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Dear Mrs. Oberkircher,

Approaching its 20th anniversary, The Oberkircher Discover Center has been the longest standing and most consistently used feature in the zoo. As the crux of the education department, the center has hosted thousands of students (both young and young at heart) and has played home to hundreds of animal ambassadors. It is the reason why new educational endeavors can be explored and how we make such an invaluable impact on our community.

With attendance numbers jumping to just shy of 1 million and education bookings through the roof, the need to open a new education center has reached a critical juncture. I hope as you peruse the zoo's most recent successes you are inspired to also review our Education Complex Proposal, and consider once again, making an indelible impact on the zoo's operations. With your support, we will be equipped to educate the community for years to come and increase our animal ambassador collection to house some incredible species.

I appreciate your consideration of this request, and I look forward to having you to the zoo. I know you will enjoy seeing all the changes in person!

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Jennifer Conti,
Development Director





 











 

ORGANIZATION UPDATE
A Five-Year Highlight
95 years ago, Elmwood Park Zoo began with a small group of volunteers maintaining an even smaller collection of white tailed deer. Today, nearly a century and 150 staff members later, Elmwood Park Zoo has grown to be one of Montgomery County's largest and most powerful educational and recreational institutions.

The past five years in particular have been unprecedented, with organizational and operational growth across the board. The below information provides a snapshot of these accomplishments, with a full report provided in the link.

    VIEW THE ORGANIZATION UPDATE    


 



 

New Leadership

Our new General Curator, Marina Haynes, comes to the zoo with over 17 years in animal management and a Masters in Animal Sciences. From vet-tech, to zookeeper, to curator, Haynes has seen every aspect of the Zoo world and is excited to offer her expertise and vision in our period of unprecedented growth.

Coming from her role as Curator of Primates, Small Mammals and KidZooU! at the Philadelphia Zoo, Haynes’ rounded knowledge and award-winning experience with youth-centric Zoological learning make her the perfect fit for Montgomery County’s boutique Zoo.

Director of Education, Laura Houston comes to EPZ with nearly two decades in zoo education. Her knowledge and accomplishments will become integral to the expansion of the zoo’s educational offerings for years to come.

Helping launch Philadelphia Zoo’s accessibility-geared children’s zoo, KidZooU!, Laura brings both expertise and devotion to Elmwood Park Zoo’s facility-wide accessibility overhaul — with her passion already playing a large role in the zoo’s recent accreditation by the IBCCES as the first zoo in the nation to be a Certified Autism Center.

Dr. Michele Goodman, Elmwood Park Zoo's Director of Veterinary Services, received her veterinary medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, and her MHS degree at Quinnipiac University.

Working throughout graduate school as a research assistant and animal health consultant at the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, Dr. Goodman has given many lectures in waterfowl rehabilitation and medicine — both around the country and internationally—, and is the current President of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association.

Cody Lotrecchio, the zoo's Assistant Director of Guest Services, worked for four years as an Assistant Manager in Guest Programs at Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere.

Holding a BA in English with a concentration in Secondary Education from the University of Delaware, Cody is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation and graduate of the Walt Disney World College Program.

Holding her BA in English from George Washington University, and MA in Education from Arcadia University, Volunteer Programs Manager Sara Harrington comes to the zoo as a former Philadelphia Zoo volunteer Docent and AARK Wildlife Rehabilitation volunteer.

Sara's contributions assisted volunteers to give 32,000 hours of service to the zoo this year, doubling the donated hours from 2018, and quadrupling those from 2017.


 

New Exhibits and Attractions

Treetop Adventures

Treetop Adventures at Elmwood Park Zoo features over 70 challenges, games and zip lines that reach up to 40 feet above the ground in the trees of the Zoo — not to mention Pennsylvania's only location to zip line over animal exhibits!

Treetop Adventures offers outdoor fun for all ages! With both children and adult courses to choose from, every thrill-seeker has an adventure suited just for them!

Originally a turnkey operation, then purchased outright by the zoo in 2016, Treetop Adventures has added an entirely new earned revenue stream for the zoo and opened the doorway to a whole new set of demographics.


Trail of the Jaguar

Home to the zoo's iconic big cats and other species, Trail of the Jaguar is the multimillion-dollar showpiece of what the zoo is soon to become. With beautiful, natural, indoor and outdoor spaces, and thematic Pueblo-style architecture, this exhibit transports guests out of Norristown and into the American Southwest.

Housing three jaguars, an ocelot and two cougars — to name a few, this exciting exhibit is packed with incredible animals on breathtaking display. Sitting behind giant panes of glass, animals and guests are within inches of each other! Interactions are further deepened through a mix of static signage and digital displays that immerse learners in the rich and exciting details of the animals and their natural habitats.


