Northwestern Mutual gives $1 million to Milwaukee County Zoo’s Adventure Africa exhibit

Zoo has raised $17.3 million toward $25 million campaign goal

A rendering of the new elephant watering hole.

Last updated on May 14th, 2019 at 05:03 am

The Northwestern Mutual Foundation is making a four-year $1 million commitment to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s $25 million capital campaign to fund the new Adventure Africa complex at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

A rendering of the new elephant watering hole.

The Adventure Africa project will provide new homes for the zoo’s elephants, hippos and rhinos. The development, which is currently under construction, will occupy about 25 percent of the zoo’s existing footprint, making it the largest physical change to the zoo at its current location. It’s expected to open to the public in spring 2019.

Zoological Society leaders announced last month that the capital campaign had raised more than $16.7 million during its quiet phase. That figure factored in the support from Northwestern Mutual.

On Thursday, the Zoological Society said additional donations over the last month have brought the fundraising total to $17.3 million.

Funding from Northwestern Mutual will also support a classroom space located within the zoo’s elephant care center in Adventure Africa. In addition to educational programming, the space, called the Northwestern Mutual Learning Loft, will also be used for gatherings and small events.

“We are excited to have fostered such a great relationship with Northwestern Mutual through the years,” said Jodi Gibson, president and CEO, Zoological Society of Milwaukee. “We’re thrilled with their support of Adventure Africa, which will include new homes for the elephants, African hoofstock, hippos and rhinos.”

Northwestern Mutual announced Thursday that this year’s $1.4 million in grants will be disbursed among eight local cultural organizations to support facility renovations, outreach programming and exhibit refurbishment. The organizations include Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Discovery World, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee County Museum, Summerfest, Milwaukee County Zoo and United Performing Arts Fund.

“There are so many reasons Milwaukee is a great place to live and visit, and our city’s attractions play a huge role in this,” said Eric Christophersen, president of Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “Our partnerships with these organizations are driven by a desire for residents and visitors to connect with the community through Milwaukee’s area attractions.”

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