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The Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/Phoenix Zoo has been a point of pride for Arizona for over 55 years. The Zoo is the state’s most popular cultural attraction, hosting nearly 1.4 million guests each year.

Decades of success in fulfilling its mission to inspire people and motivate them to care for the natural world through impactful education programs and conservation efforts have made the Zoo an international leader among zoological organizations. Fulfilling this mission requires ongoing investment in capital projects that best serve the Zoo’s animal collection and guests – The Pride Campaign has done precisely that.

Completion of the $13.9 million Pride Campaign will fund a series of capital projects in four major areas of the Zoo, which will dramatically impact guest experience, strengthen educational offerings and expanding programs for species recovery. These projects include new habitats in the Africa Trail, expansion of the elephant habitat on the Tropics Trail and the construction of a 500-seat amphitheater. Achievement of The Pride Campaign will be one of the ultimate achievements for the Phoenix Zoo.

Campaign funds have already expanded and upgraded our species conservation research facilities and programs, hallmarks of the Zoo and for which it is internationally recognized. With the completion of the Johnson Conservation Center expansion, sand cat, Aldabra and Galapagos tortoises’ habitats, and now the new Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater and Giants of the Asian Realm, presented by The Kemper & Ethel Marley Foundation, we are excited to begin work on the final project of the Campaign – the new and expanded Africa Trail.

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The expansion of the Africa Trail will be the Zoo’s largest capital project to date, spanning six acres and resulting in an immersive experience for guests featuring new, up-close animal viewing in the new Predator Passage and Great Rift Valley habitats. A new and expanded one-acre habitat will feature African lions and hyenas. New animals to the Zoo include a clan of meerkats, Colobus and guenon monkeys and red river hogs.

Aldabra Tortoise Habitat

Funded | Opened March 2018

The Aldabra tortoise is endemic to the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Madagascar. With their new home, guests will look forward to many more encounters with these amazing animals.

Meerkat Habitat

You might have heard? There’s a new “mob” coming to town. A new habitat introducing a meerkat colony will be featured; providing guests an opportunity to witness this diminutive species’ highly evolved social structure. Constantly active and highly social, these creatures are among the most entertaining of Africa’s small mammals. Upon completion, a group (also known as a mob) of these highly social, small carnivores will call the Phoenix Zoo home. 

Predator Passage –  Lion, Hyena, Amur Leopard

Predator Passage will highlight some of Africa’s highest profile predators including African lions and spotted hyenas. As top predators and captivating species, lions and hyenas may be the most prominent residents of Africa. The African lion and spotted hyena will reside adjacent to one another within their respective new habitats. The combined area will feature rotational yards with two separate living spaces that either lions or hyenas may inhabit on any given day. Guests will always be able to experience these spectacular animals, from two different viewpoints through an expansive glass viewing area.

The exhibit would also feature the highly endangered Amur leopard, a close relative of the African leopard. Equally impressive, the Amur leopard is one of the most endangered species on the planet, with fewer than 50 individuals estimated to be living in the wild. The Phoenix Zoo would be a significant contributor to the conservation of this endangered cat. Based on the recommendation of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the Phoenix Zoo has agreed to play a major role in the AZA Amur Leopard Species Survival Plan® (SSP), participating in efforts to save these beautiful animals from extinction.

This new indoor/outdoor, air-conditioned Predator Passage facility will provide guests the opportunity to witness these large, rare predators up close. We know from guest and member surveys that access to more climate-controlled animal viewing spaces is a priority for our community, and this area will be a welcoming addition to the Zoo experience.

Additional surrounding enclosures and winding trails connecting guests to even more intriguing exhibits – will bring this remarkable array of indigenous species to the desert environment of Papago Park.   

Great Rift Valley – Primate Plateau

As guests continue their journey through the expanded Africa Trail, they will encounter some of the charismatic mammals that inhabit the Great Rift Valley, one of the most spectacular wildlife areas on the continent of Africa. 

The new Primate Plateau is an ideal location to present our guests with up-close viewing of a mixed collection of primates to include colobus and guenon species.  The addition of these monkeys, both considered vulnerable with some sub-species classified as endangered in the wild, would provide the Zoo with inspiration to connect with new field projects to support much needed species survival work. Colobus and guenon monkeys are active and engaging species for zoo guests. Family groups of both species will create a dynamic mixed species habitat.

