-- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo reaches $13.5 million Encounter Africa capital campaign goal thanks to generous gifts --

May 3, 2012, Colorado Springs, CO – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is pleased to announce it officially reached its $13.5 million fundraising goal for Encounter Africa, the zoo’s biggest project to date. Fundraising efforts began in the fall of 2009, led by capital campaign co-chairs Scott Blackmun, CEO, United States Olympic Committee, and Wendel Torres, Beckrich Construction. Four generous gifts from private donors jumpstarted the capital campaign – two $2 million donations and two $1 million donations. The campaign culminated with major gifts from The Anschutz Foundation in Denver and El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs. El Pomar contributed a total of $1.5 million to the campaign, which included $500,000 from the Ackerman Fund and $300,000 from the Hambrick Fund.

“Without these final gifts from El Pomar and The Anschutz Foundation, as well as the other private donations and grants we received, Encounter Africa would not be a reality,” said Blackmun. “Because of their support, millions of people will experience the wonder and awe of wildlife in spectacular habitats in the years to come.”

"The trustees of El Pomar are impressed with the zoo's efforts to continually improve, expand and innovate," said El Pomar Foundation Chairman and CEO William J. Hybl. "This campaign is evidence of that desire to take a treasured community asset and make it even better. As a longstanding partner with the zoo, we are pleased to take a leading role in bringing the Encounter Africa exhibit to life."

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has been considered a community treasure since it opened in 1926. Now the zoo sees hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

“Unlike most zoos, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo doesn’t receive any tax support, so we rely on the generosity of the community to help us grow,” said Cheyenne Mountain Zoo President/CEO Bob Chastain. “We feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of such a tight-knit community that supports our mission and recognizes the value we provide.”

Click here for photos from today’s announcement.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo would also like to thank the following foundations for their generous gifts of $25,000 or more to Encounter Africa:

The Mary K. Chapman Foundation

Gates Family Foundation
Harold W. and Mary Louise Shaw Foundation

MJR Foundation

Kirkpatrick Family Fund
Luther T. McCauley Charitable Trust
H. Chase Stone Trust
The Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation

Corundum Foundation

The William H. Donner Foundation and The Donner Fund of the Pikes
Peak Community Foundation
E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation
The Jeffrey and Janet Quay Charitable Foundation

Encounter Africa will provide new homes for Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s African elephants and lions, as well as bring the majestic black rhinoceros back to the zoo. Construction is currently underway on phase two, the outdoor exhibit space.

Encounter Africa Construction Update

Phase 1: Elephant Barn


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s herd of four female elephants moved into their brand new barn in the fall of 2011. Because the area surrounding the new barn is a construction zone, the elephants are currently off exhibit to the general public until the second phase is complete.

Phase 2: Outdoor Exhibit

Fall 2012

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s old elephant barn was demolished in the fall of 2011 and crews are now focusing on the outdoor elephant and meerkat exhibits, including mud wallows, a waterfall, and a bush plane cantilevered from the top of the exhibit for guest viewing. The critically endangered black rhinoceros will also be added to the collection.

Phase 3: Lion Exhibit

Summer 2013

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s pride of African lions will move across the street from their current home to a larger exhibit in Encounter Africa.

Click here for more information about Cheyenne Mountain Zoo's Encounter Africa exhibit.

Click here for photos of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Encounter Africa exhibit.

Click here for b-roll of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s elephants in their new barn.