With 700 animals and a beautiful lush landscape just minutes away from downtown, it’s easy to see why the Birmingham Zoo is one of Alabama’s most well-loved attractions. While the zoo serves as a fun experience for visitors, many may not know it doubles as a nonprofit, focusing on local, and global wildlife conservation efforts.
Terra Manasco, the Birmingham Zoo’s Conservation and Special Projects Manager says the zoo’s nonprofit status helps to further their primary mission, Inspiring Passion to Conserve the Natural World.
Manasco says this mission aligns with the goals of other conservation nongovernmental organizations as well as a variety of state and federal conservation agencies.
“Our status as a not-for-profit has a positive impact on our relationships with our local and global partners, assuring these partners that the zoo is a mission-driven organization dedicated to conservation,” Mansaco said.
One of these local partnerships is with the Alabama Department of Conservation’s Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. The Birmingham Zoo closely works with the AWFF to further both of the organizations’ missions in practical ways. From signage and messaging on zoo grounds to sending their staff on field research missions with AWFF staff, the zoo aims to increase the public’s awareness of Alabama’s astounding biological diversity and work to conserve the state’s rich natural heritage.
“We have many cooperative conservation projects with AWFF, including projects that benefit American Black Bears, Golden Eagles, Gopher Tortoises, Eastern Indigo Snakes and more,” Manasco stated.
Additionally, the zoo often has the opportunity to work with universities and municipalities, extending their reach into a variety of statewide initiatives focusing on animal and land conservation.
Samil Baker, the Birmingham Zoo’s Manager of Public Relations and Social Media, says the zoo is both a fun and educational experience for all who visit.
“We continue to be a place for families to gather and create lasting memories while engaging with the natural world around them,” Baker said
Manasco echoed Baker’s comments when she stated that the zoo takes their commitment to their mission and hopefully “inspires a conservation ethic in our guests as well.”
In addition to their ongoing conservation efforts, Baker says the Birmingham Zoo is in the process of updating and renewing their facilities. The zoo is entering the second phase of their Renew the Zoo Capital Campaign.
Baker says that phase two includes, “the front entrance Arrival Experience, a large gift shop, membership office, the Hugh Kaul Plaza, the Altec/Styslinger Learning Center, a sensory room, first aid station, modern restrooms, administrative offices, overlook decks and event rental spaces.”
The zoo is set to host a grand opening celebration for the New Arrival Experience and Welcome Plaza on Saturday, June 29 from 9am until 6pm.
For more details about this event or other zoo happenings visit the Birmingham Zoo’s website at birminghamzoo.com or Facebook page @BirminghamZoo.