By Jeffrey Buck
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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) board members, donors, staff and guests gathered at the Detroit Zoo yesterday evening to ceremoniously “break the ice” on the Polk Penguin Conservation Center (PPCC). The groundbreaking event marks the beginning of an 18-month development period for the largest project the Zoo has ever undertaken.
DZS Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan and Vice Chairman Stephen Polk – whose family donated the $10 million lead gift for the project – swung ice axes at a wall of ice, which shattered on impact to reveal an ice-carved rendering of the PPCC.
“We are thrilled to be moving forward with our plans for this amazing place for people and penguins that will be centered on conservation. It will be an extraordinary and unique experience for our guests,” said Kagan.
Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expeditions and epic crossings of the Drake Passage, the facility’s dramatic exterior design suggests a tabular iceberg with a crevasse and waterfall. The interior experience will feature effects such as arctic blasts, iceberg “calving”, waves and snow – evoking the harsh and visceral ice world of Antarctica. The entry plaza will include a water feature that will be a splash area in the summer and a skating rink in winter.
Kagan, Polk and other DZS leaders visited Antarctica to gain firsthand knowledge of and immersion in the Antarctic environment in order to bring the authentic polar experience from concept to reality. In addition, world-renowned polar ecologist and penguin expert Dr. Bill Fraser – who gave a talk on penguins and the impact of climate change at the Detroit Zoo’s Ford Education Center following the ceremony – served as a design consultant on the project.
One of the most dramatic features of the $29.5-million, 33,000-square-foot facility will be a penguin “deep dive” with views above and below water as the birds dive and soar through a chilled 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area. That feature, deeper and larger than the aquatic area at the Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life, will allow visitors to observe penguins as they deep-water dive – something that is almost impossible to see, even in the wild.
The PPCC will be home to about 80 penguins of four species: rockhopper, macaroni and king – which currently reside in the Detroit Zoo’s original Penguinarium – as well as gentoo, a species which will be new to the Zoo. The habitat will ensure an optimal environment for the penguins’ welfare and encourage wild behavior, from diving and porpoising to nesting and rearing young.
The DZS also unveiled an official penguin mascot that joins Junior Z and the Zooper Heroes, costumed characters that greet visitors at Detroit Zoo events. The penguin joins two Junior Z zookeeper mascots and the cape-wearing polar bear and giraffe Zooper Heroes.
The PPCC was designed by Jones & Jones – architects of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as the Detroit Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life and National Amphibian Conservation Center – and by Albert Kahn Associates, architects of the Zoo’s Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex. DeMaria/Wharton-Smith has been named general contractor on the project. The facility will be built on a 2-acre site just inside the Zoo’s entrance and is slated to open in late 2015.
More than 100 design, engineering and construction jobs will be created and sustained for the development period of the PPCC. With an associated annual increase of about 250,000 visitors, it is estimated that the Detroit Zoo’s revenue will increase by at least $2 million annually. The new attraction is expected to have a regional economic impact of as much as $10 million dollars per year, adding to the current $100-million economic impact the Zoo already has on the region.
In addition to the $10-million grant from the Polk Family Fund – the largest gift in the history of the DZS – the William Davidson Foundation Fund has committed $3 million toward the development of the PPCC. Twelve gifts of $100,000 or more have set the pace for contributions from individuals and corporate and family foundations. The DZS Board has committed $8.5 million, bringing funds secured for the landmark project to $25.2 million and leaving $4.3 million yet to be raised.
For more information or to make a philanthropic investment in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, click here.
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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The William Davidson Foundation Fund has made a $3 million grant intention to the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) to support the development of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo. Construction of the $26 million facility will begin in the spring near the Zoo’s entrance.
“This very generous grant will help us create an extraordinary conservation center of international significance for iconic polar animals – penguins of Antarctica. The center will highlight that incredible ice continent and the dramatic effect of global climate change,” said Ron Kagan, DZS executive director and CEO.
“The Detroit Zoo is known regionally, nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of animal welfare, science education and visitor experience,” said Jonathan Aaron, president, William Davidson Foundation. “Research and personal experience tell us that having strong cultural destinations, like the zoo, promote the region’s growth and vitality. We are pleased to support this worthwhile and exciting project.”
