Louisville, KY., – The Louisville Zoo welcomed over 860,000 guests from 41 states in 2017 — once again being recognized as the #1 attended non-profit attraction in the region. 2017 saw significant births of endangered species and the passing of dearly beloved animal ambassadors like our male African lion Kenya. The Zoo won several prestigious Zoo industry awards and activated the final projects of the Leadership Capital Campaign. Here are just a few Zoo moments from the past 12 months:
- Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak was named an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation inspector of the year in 2017.
- AZA announced that the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund along with the Louisville Zoo and nine other collaborating conservation partners received “Top Honors” in AZA’s 2017 International Conservation Awards competition. This highest level of recognition was awarded to the application titled, Saving One of the World’s Most Charismatic Species: 50 years of Conserving Eastern Gorillas. All ten collaborating partners are AZA-accredited facilities.
- The Louisville Zoo celebrated the significant birth of two maned wolf pups on Valentine’s Day, the first pups to be born at the Zoo in ten years. Guests helped name the pair Cora and Catina. Maned wolves are classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to deforestation and conflict with humans.
- In March, the success of Kindi’s Journey continued with her first birthday celebration. Many guests came out to help the staff celebrate the milestone.
- In April, the Louisville Zoo announced the first Steller’s sea-eagle hatchlings in the Zoo’s 48-year history! Visitors could observe the nest activities via the Zoo’s first nest cam.
- The Zoo welcomed two new gorillas to Gorilla Forest: 35-year-old silverback Casey and 19-year-old Bandia both from the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
- The Zoo completed fundraising efforts on the Leadership Capital Campaign with a total of $14 million raised. Construction on final projects is underway.
- The black-footed ferret was named an AZA SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) species; the Louisville Zoo is one of five Zoos to participating in the Black-Footed Ferret Species Survival Plan and recovery-from-near extinction efforts that started in January 1991.
- September was the month of the monarch butterfly at the Louisville Zoo as the Zoo celebrated its first monarch butterfly release (1,000 butterflies) and became a certified Monarch Waystation. Monarch Waystations provide critical resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their long migration. The Louisville Zoo created a 1,000 sq. ft. outdoor butterfly flight house for native species in the exhibit Butterflies N’ Blooms. In October, the exhibit transformed into the “Not-So Itsy Bitsy” Spider House.
- In 2017, Louisville Zoo became part of the Guinness World Records™ title for the “Largest Display of Origami Elephants.” Zoo guests helped to fold 1,100 origami elephants to send to elephant conservation group 96elephants for their record attempt and to raise awareness of the plight of the African elephant. The previous Guinness record for the largest display of origami elephants was 33,764. Participants created 78,564 origami elephants shattering the record and exceeding the goal all the while raising awareness for this precious species
- There were 900 students served through School at the Zoo, a weeklong intensive program at the Zoo; 720 of those students were granted free tuition.
- Over 8,000 citizens enjoyed the Louisville Zoo utilizing their Cultural Pass in partnership with Louisville Metro Government, Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) and Funds for the Arts.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).