In 2018, your support for Como Friends helped to build Como Harbor and make possible a host of other programs and improvements at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
The next time you see a “Sparky the Sea Lion” show at Como Zoo, you won’t have to worry about where you left the sunscreen.
Built-in shade structures designed into the new Como Harbor amphitheater now under construction will help protect Sparky’s two million annual visitors from the sun during the summer’s brightest and hottest days.
“Como Harbor’s forward-thinking design features include needed upgrades for Sparky and her friends as well as for our visitors,” says Jackie Sticha, president of Como Friends. “With improvements that include a fantastic new underwater viewing experience, engaging spaces for school groups to gather and learn, and even a new restaurant, Como’s visitors are going to enjoy the improvements they’ll see when this progressive new habitat opens next year. The public amenities built into Como Harbor are clearly a big reason it has received so much enthusiastic support from the community.”
Como Harbor is a momentous improvement that will exceed all best practices for the care of seals and sea lions. The habitat will feature a large year-round, salt-water pool where the animals can swim and socialize all year round. New behind the scenes space will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the care of the animals.
Just this month, Como Friends secured the final private contributions needed for Como Harbor, set to open in spring 2020. Starting with a transformative $1 million lead gift from the Otto Bremer Trust, the capital campaign for Como Harbor earned the support of a host of generous private contributors and foundations, many of which were mobilized by Como’s commitment to free admission.
“The fact that everyone in our community is welcome at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory every day of the year, and invited to experience breathtaking encounters with animals and plants is what really resonates with people,” says Sticha. “We’re fortunate to have such a generous circle of donors who see the value Como brings to our community everyday. It’s a Minnesota tradition that people really want to protect and propel forward for the next century.”
As a Como Friends supporter, your contributions were critical to creating Como Harbor and a host of fantastic programs and improvements in 2018. Here’s a look:
FACE-TO-FACE ENCOUNTERS: Bringing behind-the-scenes animal care and training activities front-and-center for Como’s two million annual visitors has been an ongoing priority for Como Friends, which has invested in everything from the popular new giraffe feeding station to the recent make-over of Como’s large cats habitat. In 2018, Como Zoo’s gorillas got ready for their close-up with a brand new outdoor training area that makes it possible for visitors to see more of what it takes to keep our growing troop of western lowland gorillas healthy and curious.
FLOWERS FOR EVERY SEASON: One of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory’s most critical assets is one that visitors never see—Como’s 30,000 square-foot growing house, where nearly every flower, plant and vine in Como’s public collections is grown from seed. In 2018, Como Friends contributions helped to invest in a major upgrade of the greenhouse climate control system, an improvement that will keep Como’s flowers and plants blooming for years to come. Your support also helped renovate Como’s beloved Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden and begin work on the Cleveland Court, a new landscape garden set to open near Como’s front door this spring.
FIELD TRIPS FOR EVERYONE: Field trips to Como are a Minnesota tradition every child should experience. Through Como Friends’ partnership with the St. Paul Public Schools, every second grade classroom in the district is invited to take part in a free Como field trip, with a free Como shuttle service to and from campus. Designed for students at the “just right” age to begin learning about the scientific method and observation, the program also supports statewide science standards, elevating science literacy for nearly 2,000 young learners every year.
CONSERVATION CHAMPIONS: From following the footprints of snow leopards in Kazakhstan, to taking care of orphaned seal pups in California, several members of Como’s talented team of keepers and horticulturists have been on the go this year sharing their expertise with partner conservation groups and bringing home new insights as “Conservation Champions,” a new initiative created by Como Friends. This popular new program empowers Como professionals to become active partners in conservation efforts across the U.S. and around the globe.
Thank you for helping Como Friends meet our mission in 2018, inspiring 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.