Because of you, the Minnesota Zoo continues to be a critical asset to Minnesotans, the diverse ecosystems within our state, and wildlife around the world. Your support of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation has allowed the Zoo to serve our community and fulfill our mission.

But further, you’re helping the Zoo look to the future. Now visitors from around the globe can experience a whole new way to connect with nature on the Treetop Trail, creating countless wildlife advocates. You’re helping our world-class veterinary and care staff accomplish the seemingly impossible through innovative healthcare solutions. And you’re inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders right here on our campus through educational programming that gets students involved in solving real Zoo problems.

By building a strong foundation for the future, we are better prepared to connect people, animals, and the natural world to save wildlife.

We thank you for choosing the Minnesota Zoo Foundation and investing in our mission. We are truly grateful for your efforts and those of our board members, state representatives, volunteers, and employees who advocate tirelessly to ensure wildlife thrives in Minnesota and beyond. On behalf of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation and the Minnesota Zoo, we thank you.

John Frawley
Director, Minnesota Zoo
President, Minnesota Zoo Foundation

Joe Ravens
Chair, Minnesota Zoo Foundation Board

I love donating to the Minnesota Zoo! It sounds simple to say, but it means the world to me. Not only do I know my current and future donations are going to fantastic conservation programs, but I also get the honor and privilege of seeing what my donations can do first hand. As a volunteer, my role is to be a Zoo liaison, assist guests and staff, and to provide education and interpretation. Changes around the Zoo, to current and future programs, or conservation efforts are made possible by each donation. And changes to any one of those things is something I speak to guests about and I have pride knowing I helped make it possible. It’s a very humbling position to be in and I’m incredibly thankful I get to be a part of a fantastic organization. Not only as a volunteer, but as an individual who cares about our connection to animals and the natural world to save wildlife.

- Maria Friedges, Minnesota Zoo Volunteer and Friend of the Minnesota Zoo Foundation donor

The Pathway to the Future

Just like with plants and animals, attractions at the Zoo go through their own lifecycles. What was once a bustling monorail high above the Zoo’s exhibits eventually gave way to unsustainable repairs, leading to the monorail’s closure in 2013.

The monorail served as a way to connect people more deeply with the natural world around them. Using popular technology of the time, the monorail twisted and turned through the Zoo campus while visitors oohed and aahed from behind the glass.

But now the monorail has entered a new phase as the Treetop Trail. The windows have broken away, the metal capsule disappearing to reveal a sleek 1.25-mile looped pathway where visitors can explore freely, the wind in their face, the smell of pine in the air, and the sounds of wildlife just feet away. The Treetop Trail takes the monorail experience to new heights by providing a truly immersive experience that will connect people more deeply than before to the world around them.

The Minnesota Zoo Foundation was instrumental in providing the funding for the Treetop Trail and demonstrating the community’s desire in bringing the project forward. With the addition of the Treetop Trail, the Foundation and its donors have created a solid foundation that will allow the Zoo to inspire a whole new generation of wildlife advocates.

As the Zoo and Foundation continue to focus on our mission of connecting people with the natural world, we’re finding new and innovative ways like the Treetop Trail to do so. We look forward to continuing to partner with conservation-minded individuals and organizations in our community to better our collective future.

We support the Zoo’s mission to save wildlife and we support educating this and future generations. This has been a family endeavor since the Zoo’s inception and being members of the Circle of Life Society fosters that ambition.

- Arnold and Jean London, Director’s Circle and Circle of Life donors

Saving a Tiger Cub's Eyesight

Through a shared commitment to beautify the outdoors and educate on the importance of conservation, The Toro Company and the Minnesota Zoo have established a longstanding partnership centered around enriching the environment for all to enjoy. It's a privilege to support an organization providing such value to the communities we both serve.

-Marnie Wells, President of The Toro Foundation

Educating the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

Every year the Minnesota Zoo Foundation funds the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge at the Minnesota Zoo. Bringing STEM, youth, and the Zoo together, the challenge aims to engage students in problem solving to address real challenges the Zoo is facing.

Students from elementary to high school participate through their school and are given a current Zoo problem. From designing an enrichment activity, to building a model of a renovated animal exhibit, the problem challenges students to use their science and math knowledge, creativity, problem solving, and research skills during the engineering design process to best solve the problem and present a solution.

In the 2022-2023 school year, the program engaged both in person and virtually more than 5,000 students and 120 teachers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia, and even Australia.

“We’re moving beyond borders of the classroom and engaging as real scientists at an adult level. So they go from start to finish looking at a problem, coming up with a plan, creating a solution, and remaking it and improving on their design just as a real engineer would,” says Kelli Ellickson, a past teacher participant.

Ensuring that our next generation has STEM opportunities at a young age is one of the ways the Minnesota Zoo Foundation is helping to save wildlife. When we can engage young students in STEM, they’re more likely to make conscious decisions as they interact with our world and more likely to pursue careers that work to better our environment.

“We’re trying to get kids to learn how do we take the world we have and make it better for tomorrow. And that’s what we’re really hoping to inspire all of our kids to do, which this project does very nicely,” says Amy Benson, a past teacher participant.

Look for the 10th anniversary of the ZOOMS STEM Design Challenge in the 2023-2024 school year.


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