- 145,200 people attended a Close Encounter in 2013.
- 2,340 scheduled Close Encounter programs took place in 2013. This does not include Zookeeper Chats and spontaneous, unscheduled engagements.
- Legacy funds were used to create and install the following projects: a rhinoceros sculpture that connects to conservation efforts; shark species database and identification; creation of Close Encounters program graphics for the Nocturnal Hallway in the Tropics Trail; creation and installation of new graphic interpretation elements in Discovery Bay; and planning for a reading nook in the early childhood Beehive space.
Technology in Education
- Learning programs reached students in 20 Minnesota counties.
- Distance Learning programs won the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration 2013 Pinnacle Award from the nation’s largest network of interactive learning content providers.
- Technology program planning began in August 2013, with program expansion planned in 2014.
Bird Show Conservation Education
- The World of Birds show is now offered seven days per week from mid-October through April at no additional charge to zoo guests. Legacy funds were used to add bird shows on Tuesdays, thereby making the program available to thousands of zoo guests and school groups who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience this conservation education program.
- From mid-June to Labor Day, 10 to 15% of the Zoo’s daily guests visit the Butterfly Garden (or 56,350 to 84,530 during the 2013 Butterfly Garden season). The Butterfly Garden provided program content and curricular focus for more than ten summer zoo camps, serving more than 500 students ages three to 17.
- Legacy funding allowed the Minnesota Zoo to offer 10 to 30% more programs per quarter than in the same periods for the previous year, resulting in increased numbers of people served ranging from 9% to 43% for the same comparative quarters year to year.
- All 3rd grade students from Fridley, Columbia Heights, Brooklyn Center, St. Anthony and New Brighton public schools visited the Minnesota Zoo during the 2012-13 academic year.
Our World Speakers Series
- An average of 85 Minnesotans (mostly adult) attended each of the 2013 Our World Speaker Series events (totaling more than 600 people).The Our World Speaker Series was offered free of charge to all attendees, ensuring access for all interested guests.
- Focus groups were held to ensure that the eventual users (primarily Minnesota families) informed the design and development of this play area. Results of the focus group informed the design team and directly affected design decisions and priorities.
- Design and development was completed in November 2013 with construction documents due for completion on January 15, 2014.
Big Bugs! Exhibit
- Contracting for Big Bugs! is complete and the installation plan for summer 2014 is set.
- A theatre company was selected through a Request for Proposal process and is in production development.
- Planning and construction for the Live bugs exhibit is underway. Blueprints are complete and staff are in negotiation with the USDA related to quarantine requirements for the live bugs which are non-native species to Minnesota.
- 150,000 people attended a Close Encounter in FY2014.
- 2,485 scheduled Close Encounter programs took place in FY2014. This does not include Zookeeper Chats and informal, unscheduled engagements.
- Legacy funds were used to create and install the following projects: a rhinoceros sculpture that connects to conservation efforts; shark species database and identification; creation and installation of new graphic interpretation elements in Discovery Bay; and planning for a reading nook in the early childhood Beehive space.
Technology in Education
- In FY14, 66 Distance Learning programs reached students in 15 Minnesota counties.
- Distance Learning programs won the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration 2014 Pinnacle Award from the nation’s largest network of interactive learning content providers.
- A total of 271 Technology In Education programs delivered nationwide from the Minnesota Zoo in FY14.
Bird Show Conservation Education
- The World of Birds show is now offered seven days per week from mid-October through April at no additional charge to zoo guests. Legacy funds were used to add bird shows on Tuesdays, thereby making the program available to thousands of zoo guests and school groups. 700 Bird Shows were offered in FY14.
- From mid-June to Labor Day, we estimate 15% of the Zoo’s daily guests visit the Butterfly Garden (or approximately 90,043 people during the 2014 Butterfly Garden season)
- The Butterfly Garden provided program content and curricular focus for 12 summer zoo camps, serving more than 500 students ages three to 17.
- 50,860 Minnesotans participated in Zoomobile programs in 55 Minnesota counties in FY14.
Bug Bugs! Exhibit
- Since Big Bugs! was free with Zoo admission, we do not have exact numbers for Big Bugs! participants. Onsite audits indicate that 47% of Zoo guests visited the exhibit, which would translate to 263,875 guests.
- A live bug house and exhibit complemented the animatronic bugs and featured 38 species, which zoo keepers also used to create close encounters for guests each day.
