No Longer the “New Zoo”
Minnesota Zoo Celebrates 35 Years
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 (facebook.com/mnzoo), 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?
This Summer at the Minnesota Zoo
- More than 4,300 animals now live at the Minnesota Zoo. In 1978, 1,200 animals
- 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
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 mnzoo.org. 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).