Minnesota Zoo Media Contact

If you are a member of the press, please contact:Kelly Lessard
Public Relations
Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN 55124
952.431.9217 direct
952.431.9300 fax
kelly.lessard@state.mn.us

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
2:45 media arrival time at Guest Services desk (3 p.m. program)

Apple Valley, MN – July 7, 2014:  In its on-going efforts to encourage children and their families to get outside and explore nature, the Minnesota Zoo is breaking ground on a new nature-based play area, “Hanifl Family Wild Woods,” on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Hanifl Family Wild Woods, scheduled to open in July, 2015, features multiple, natural play elements in a currently-undeveloped, 30,000-square-foot upland wooded area adjacent to the Zoo’s new Conservation Carousel. Once completed, the area will feature boulder climbs and caves, a climbing horse, log pile climb, mazes, slides, tree top towers with bridges, monkey bars, and more. It will provide the perfect destination for kids to climb, dig, explore, get wet, and discover the extraordinary world of nature. Studies show that interacting with nature fosters creativity, confidence and curiosity in children who, in a technology-saturated culture, have fewer opportunities for naturebased, outdoor play.

According to Executive Director Melissa Lindsay of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation, the fundraising partner of the Minnesota Zoo, Hanifl Family Wild Woods is primarily privately funded by four donors and exemplifies the best of the public/private partnership that exists between the State of Minnesota and the private sector. “As a state agency, the Minnesota Zoo is fortunate to receive support from our State, as well as from individual, corporate, and foundation donors. It is this unique partnership that has helped propel the Zoo to worldleading
status.” Lindsay will also be joined by family members of the three individual donors along with representatives from the General Mills Foundation, which also supported Woodland Adventure, the Zoo’s popular north woods-themed playground.

Once open, Hanifl Family Wild Woods and the Zoo’s education department will offer new programs that provide opportunities for children and families to explore the wonders of nature both at the Zoo, in the site’s undeveloped woodlands, wetlands, and prairies, and in their own backyards. Programs will encourage participants to become more comfortable and continue to venture out into nature on their own, reflecting the Zoo’s mission to connect people, animals, and the natural world.

The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. Open year round, the Zoo is one of the State’s premier cultural attractions serving 1.3 million visitors annually. With a mission to connect people, animals and the natural world, the Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Learn more at mnzoo.org or by calling 952.431.9500.