More than 100 design, engineering and construction jobs will be created and sustained for the estimated two-year development period of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, and the facility will add several full-time employees to the DZS staff. With an associated annual increase of 100,000 visitors, the new attraction is expected to have a regional economic impact of several million dollars per year, adding to the $100 million economic impact the Zoo already has on the region.
Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expeditions and epic crossings of the Drake Passage, the facility’s dramatic exterior design will evoke a tabular iceberg. The interior experience will feature 4-D effects such as arctic blasts, waves and snow, and will include a penguin “deep dive” with views above and below water as the birds dive and soar through a chilled 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area.
For more information or to make a philanthropic investment in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, visit http://dzoo.org/pcc.
The William Davidson Foundation, a family foundation, was established in 2005 in Detroit to honor its founder’s memory by continuing his philosophy of giving. It is committed to efforts to preserve and enhance Jewish life in the United States and abroad. In addition, the foundation is funding efforts to improve the economic prosperity of its home community in southeastern Michigan in order to make the region an even more desirable place to work and to live.
The William Davidson Foundation established the William Davidson Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in 2013.
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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoological Society is encouraging Southeast Michigan residents to hop to it and join the local chapter of FrogWatch USA. The “citizen science” program teaches volunteers how to identify frogs and toads by their breeding calls and gather and record data that supports a national network.
“We already know about the extinctions and crises amphibians face globally, but data is deficient in our own backyards. This program allows us to keep better records and monitor our native species for any changes that may occur,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Amphibians Marcy Sieggreen.
FrogWatch remaining training classes for 2014 will be held Sunday, Feb. 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Thursday, March 6, 5 to 9 p.m., at the Detroit Zoo’s Ford Education Center. For more information or to register, contact Associate Curator of Amphibians Rebecca Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FrogWatch volunteers choose from locations throughout the tri-county area and monitor the sites for several weeks. Their observations provide valuable insight into whether amphibians in the region are declining or increasing or if new species are being found in areas where they have not been identified before.
More than one-third of the planet’s 6,000 amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, infectious diseases and other factors. FrogWatch is intended to raise awareness of these environmental threats.
FrogWatch USA is a collaborative effort among the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums throughout the U.S. The program allows individuals and families to learn about the wetlands in their communities and to contribute to the conservation of amphibians.
ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) will help stamp out extinction with a Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamp cancellation ceremony and sale at the Detroit Zoo. Representatives from the United States Postal Service (USPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wildlife Without Borders (WWB) program, Detroit Tigers organization and DZS will participate in the ceremony outside the Zoo’s admission gates at 1:30 p.m. today, Friday, May 17, 2013, in observance of Endangered Species Day. There is no charge for admission or parking for the stamp event; however, regular admission and parking fees apply for guests entering the Zoo.
The semipostal stamp, which features the image of an Amur tiger, will be available for sale at the Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo pet adoption event being held today from 2 to 8 p.m. The cost of the stamp is 55 cents – 9 cents more than first-class postage – and proceeds benefit the WWB Multinational Species Conservation Funds for tigers, great apes, rhinos, elephants, and marine turtles.
“We’re delighted to welcome the Detroit Zoo as our newest partner in the metro area. Together with the Zoo, the local post offices and the Detroit Tigers team and family, we will make a difference in protecting some of the most cherished and iconic species that make our world a better place to live,” said Herbert Raffaelle, Chief of the USFWS Division of International Conservation.
“This stamp helps to create awareness of vanishing species and provides an excellent way for the community to support major conservation programs for some of the most endangered wildlife on the planet,” said DZS Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan.
In addition, the USPS is creating special collector’s envelopes with the cancelled stamp – called cachets – featuring images of marine turtles as well as the Detroit Zoo’s Amur tigers, western lowland gorillas, white rhinoceroses and retired Asian elephants. The cachets will sell for $5 each or $20 for a set of five and will also be available during the Meet Your Best Friend event.
Animal enrichment and zookeeper talks will take place at the Zoo’s great ape (10:30 a.m.), rhino (12 noon) and tiger (2 p.m.) habitats on May 17 to educate visitors about the plight of these iconic species in the wild.
