Elmwood Park Zoo is pleased to announce that a donor has given a landmark $30 million gift to fund the construction of a new animal hospital and welcome center. The gift both honors the zoo’s upcoming 100th anniversary in 2024, and supports the zoo’s ambitious $150 million master plan, which features a series of projects that will renovate and expand the zoo over several years.

At over 17,000 square feet, Elmwood Park Zoo’s animal hospital will be one of the largest and most advanced exotic animal care facilities in the nation. Its multiple exam rooms, treatment centers, quarantine facilities, recovery wards, and surgical suites will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment. Giant glass viewing bays will provide guests with an insider’s look at the hospital’s daily activities. Everything from select medical procedures to diet preparations will be on public display, further emphasizing the high level of care the zoo’s animals receive.In addition to the hospital, the building will host the zoo’s welcome center, featuring ticket windows, educational displays, and a gift shop. Guest amenities that focus on accessibility and inclusivity will provide visitors with a comfortable and inviting environment. An additional floor inside the building will add over a dozen administrative offices and meeting spaces.

The anonymous donor, a local entrepreneur with strong ties to Norristown, intended his contribution to be the leading gift toward the zoo’s master plan, saying “It was made as an effort for other Montgomery County philanthropists to follow [my] lead and get involved.”

“It’s beyond humbling to receive such a transformative and generous gift,” said Al Zone, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Executive Director and CEO. “This donation comes at a crucial moment for the zoo. On the verge of our 100th anniversary, this gift allows us to extend our exceptional veterinary care to an increasing number of species, and it provides us with a means to build an entrance that can accommodate the large number of guests who visit us each year. It’s the most important piece of a plan from which all of our other plans will be made possible.”

Preliminary drawings for the animal hospital and welcome center can be seen on the zoo’s website at www.elmwoodparkzoo.org/master-plan. The web page lists additional goals of the zoo’s master plan, including new animal exhibits and expansion areas.

“We are truly fortunate to have the confidence of this individual, and I appreciate his forward thinking to help the zoo begin its next century as a strong and sound organization,” said Jennifer Conti, Elmwood Park Zoo’s Director of Development. “The zoo has shown immense organizational strength over the last two years, and we have overcome tremendous challenges to get us to where we are today. I am very much looking forward to the journey ahead.”


Elmwood Park Zoo was established in 1924 when a local farmer transferred 16 acres and a small menagerie to the Borough of Norristown. Today, the zoo is owned and operated by the Norristown Zoological Society, a non-profit organization whose mission is to foster an appreciation for wildlife and the environment that will inspire active participation in conservation. Under the Society’s careful management, Elmwood Park Zoo has attained elite status as one of over 230 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The zoo’s accreditation was renewed in September 2022.