A Powerful Partnership
The public/private partnership behind Como Friends has fueled more than 15 years of improvements at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.
We inspire community generosity to advance Como Park Zoo and Conservatory as a destination where people from all walks of life can gather, learn and enjoy the natural world.
Como Friends’ History
More About the History of Como Friends
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is the most visited cultural institution in the state of Minnesota, welcoming more than five generations of families since 1897.
Making sure this regional treasure has the resources it needs to serve and inspire two million annual visitors is the mission of Como Friends, Como’s nonprofit fundraising partner. Created by a merger of several docent and support groups in 1999, Como Friends has been the driving force behind more than a decade of improvements that have elevated the care Como Zoo can provide for more than 1,000 animals, preserved the historic integrity of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, and transformed the campus with a shared Visitor Center, immersive new habitats and growing horticultural displays.
The successful public/private partnership forged by Como Friends has leveraged more than $35 million in new investment toward capital projects and community programs at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory that include:
- Visionary capital improvements such as the Visitor Center, Tropical Encounters, Polar Bear Odyssey and The Ordway Gardens wing.
- Annual investments in programs and improvements to benefit animals, gardens and visitors. Recent efforts include the Conservatory’s new Centennial Garden, a “face-lift” for Como Zoo’s historic African Hoofstock building, the restoration of the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden, and the continued expansion of conservation education programs that now reach more than 500,000 children and adults each year.
- Creation and growth of endowment funds to support garden and animal habitat improvements and education initiatives. Since Como Friends’ incorporation in 2000, funds have grown from $12,000 to $6.1 million, providing sustainable funding for Como’s second century of service to our community.