Moving Como Forward
Private support is transforming Como for the 21st century
In 2000, Como Friends began a $32.45 million capital campaign to create the Visitor Center that united the historic Zoo and Conservatory with a shared entrance—and a shared mission—in 2005. The successful public-private partnership reached its goal in 2003, securing $24.54 million from the public sector and $7.91 million in private contributions. This community-wide initiative provided the funding to build a new wing to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, the immersive Tropical Encounters exhibit, and a new Animal Support Building, while renovating the WPA-era Zoological Building for administrative use.
In 2007, Como Friends launched an $18.8 million capital campaign to build Polar Bear Odyssey, a naturalistic new habitat for Como Zoo’s polar bears, and The Ordway Gardens, a new wing to showcase the Conservatory’s nationally-regarded Japanese horticultural collections. In spite of a challenging economic climate, the Campaign for Como achieved its goal in 2011, matching $10.35 million in public funding with $8.45 million in private contributions.
Capital investments at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory have been shown to have important ripple effects throughout the state economy. A recent study conducted by Sapphire Consulting found that the $11 million in public funding invested in Gorilla Forest, the new primate habitat opened in 2013, contributed to more than $24 million in economic impact for the state of Minnesota, while also creating 202 jobs.