Savanna Station featuring Taphouse 23 Giraffe Feeding Experience

Home to the world's tallest mammal as well as the world’s most iconically striped equine, Savanna Station transports guests out of Norristown and into the African Sub-Sahara. Featuring the zoo's most engaging animal experience, the Taphouse 23 Giraffe-Feeding Experience, Savanna Station became one of the zoo's most beloved exhibits.

And even more recently, in concordance with our efforts to bring the zoo into the 21st century, the zoo chose the Giraffe-Feeding Experience as the site of its very first live exhibit webcam. This new giraffe webcam lets giraffe fans across the world engage in the zoo’s feeding experience, broadcasting a live stream through a user-controlled camera.


Zoo Brew

First opening in the summer of 2015, Elmwood Park Zoo's ZooBrew bar has quickly become a fan favorite. Spurring rentals, bringing new demographics, and leading to corporate partnerships, ZooBrew is now a multi-faceted revenue stream for the zoo.

Unique partnerships — like Chaddsford Winery’s production of the zoo’s signature Red Fox Red and Arctic Fox White fundraising wines — combined with corporate rentals and local brewery partnerships have buttressed the zoo’s contributed revenues. And happy hours and Treetop Adventure’s adult course packages have granted the zoo access to older demographics, as well as provided adult offerings to those bringing their children.


Bison-Feeding Experience

Coming face to face with the nation's largest land mammal, Elmwood Park Zoo's Bison Feeding Experience is as fun as it is unique: providing kids, parents and grandparents with an experience that will last a lifetime.

This amazing new experience has not only allowed the zoo to get one step closer to its mission, but also breathed new life into one of the zoo's oldest and most prominent animal enclosures.


Birds of Paradise Exhibit

Providing emergency funding in 2016 after the collapse of the exhibit's roof during a blizzard, the Connelly Family Foundation helped the exhibit rise phoenix-like from its proverbial ashes. With its incredible opportunity to hand-feed free-flighted birds, the newly re-constructed Birds of Paradise has become one of the zoo's most engaging attractions.

Serving as the focal point of the zoo's "Touch Tours" programs for visually- and auditorily-impaired learners, the exhibit has taken on new significance in the zoo's push to become an even more inclusive facility.


Thomas Kimmel Playground & Percussion Garden

In 2001 longtime supporters and former board member, Don and Gloria Kimmel, built the Thomas Kimmel Conservation Kingdom, a state-of-the-art (much needed) interactive playground.

Recognizing what the well-maintained, secure playground meant to the community, The Kimmel Family endeavored to ensure the playground would forever receive the attention and funding it needed.

In 2016, the Zoo and The Kimmels embarked on a campaign to update the playground, adding kid- and eco-friendly rubberized flooring, new jungle gym equipment, and much more!


Carousel & Train Ride

In 2015, Elmwood Park Zoo installed a restored Densel Carousel near of it's newly renovated Thomas Kimmel Playground. In the successive years, the incorporation of the caterpillar-themed children's train ride, and the construction of the Thomas Kimmel Percussion Garden, the zoo's wood-chipped play area has transformed into a robust entertainment complex where children can learn as they play.


Lower Parking Lot

a new 300-space parking lot will open early 2020, increasing available parking to 650 spaces

Elmwood Park Zoo has made some amazing changes in the past few years, adding incredible new exhibits and attractions that will keep guests excited for years to come!

(click the grayed-out images on the map to learn more)


 

Financial Update
With new attractions like Treetop Adventures, the carousel, the caterpillar train ride, and new experiences like giraffe, bison, and conure feeding, the Zoo made leaps and bounds in creating sustainable, revenue-generating models that help protect our past and planned investments; all of which will be bolstered by the opening of the aforementioned parking lot.


 

2019 Education Highlights
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Over 400 Zoo-on-Wheels programs performed at local schools!
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Over 300 school education programs performed at the zoo!
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Over 30,000 students received on-site programming in the Oberkircher Discovery Center
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Over 40,000 giraffe feeding experiences offered!
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15 programs performed for visually- and auditorily-impaired learners!


 
New Inclusivity Initiatives
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The Nation's First Certified Autism Center Zoo

In May of 2018, Elmwood Park Zoo became the first zoo in the nation to earn certification as a Certified Autism Center. This designation, given by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), is awarded to organizations that have completed a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with a wide array of special needs.


 

New Education Programs


 



 

Thank you again for taking the time to review the zoo's current successes. It is because of those who supported the zoo in the past that we are able to look forward to a bright and prosperous future. We are grateful to you and your family for believing in the zoo decades ago, and hope to have your continued confidence and support as we enter into this new decade.

— Jen Conti



 



 

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