95-year history that tigers will be a part of its collection. The exhibit is slated to open in 2022.
Amur (also known as Siberian) tigers are the largest cats in the world. It is a highly threatened species, but wild populations can still be found throughout the forests of eastern Russia, as well as some areas in China and possibly North Korea. The tigers will be joining the zoo’s collection of “big” cats on exhibit, which currently includes jaguars and cougars.
“J. P. Mascaro & Sons Foundations has provided a tremendous amount of support to the community for many, many years. It’s truly inspiring,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo Executive Director and CEO. “They’ve also funded several of the zoo’s programs and services, which has benefited thousands of our guests and the people we meet in our community outreach. J. P. Mascaro & Sons Foundations has helped the zoo to grow and succeed, and their gift of a new tiger exhibit promises to take us to a whole new level.”
The J. P. Mascaro & Sons Foundations donation is being made in memory of Francesco A. Mascaro and Rosemarie Mascaro Venditti, both of whom are siblings of Mascaro company owners, Pat, Joseph, Michael and Louis Mascaro.
“The Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown is a quality operation that is enjoyed by local area residents. Our family has its roots in the Norristown area, and we are happy to be able to make the zoo’s new tiger exhibit a reality,” said Joseph P. Mascaro, Jr., the oldest of the Mascaro brothers. “My brother Frank always had a soft spot in his heart for the zoo, and no one loved animals more than my sister, Rosie. Our company is pleased to make this tiger exhibit donation to the zoo in their memory.”
Mascaro company President, Pat Mascaro, said, “Donations like this to the zoo in memory of my brother Frank and my sister, Rosie, and donations that our company is able to make to other deserving community programs, groups and organizations, are only possible because of the thousands of customers who do business with J. P. Mascaro & Sons, and because of our dedicated company employees who serve those customers. I want to give a special thank you to those customers and employees.”
Elmwood Park Zoo is set to unveil a
large addition to its exhibit collection when they debut Dwayne “The Brach”
Johnson, a 65 foot long, 35 foot tall Brachiosaurus. Dwayne will be officially
available to greet the public on Friday, July 19, beginning at 10:00 am.
The lifelike robot is the creation of
Dino Don, Inc., a Media, PA-based firm responsible for state of the art dinosaur
exhibits that are on display throughout the world. The Brachiosaurus that
they’ve installed in the zoo’s former capybara pond swings his neck and moves
his head while emitting a roar that is similar to the ones heard from the dinos
running amok in the Jurassic Park films.
The zoo held a contest to name the
dinosaur, with people asked to vote on their favorite name from a list that
included “Zacheosaurus,” and “Bracha Lee.” Dwayne “The Brach” Johnson ran away
with the vote, garnering nearly 30% of all 1,300 online respondents.
In addition to Dwayne, guests will see
a smaller Velociraptor robot positioned on the banks of the pond that also
moves and makes noise. The zoo has also created a dig pit for children to
uncover bones and artifacts like their favorite paleontologists, and a giant
Tyrannosaurus Rex head will be on hand for unique photo ops.
Elmwood Park Zoo’s dinosaur exhibit
will be on display through Labor Day. The exhibit is free to view with paid zoo
admission. A 50% off admission discount and other savings are available between
2 and 5 pm on weekdays only. More information is available at elmwoodparkzoo.org.
Elmwood Park Zoo is excited to unveil a brand new educational initiative to benefit local school students. Entitled “Elementary Education Takeovers,” the program invites area schools to visit the zoo, free of charge, for a whole day full of experiential learning activities.
The first Elementary Education Takeover is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7, from 10 am to 2 pm. Every first grade student from the Norristown School District, estimated to be over 650 children, will be attending. The students will be treated to a number of special interpretive education stations and a zoo-wide scavenger hunt.
“Our community is incredibly important to the Elmwood Park Zoo, especially the children. We wanted to create an opportunity that ensured every child in the Norristown school district is able to visit the Zoo at least once so that they can know the wonder of animals,” said Laura Houston, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Director of Education. “We hope that this is an introductory step that will allow students to know the Zoo is a welcoming and valuable resource right in their own backyard.”
The Elementary Education Takeover is made possible by a $12,235.50 grant from the Montgomery County Foundation Inc.’s 2018 Drew Lewis Donor Advised Fund, as well as a $12,000 grant from the Quest for the Best Foundation. Their generous contributions will finance the busing, admission, programs and animal feedings for every student. Elmwood Park Zoo is also providing lunch to every Takeover attendee, free of charge.
“We are truly fortunate to partner with the Elmwood Park Zoo on this first of its kind ‘Education Takeover’ day,” said Christopher Dormer, Superintendent of Schools. “Their commitment to our students by providing this opportunity for experiential learning will truly benefit and enrich the life and learning of each and every first grade student participating. We cannot thank them enough for their generosity to host such an event. We look forward to expanding opportunities for EPZ and NASD to work together to strengthen and enrich the community.”