Additionally, we anticipate bringing in the most colorful member of the pig family, red river hogs, as a new addition to the Zoo, creating a fascinating mixed species habitat with the primates.  Red river hogs are a social species, so we anticipate having a family group occupy this renovated space. Red river hogs have magnetic personalities and are a wonderful species to highlight in this region.

Great Rift Valley – Grasslands

The Grasslands region will highlight the fascinating warthog. Warthogs are environmental engineers that play a critical role in African grassland ecosystems. They have large protective pads on their faces and padded areas on their legs that allow them to kneel and eat short grasses. They often excavate the landscape, which can help smaller species utilize the grassland habitat. One species is among the planet’s most beautiful and feared hunters; the other features a face only a mother could love. Warthogs are among the more interesting mammals of Africa and are also a long-time favorite in our early childhood education and Camp Zoo programming each year. 

Behind the scenes, renovated holding facilities will provide the species housed in the Primate Plateau and Grasslands exhibits well-designed indoor spaces where they can escape inclement or extreme weather or experience a change in environment at their leisure.  The facilities will also allow for optimal animal care by our veterinary staff and husbandry teams.

Giants of the Asian Realm, presented by The Kemper & Ethel Marley Foundation

Funded | Opened October 2019

The Phoenix Zoo is home to three very special Asian elephants: Indu, Reba and Sheena. The Zoo is embarked on an ambitious plan to raise more $2 million to double the available space for its elephants, providing ample room to roam – as well as husbandry care and behavioral enrichment. Now completed, this additional space will allow the Zoo to continue its ground-breaking work in the advancement of care of these pachyderms. The expansion will also enable Zoo guests to view these amazing animals more consistently. Opportunities to see the high level of care required to maintain these magnificent animals will provide guests a better understanding of elephants, from their sensitive feet to their very active brains.

As a leader in elephant care, the Zoo has hosted biennial workshops for attendees from around the world. Workshops include education on proper husbandry, health care, protected contact, foot care, emergency procedures and management techniques. This expansion will play a key role in educating workshop attendees in the importance of proper habitat design for the best care of their animals and educating their public.

Indu, Reba and Sheena have been a part of the Zoo for many years and will continue to be for many years to come.

Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater

Funded | Opened October 2019
Showcasing animal behaviors provides insight into their adaptations and is an integral aspect of the Zoo’s educational objectives. The new 500-seat amphitheater on the Nina Mason Pulliam Children’s Trail, features broad lake views and a spacious and functional stage with backstage animal holding facilities. The Doornbos Discovery Amphitheater has provided consolidated housing and care for the Zoo’s educational collection of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. It has also provided flexible space for artistic performances, school group gatherings and organizational functions.

The tropical rainforest is a hot, moist biome found near the equator. It is estimated that tropical rainforests sustain 50 percent of all species on Earth. The Tropics Trail is home to some of the Zoo’s favorite and most iconic residents.

Galápagos Tortoise Habitat
Funded | Opened March 2018
These slow moving, yet charismatic reptiles are a guest favorite and can live to be more than 100-years old. The new enhanced habitats provide indoor space, which will help these ectothermic animals better regulate their temperatures and provide greater viewing opportunities for guests.

Sand Cat Habitat
Funded | Opened March 2018
Native to Africa’s Sahara Desert, the Arabian Peninsula and central Asia, the sand cat prefers dry, arid habitats. This new habitat is featured at the C.W. & Modene Neely Education and Event Center where guests of special evening events will have promising views of this nocturnal cat.

Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation Conservation Center Expansion
Funded | Opened Summer 2017

The additional facility has greatly increased the Zoo’s conservation science capacity and provided additional space for critical work on behalf of imperiled Arizona species, including the Mount Graham red squirrel and the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl.

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building a future

The Phoenix Zoo is a non-profit organization that receives no government operating subsidy. It relies solely on earned income and philanthropic support. Of the $12.1 million campaign total, $1.1 million will be restricted to a permanent endowment to support operational and maintenance expenses of these new expanded projects.

For more information, contact Lorraine Frias at 602.914.4322.

Giraffe peeking out