banner - Capital Campaign Photo, rendering of elephant exhibit, view from afar, pathway passes concession, then goes on to boma village, with lots of green foliage and trees along the pathway

Paving the Path to an Amazing and Engaging New Year

In case you’ve missed it, we’ve been busy as bees at the Zoo this year with all kinds of amazing renovations. 2015 has been the year of the Leadership Capital Campaign and activity at the Zoo is hopping! We’re looking forward to lots of excitement as the Campaign leads into next year. Be prepared to be Amazed!

What is Included in the Capital Campaign?

Little blue pinguin on the rock

Little penguin

The Leadership Capital Campaign (approved in 2013) was established to further the Zoo’s mission of “bettering the bond between people and our planet” and to meet and exceed the most recent Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) standards for accreditation. We wanted to build on our distinguished legacy within the community: inspiring awareness for wildlife conservation, encouraging education of the natural world, and enriching the lives of our guests through innovative and captivating experiences. It was important to build the kind of engaging exhibits that would create longlasting memories while inspiring action. It’s through amazing interactive moments that the spark of care and concern for wildlife occurs.

The Louisville Zoo’s $10,400,000 Leadership Campaign includes four major points:

  • Renovation of the elephant exhibit
  • Creation of Penguin Cove exhibit
  • Creation of Outpost on the Edge Restaurant with renovation of existing monkey exhibit
  • Construction of a new (Snow) Leopard Leap exhibit

In 2016, we will complete two of those major projects: The renovation of the elephant exhibit and the creation of Penguin Cove.

The construction for the new Elephant Encounter began ramping up in mid-February. The update of the exhibit was well-timed for elephant ambassadors like Mikki and Punch.

Bringing awareness to the plight of presentday elephants — that 96 elephants are killed daily due to ivory poaching — and the staggering effects of their habitat loss, is crucially important now more than ever before. An estimated 35,000 elephants are killed each year. Animal ambassadors bring these issues to the forefront in communities that will never experience these issues firsthand but where citizens can become well-informed and participate in elephant mitigation advocacy.

There were some notable changes to the existing Louisville Zoo elephant exhibit, which had elements dating to the Zoo’s opening in 1969. The elephant barn was remodeled. This enabled keepers to have more space and greater maneuvering of the elephants in their bedrooms, as well as allowing staff to prepare for the newest AZA standards on elephant management.

New fiber-reinforced rubber flooring was added to the existing flooring in the exhibit for the added comfort and well-being of the elephants. The roof was repaired and extra skylights were added for better climate control.

On the outside of the exhibit, the elephant yard was more than doubled to 24,000 square feet. Elephants will now have access to trees and a large pile of clay for enrichment activity. If you’ve seen Mikki digging and rolling around next to the elephant pool — you know how much elephants like clay! This big pile of clay will provide lots of extra enrichment for our playful pair. Additionally, a new elephant training wall comes equipped with “elephant showers.” Mikki and Punch have the choice of pressing two buttons on the wall… and their decision may determine whether they or YOU get a shower!

Many changes are in place now with some of the fun new additions ready to roll in Spring of 2016!

Along with the new Elephant Encounter, the Louisville Zoo will formally open the brand new Penguin Cove exhibit to the public. The new Penguin Cove habitat mimics the beachy terrain of Australia and will feature some of the Zoo’s cutest new inhabitants — fairy penguins or “little penguins.” We don’t want to give away too much, but there are lots of surprises in store from this smallest species of penguin.

If you think that’s exciting, just wait until you hear about our plans for the next few years. We have plans for a NEW African Primate exhibit and a beautiful sculpture garden including several sculptures of a lion pride and their cubs. Both of these projects will be located next to “Outpost on the Edge,” an upcoming Outpost renovation featuring expanded deck seating and amenities.

shutterstock_24051742We’re also planning a NEW Leopards’ Leap Exhibit featuring upclose encounters with beautiful snow leopards and an early childhood learning space called “The Den.” The early learning space will connect young people to animals, habitats, cultures and group activities in a stimulating environment. Students will participate in fun educational programs that enhance their observation, critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

There will be lots more information about our planned exhibits in the next issue of Trunkline. It’s been an amazing year at the Zoo, and we’re looking forward to a shining New Year! Compelling experiences await you at the Louisville Zoo. Won’t you come out and join us on our next adventure?


Follow the Leadership Capital Campaign updates on our Building Blocks Blog!