Contributions from Como Friends’ community of supporters help make more possible every day of the year
Donations of every size really do make a difference at Como Friends. Details below!
Thanks to our generous community of supporters, Como’s public restrooms now have convenient step stools to help our youngest visitors reach up and wash their hands, while Sparky the Sea Lion and her friends are about to move into a state of the art habitat called Como Harbor.
Both improvements, small and large, are possible because of the successful public/private partnership Como Friends has championed since its start in 1999.
“We celebrated our 20th anniversary as an organization this year, and one of the things that makes us most proud is seeing all the ways that Como Friends’ investments every year help to elevate and enrich what’s possible at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory,” says Jackie Sticha, president of Como Friends. “Whether it’s a $20 million habitat improvement for the seals and sea lions, or a set of $20 step stools to help young families, our goal at Como Friends is to invest private dollars strategically, to get the most value for our community, and to do the most good for the plants, animals and people that connect here at Como.”
Here’s a look at how your generous contributions to Como Friends were invested all across Como’s campus in 2019:
Conservation education programs and partnerships: Helping visitors to connect with and care for the natural world is part of the mission at Como Friends, which continued its support for Conservation Champions, a high-impact micro-grant program that sends Como’s professional staff out into the world to support and learn from conservation efforts in the field. Through Como Friends’ operational support for education programs, Como is also able to connect more than 20,000 K-12 students each year to environmental learning experiences through classroom and on-campus programs. Private dollars are also helping to develop an exciting new guest engagement strategy at Como designed to help every visitor dive a little deeper into Como’s animal and plant collections. READ MORE
Animal Care and Habitat Improvements: Construction of Como Harbor has been the major headline at Como this year, but private donations to Como Friends provided even more resources at Como Zoo, from an upcoming fantastic renovation of the historic Aquatic Animals Building, to the progressive animal training and enrichment program that keeps animals like Buzz the polar bear, Skeeter the giraffe, and Aunt Bea the Bison healthy and curious. In 2019, your contributions to Como Friends also helped to provide for a new water filtration system for the puffins and penguins, and a new ultrasound machine to give keepers and veterinarians even better data about animal health care.
Plant Care and Horticultural Programs: Did you notice the beautiful new Milkweed Pollinator Garden near Gorilla Forest this summer? It’s just one of the horticultural improvements your support for Como Friends made possible in 2019, from tropical trees newly planted in the Tropical Encounters habitat, to the landscape restoration in Polar Bear Odyssey (because polar bears can be pretty hard on their plants…). Thanks to endowment funding secured by Como Friends, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory also had the resources to continue the restoration and specialized pruning of the Charlotte Partridge Ordway Japanese Garden, and to upgrade the lighting and shade panels that keep everything growing strong in the Conservatory’s backstage greenhouse.
Campus Equipment and Improvements: Your contributions to Como Friends also help Como’s professional staff of keepers, horticulturists and education specialists be more effective and efficient on the job. For instance, 2019 dollars helped to pay for a laminator and a safe and reliable minivan to support “Como in the Community” programs, new pruning equipment to help horticulturists scale the heights of the Palm Dome, and mobile offices that allow education and Conservatory staff members to work more effectively from all corners of Como’s campus.