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Cincinnati Zoo to launch $150M capital campaign to enhance animal habitats

Cincinnati Zoo to launch $150M capital campaign
Posted at 1:29 PM, Jun 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-07 13:06:40-04

CINCINNATI -- Zoo visitors will be able to experience Roo Valley, Elephant Trek, Rhino Reserve and even a beer garden by 2025. 

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will launch a $150 million capital campaign by 2025 that will help expand space for elephants, rhinos and kangaroos so the animals have "more home to roam." 

"An unprecedented, transformational gift" of $50 million from Harry and Linda Fath has jump started the campaign. The local philanthropists were also major contributors to the zoo's indoor portion of Gorilla World and the Africa habitat.  

The campaign will expand the elephant yard from one acre to five so the zoo can accommodate up to 10 elephants, Director Thane Maynard said. The expansion could open the door for breeding in the future.

The zoo plays an important role in the conservation of black rhinos, Maynard said. Part of the expansion plan calls for doubling the current space for the species. 

“We’ve bred more black rhinos than anybody else, 19 over the years,” Maynard said. “And we’re committed to them long term.” 

Maynard said another entrance will be added to the zoo to help accommodate its 1.8 million visitors. 

Parking is in desperate need of expansion, Maynard said. Harry Fath surprised zoo officials with a $10 million gift during the announcement to begin expansion. 

“I couldn’t be more excited. My family has been here for 140 years … I am so proud of Cincinnati, and I couldn’t think of a better place to live,” Harry Fath said. “I have spent my whole life trying to make Cincinnati a better place to live.”

Here are the exhibits and projects expected to open: 


  • Roo Valley: Kangaroos and wallabies will be just a few feet from guests in this exhibit. Crews will transform Wildlife Canyon into a two-level activity course, which will be 25 feet high in the treetops. 
  • Beer Garden: The multi-tiered seating area will be added to the Watering Hole so guests can enjoy Roo Valley. 
  • Entry Village: This new entrance will offer 12 new ticket windows and will streamline entry. Entry Village will have more family-style restrooms, additional storage space for strollers and calming rooms for guests with developmental disabilities. 


  • Rhino Reserve: Plans for this exhibit include a mixed species yard, expanded moats and a visitor viewing deck. The space will be more than doubled so crews can manage the critically endangered species as they breed and rear their offspring.
  • Parking garage: An 1,800-car parking garage will help make way for five acres for Asian elephants. 


  • Elephant Trek: This new habitat will be almost five times the size of the elephant’s current yard and will feature trees, mud wallows, pools and streams. Kids will be able to use a nature-based play area that will include water elements.