- A Minnesota theatre company, “Puppets and People,” was commissioned to create an original production called Big Bug Buppet Labs, which was offered on 42 days throughout the summer for the public. The street-theatre style work offered a fun, creative look at ant social lives; adaptive behaviors of bugs; and defensive strategies of bugs.
- Interpretive graphics supported the story of unique insect adaptations, social lives, and endangered insects (including many right here in Minnesota).
- Larger than life educational photo opportunities included a giant spider web, a large dead log, and an enormous monarch caterpillar.
- Reimagined the Monarch Village as an interpretive station for volunteers, added new interpretive materials for their programs, and Zoo staff trained volunteers to do demonstrations with live insects from the Bug House.
Hanifl Family Wild Woods
- Construction is on track for a summer 2015 opening.
- Privately raised funds for this major new Minnesota Zoo amenity have been secured and cover more than 85% of the total project cost.
- October 2014 attendance at the Zoo was 69,718, which was 14% above projected attendance and 10% above October 2013 attendance.
- Guest feedback for associated events was extremely positive and participation in special programs was high.
For programs and development of the Minnesota Zoological Garden and to provide access and education related to programs on the cultural heritage of Minnesota
Outcomes for FY16 include:
• New interpretive elements created for the Wells Fargo Family Farm, Tiger Lair, Minnesota Trail and other areas across the Zoo.
• More than 84,600 guests visited the Butterfly Garden.
• The Butterfly Garden provided program content and curricular focus for a number of summer zoo camps, serving students ages three to 17.
• More than 700 bird shows offered to approximately 175,000 Zoo guests throughout the year.
• October 2015 attendance was more than 75,000, the highest October attendance in more than five years.
• Expanded Tropical Beach Party sandbox promotion to 2 weeks, including 3 weekends.
• 166,600 guests visited the DINOS! Exhibit which was open from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
• More than 1700 scheduled “Close Encounters” offered along with another 2,000-3,000 informal keeper chats.
• More than 110,000 participants connected with engaging animals through these Encounters
• Behind-the-scenes facilities housing animals used in the program upgraded.
Educating Minnesotans about conservation issues and how they can engage in conservation activities is critical to the stewardship of our State’s natural resources. Legacy funds have been used to create new programs and expand existing activities to bring zoo guests and citizens statewide in close contact with animals and the ways in which people can participate in conservation in their own backyard. Program highlights include:
The Zoo uses interpretive exhibits and programs to help guests connect with our education and conservation initiatives. Interpretive exhibits include graphics, interactive elements, audio visual components, sculpture, art, and tactile experiences. Interpretive programs include volunteer-led activities, animal demonstrations, animal feeding/training presentations, and tours.
Legacy funding allows the Zoo to open the Aveda Butterfly Garden—a 3,000 square foot outdoor immersion butterfly hoop house that is heavily planted with annual and perennial flowers and stocked with farm-raised North American native and migrant tropical butterflies. In FY16, it was open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day, weather permitting. It is free with Zoo admission.
Bird Show Conservation Education
Soaring hawks, majestic owls, and many more rare and beautiful feathered creatures delight and educate Zoo guests at the Wings Financial World of Birds Show. We emphasize the natural abilities of birds, the diversity of species on our planet, and the importance of natural habitats. This program provides one of the Zoo’s most tangible ways for guests to connect with animals and learn about their role in conservation efforts. Legacy funds have allowed the Zoo to increase the number of bird shows offered from mid-October through April, at no additional charged to guests.
With Legacy funding, the Zoo implemented and promoted programs to increase attendance, particularly in the off-season. The Zoo implemented a month-long, zoo-wide celebration of fall at the Minnesota Zoo—touting the beauty of the Zoo as its old growth oak forests change color and featuring Halloween-themed activities for families. Winter activities included creation of a giant sandbox for toddlers while summer brought a return of Dinos!
Close Encounters is an extremely popular special onsite Zoo program that allows Zoo staff to offer daily zookeeper-led interpretive talks involving guest “encounters” with Zoo animals. These animals are trained to be comfortable in public settings and therefore serve as ambassadors for their species in the wild. Legacy funding supports the staff and facilities needed for this program. Close Encounters staff also provide animal enrichment and behavior training activities throughout the day, involving Zoo guests in these activities whenever possible.