Minnesota Zoo Celebrating 35 Years May 18 & 19, 2013

Minnesota Zoo Celebrating 35 Years May 18 & 19, 2013


Kelly Lessard

Public Relations Manager





35-year Facebook “Making Wild Memories” Contest Launches

Celebration Weekend: May 18 & 19, 2013


Apple Valley, MINN – February 13, 2013 – This year, the Minnesota Zoo is celebrating 35

years of connecting people, animals and the natural world. The official anniversary date is

May 22, 2013. A celebration weekend will be held May 18 & 19.


Planning of the “new zoo” began over 45 years ago. In the 1960s, local conservationists

began lobbying for an expansive zoo facility that would not only feature species native

to Minnesota, but also animals in naturalistic settings and outdoor exhibits. When

Dakota County donated the Apple Valley parcel to the state in 1970, organizers had

the space they needed to build the large exhibits they envisioned. Compared with the

layouts and exhibits of most North American zoos at the time, this was a radical



After years of dreaming, discussion, planning, and construction, the Minnesota

Zoological Garden opened on May 22, 1978. Since it opened, the Zoo has welcomed

more than 36 million guests, has become a leader in tiger conservation, has won

numerous awards for its innovative and cutting-edge exhibits, and has become the

largest environmental learning center in the state.


“Thirty-five years ago the Minnesota Zoo opened, emphatically embodying a new vision for

what zoos could be: centers of conservation and education, exhibiting animals in dynamic

naturalistic habitats that highlight the imperative to conserve wild animals and wild places,”

said Zoo Director/CEO Lee Ehmke. “We're gratified that we have been able to stay true to

that original vision, while becoming one of the state's most popular and treasured



As part of the Zoo’s 35 year celebration, a “Making Wild Memories” Facebook contest is

now underway (, and a “Wall of History” is on display in Discovery

Bay, featuring a great compilation of conservation and education highlights and a timeline

of notable accomplishments.


Did you Know?

· More than 4,300 animals now live at the Minnesota Zoo. In 1978, 1,200 animals

were residents.

· The Zoo has a statewide annual economic impact of more than $146 million.

· More than 1.3 million guests visit the Zoo annually. Since 2005, Zoo attendance

has increased by 40 percent.

· More than 1,100 individuals volunteered at the Zoo in 2012, contributing more

than 122,000 hours.

· The Zoo works locally, nationally, and internationally—with a variety of partners—

on conservation issues, species recovery and reintroduction projects.

· Zoomobile, the education, outreach program, has traveled more than 750,000

miles since1978.


This Summer at the Minnesota Zoo

To continue its 35th anniversary celebration, the Minnesota Zoo is bringing back two popular

exhibits - Africa! and Dinosaurs!...Two Adventures. One Place. The dual exhibits are

sponsored by Think Mutual Bank. Guests will travel half-way across the world and into the

heart of the African savannah, complete with giraffes, ostrich, bongos, wildebeest, addax

and guinea fowl. With the option to hand-feed giraffes, guests will feel like they’re on safari!

Going back in time 65 million years, Dinosaurs! roar is louder than ever with 20 larger-than-life

animatronic dinosaurs, featuring the ever popular Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus,

Brachiosaurus and many more.


The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. For

more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit The Minnesota Zoo is an

accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an

institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).




13000 Zoo Boulevard Apple valley, mn 55124 952.431.9200 800.366.7811 MNZOO.ORG