Elmwood Park Zoo is observing an exciting milestone in 2019, as the nonprofit organization and Norristown, PA landmark celebrates 95 years of supporting and promoting wildlife conservation.
Elmwood Park Zoo first opened to the public on July 4th, 1924, with 6 white tailed deer headlining its meager collection. Today the zoo is home to dozens of species from all over the globe, including giraffes, jaguars, and zebras. It is one of the oldest zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). In 2018 the zoo welcomed over 600,000 guests, and it saw the number of annual members grow to over 13,000.
“We are proud and excited to be observing such a distinctive occasion,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director and CEO. “It’s humbling to be part of such a long running and beloved institution, and to know that you had a hand in its success.”
In addition to introducing a new 95th Anniversary version of its logo, the zoo plans on commemorating its anniversary throughout the year with various promotions and special events:
- Beginning March 4 and continuing every Monday throughout the year, the zoo will offer its first 95 guests discounted $9.95 admission.
- The zoo’s 11th annual Beast of a Feast fundraiser on June 20 will offer guests delicious food from Montgomery County’s top restaurants. Beast of a Feast is sponsored by 92.5 XTU.
- Elmwood Park Zoo’s 4th annual Wine Safari on August 16 returns to take guests on a tasting tour of local vineyards, breweries and distilleries.
- The zoo’s inaugural Golfing Fore Conservation outing will tee off September 23 at Bluestone Country Club in Blue Bell, PA.
- Elmwood Park Zoo’s Anniversary Gala will be a formal celebration of the zoo’s many accomplishments over the course of its 95 years, as well as its bright future. The Gala will be held on November 14 at Bluestone Country Club.
Additional promotions and events will be introduced throughout the year. Information on the festivities can be found by visiting epz95.com or elmwoodparkzoo.org, or by calling 610.277.3825 x 222.
Elmwood Park Zoo is pleased to announce it has received a $20,000 grant from the SEI Cares Fund, a charitable donor-advised fund of SEI Investments Co. The grant will be used to continue the zoo’s “Touch Tours” program, which provides tactile and sensory-driven experiences for blind and auditory-impaired children.
“SEI Cares has sustained the ‘Touch Tours’ program for a number of years, and for that, I am extremely grateful,” said Jennifer Conti, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Development Director. “With their support, the zoo can offer more than just a visual experience. Now, students with diverse needs can experience the zoo in a manner that is native to their learning styles; they can feel the soft pelt of a chinchilla, smell the sweet grain of our barn feed, and hear the calls from the Connelly Foundation Birds of Paradise exhibit. It is truly a unique program, and one that we are proud to offer.”
The grant also provides for zoo staff to attend continuing-education classes with teachers from the Overbrook School for the Blind. These classes help the zoo to improve their programs and become a more inclusive facility.
Guests can learn more about Elmwood Park Zoo’s accessibility services and amenities by visiting elmwoodparkzoo.org/visit/accessibility-amenities.
Author Jerry Spinelli and a host of other special guests will help Elmwood Park Zoo celebrate their annual Read Across America event on Saturday, March 2, from 11 AM to 2 PM. Read Across America is an event organized by the National Education Association. It celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. Seuss by encouraging children and young adults to read.
The zoo’s celebration features Mr. Spinelli, a Norristown native and acclaimed author of “Maniac Magee” and “Stargirl.” He will be greeting guests and signing books in the zoo’s Canopy Gardens Hall.
Additional special guests will include members of RSVP, a King of Prussia-based organization that supports communities through volunteerism. They will be reading popular English and Spanish language children’s stories.
Popular PBS Kids character Super Why will be greeting guests, courtesy of his friends from the WHYY Kids Club.
In addition to the special guest appearances, Read Across America will also feature a book fair, live animal greets, and a used book drive that benefits RSVP. Read Across America is a free to attend event after purchasing regular zoo admission.
Story and photo courtesy of John McDevitt/KYW News Radio 1060
It was a day of fun, education and inspiration for a group of court-adjudicated teenagers who spent the day at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown.
A group of about 20 students from Glen Mills Schools — a residential facility for court-adjudicated youth between 12 and 18 — got off the bus and spent the day exploring what the zoo has to offer.
Many of them have never been to a zoo before — let alone one that offers zip lining.
Successful business owner Lance Bachmann, president and CEO of tech firm 1SEO.com, sponsored the day because he was once in these teens’ shoes.
“I spent two years at Glen Mills — most people don’t know that,” he admitted. “So people are ashamed of that growing up as a kid. I always tell people I’m not ashamed of that at all. I had no control. I’m one of 14 children, grew up poor, single mother, abusive father — just not a good environment, and Glen Mills helped save my life.”
Bachmann told the kids to never let your past dictate your future — and he made his words a reality for one young student.
“One of you young students in this room are going to go to college for free next year,” he said to a surprised group. “I’m going to pay for the whole entire tuition.”