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Media Release: The Louisville Zoo Completes Leadership Campaign and Exceeds Goal

CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
Direct: 502-238-5331  |  Media Only: 502-744-5639

The Louisville Zoo is celebrating the completion of its Leadership Capital Campaign. Today, Mayor Fischer, Louisville Zoo Board president Darryl Metzger and Zoo Director John Walczak announced the final major gift to the campaign. Thanks to a $1 million gift from The John H. Schnatter Family Foundation, the Leadership Campaign exceeded its goal of $10.4 million for a final raised amount of $11.44 million.

In recognition of the Schnatter Family’s gift, the Zoo also announced today the naming of the John H. Schnatter Family Foundation Plaza at Leopard Leap. This area will be an inviting space, welcoming guests into a new snow leopard exhibit and an early learning play space. The plaza will feature a snow leopard sculpture and interpretive areas, giving staff and volunteers the opportunity to engage guests in activities and conversation.  Leopard Leap will be located near the current Tiger Tundra exhibit.

“On behalf of The John H. Schnatter Family Foundation, Annette and I are honored to be a part of the Leadership Capital Campaign reaching its goal,” said John Schnatter. “The Louisville Zoo is a special place for our family and many other families in this community. Our hope is that this gift will ensure the Louisville Zoo is here for future generations to learn from and enjoy.”

“We thank and celebrate the many generous donors who have helped us exceed our goal for this Leadership Campaign. We are fortunate to have community leaders like Annette and John who believe in and support our mission,” said Zoo Director John Walczak. “The John H. Schnatter Family Foundation plaza at Leopard Leap will enhance our guest experience by creating a gathering place for families and students for generations to come.”

In March 2016, the Leadership Campaign enabled the addition of the Harry Frazier Family Elephant Encounter, and the following summer, a newly revamped African area including an interactive sculpture garden. The Zoo also opened the Penguin Cove Conservation Center in May 2016 which introduced a new penguin species to Zoo guests — little penguins.

The early learning play space, The Cub House presented by PNC, is set to open in late 2018. Rounding out the campaign, groundbreaking is scheduled this autumn for Leopard Leap and a new African primate exhibit. The goal is to open the exhibits in 2019, just in time for the Zoo’s 50th anniversary celebration.


The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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