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 Zoo is giving kids and parents more time to go “wild” before the school bell rings by extending Labor Day Weekend hours from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1. On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2, the Zoo will close at 5 p.m.
“There are always new and exciting things to see and do at the Detroit Zoo, and we want to give the community extra time to enjoy them over the Labor Day weekend,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan.
The Zoo’s paid attractions will remain open late this weekend as well, including the Tauber Family Railroad and the Carousel. Visitors can also experience the Wild Adventure Zone – featuring “Happy Feet: Mumble’s Wild Ride” at the Simulator Ride and “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” alternating with “Great Escapes: Life in 4-D” at the 4-D Theater.
With the ZooMORE discounted ticket package for rides and attractions, visitors can experience the 4-D Theater, Simulator Ride, Tauber Family Railroad and Carousel – or any combination – for $12 per person in addition to Zoo admission.
Extra hours also means extra time to check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Ford Education Center, featuring 100 spectacular images from the world’s largest and most prestigious wildlife photography competition. The exhibition runs through Sept. 8 and is free with Zoo admission.
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ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Everyone knows a visit to the Detroit Zoo provides kids with a healthy dose of Vitamin Z, but what happens when they don’t get the recommended amount? The Zoo’s new advertising campaign shows what Vitamin Z deficiency looks like so parents will know how to recognize the symptoms.
In one 30-second television commercial, a mother finds her young son mimicking an anteater by sucking up hors d’oeuvres through a vacuum hose. Another shows a girl attempting to feed leaves to a very tall man, while a third has a boy cutting his sister’s hair into the shape of a lion’s mane. In each case, Vitamin Z deficiency is remedied by a visit to the Detroit Zoo’s anteater, giraffe or lion habitat.
“Kids who visit the Detroit Zoo have been getting their Vitamin Z in record amounts, but there are some who are deficient,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan. “It’s not dangerous or serious – and fortunately it can be cured with frequent visits to the Detroit Zoo.”
The new Vitamin Z commercials are currently airing on local TV stations. To view them, visit www.facebook.com/detroitzoo and click on Videos.
Created by Detroit-based Doner, the Vitamin Z campaign captures the emotions children experience on a visit to the Detroit Zoo. Themed around the iconic nutrition label, the integrated marketing campaign includes TV, radio, outdoor, print, digital, social and mobile elements. All branded elements include the tagline “Vitamin Z. Part of a complete childhood.”
“The new campaign uses the natural curiosity and imagination of children to urge parents to recognize the signs of Vitamin Z deficiency,” said Rob Strasberg, co-CEO, chief creative officer, Doner. “Vitamin Z fills kids of all ages with wonder and awe and allows them to be closer to the animal kingdom – it’s important for them to get enough of it.”
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