The Save Vanishing Species stamp marks the fourth semipostal stamp issued by the USPS and the first issued to raise funds for wildlife conservation. The stamp was introduced on September 20, 2011, and is available in post offices across the United States and online. To date, more than 20 million stamps have been sold, raising more than $2.1 million for the international conservation of wildlife.
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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoo will host its inaugural GreenFest on Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21, 2013, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Zoo-wide event is dedicated to celebrating Earth Day and educating Zoo visitors about environmental conservation.
Each GreenFest guest who turns in a Green Zoo survey – which can be downloaded at detroitzoo.org beginning April1 – will receive a reduced admission price of $8, parking not included. Admission for Detroit Zoological Society members is free, but members are encouraged to participate in the survey. Green Zoo surveys will also be available at the admission gates during GreenFest.
GreenFest will feature earth-friendly craft projects, an endangered species and green scavenger hunt, a 30-foot rock climbing wall (weather permitting), family yoga classes and animal enrichment. Off Broadway Productions will present a mini-musical about recycling at the Events Pavilion at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.
A Green Games Gallery will be hosted by the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) Green Team conservation group, including games using recycled materials, storytelling and educational displays. The event will also include hands-on science experiments by the University of Detroit Chemistry Club, composting demonstrations by SOCWA (Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority) and exhibits by local conservation groups. All GreenFest activities are free with Zoo admission.
A “Save Vanishing Species” semipostal stamp-cancellation ceremony will take place on Saturday, and the stamp will be available for sale throughout the weekend. Proceeds will benefit the Wildlife Without Borders Multinational Species Conservation Funds administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Anyone who turns in a used cell phone for recycling between April 7 and April 21 at Noodles & Company restaurants in Livonia, Northville, Rochester, Royal Oak or Troy (two locations) to benefit the Detroit Zoo will receive a free appetizer and a voucher for one complimentary admission to the Zoo’s 4-D Theater or Simulator Ride in the Wild Adventure Zone during GreenFest. Cell phones will also be collected at the event.
GreenFest is supported by DTE Energy, Ford, The Home Depot, IKEA, Noodles & Company, United Healthcare Community Plan and Whole Foods Market.
GreenFest is an initiative of the DZS Greenprint, a comprehensive strategic plan to refine and improve facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs and improve green literacy in the community.
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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A new Detroit Zoo mobile application makes getting a daily dose of Vitamin Z easier than ever. The Zoo’s new and improved smartphone app helps guests plan their visit, find their way, learn more about their favorite animals and even go on a wildlife scavenger hunt. The app is available for both the iPhone and Android.
“The new app allows users to plan their visit as well as enrich their experience once they arrive,” said Detroit Zoological Society CEO and Executive Director Ron Kagan. “One exciting feature allows kids to become ‘secret agents’, using their imagination and special clues to discover the Detroit Zoo in a whole new way.”
Kids can explore the Zoo via an interactive scavenger hunt with the Detroit Zoo’s mascots, Junior Z and the Zooper Heroes. By checking in at various locations throughout the Zoo and answering questions about the animals, youngsters can complete “Z-missions” and become Zooper Heroes as well.
Other key features of the redesigned Detroit Zoo app include:
• A demo with instructions on using the app
• A map featuring clickable locations, filtering and details about each location
• Information about upcoming Zoo events
• Reminders that can be set in the phone’s calendar through the app
• A searchable database of every animal, habitat, attraction and facility
• A “Z-tector” QR code scanner for exclusive content, including video of zookeepers talking about the animals
The new app retains some of the core features of the former app, including Detroit Zoo hours, pricing information, the ability to purchase tickets and memberships and a GPS-enabled map with a “Near Me” function to help find habitats, attractions, restrooms, concessions and gift shops.
The new app was designed for the Detroit Zoo by Detroit-based Doner. “We wanted to develop an app that was not only practical, but that would also completely enhance the visitor experience,” said Doner Co-CEO and Chief Creative Officer Rob Strasberg. “The unique functions of this new and improved mobile app provide Zoo guests of all ages with another fun and engaging way to get their dose of Vitamin Z.”
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