Capital Investments for Animal Habitats and Gardens at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Private support is transforming Como for the 21st century
Como Friends has undertaken and completed three capital campaigns in support of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory since 2000. Each capital campaign paired philanthropic support from individuals, foundations and corporations with bonding investment from the MN State Legislature.
- In 2000, Como Friends launched a capital campaign for the construction of the Visitor Center that united the historic Zoo and Conservatory with a shared entrance and provided needed visitor amenities such as a year-round restaurant and updated restrooms. The successful public-private partnership between Como Friends and the City of Saint Paul reached its goal in 2003, securing a total of $32.45 million. In addition to providing the funds to build the Visitor Center, this community-wide initiative secured funding for the new Fern Room in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, the immersive Tropical Encounters exhibit, a new behind-the-scenes Animal Support Building, and renovation of the 1930-era Zoological Building for administrative use.
- In 2007, an $18.8 million campaign was launched 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. This Campaign for Como achieved its goal in 2011.
- In 2016, Como Friends and the City of Saint Paul began work to secure funding for a new seals and sea lions habitat. In 2018, the final dollars were secured for the $20.38 million Como Harbor. Como Harbor is scheduled to open to the public in late summer or early fall of 2020. It will feature a large, year-round, salt water pool for the seals and sea lions; a new underwater viewing experience; a new restaurant with extensive outdoor seating; and a new shaded amphitheater for the beloved Sparky the Sea Lion Show.
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