The Potawatomi Zoo is proud to announce that it is undergoing a fundraising campaign called “Big & Loud” to build a new giraffe habitat and feeding experience, as well as renovate the former chimpanzee habitat to house lions.
“The Zoo has undergone such a transformation over the past few years, and we are thrilled to embark on this new project,” says Josh Sisk, executive director of the Potawatomi Zoo. “We believe our visitors, members, community, and partners are going to love experiencing giraffes and lions in such an up-close and personal way.”
As a zoological institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Zoo is committing to raise $4.8 million for the new Giraffe Feeding Adventure and $1.5 million to create a lion habitat. This is the largest animal habitat campaign in the Zoo’s history.
The outdoor Giraffe Feeding Adventure and habitat will cover 2.5 acres in the center of the Zoo and will include a mixed herd of giraffes cohabitating with other species like zebra and ostriches.
The central feature of the giraffe habitat will be a raised platform and feeding deck. Not only will this provide a public-access giraffe feeding experience, it will allow visitors to be at eye-level with the world’s tallest land species.
The 10,000 square foot giraffe barn will have a visitor-viewing area inside that will allow visitors to see and feed giraffes in inclement weather all year long. Very few zoos in the country offer this experience, and there is no other zoological institution within our region that has this unique opportunity.
In order to uphold the standards of care required by AZA, the Potawatomi Zoo will be modernizing the lion habitat. The new space will be larger and have a more naturalistic environment that better suits the welfare and quality of life requirements for lions in human care. Plans include a glass window for visitors to see lions up close.
“As a former giraffe zoo keeper, this is a project that is near and dear to my heart, but it is also one our community has asked for,” adds Sisk. “We are so proud to be one of the great things about South Bend, and we think this project will have a positive, meaningful impact on our entire region.”
In a 2012 survey of Zoo guests onsite and online, 38% of guests chose “giraffes” when asked which one animal species they would like to see at the Potawatomi Zoo.
Giraffes are native to savannas and woodlands in scattered regions across Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies giraffes as one species with nine subspecies, and they are considered to be a vulnerable species in the wild. The Potawatomi Zoo Giraffe Feeding Adventure will be an opportunity for visitors to learn more about this species’ behavior, habitat, and ecology.
To learn more about the Big & Loud campaign, including timeline and construction updates, visit www.potawatomizoo.org/bigandloud.