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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Zoo raising money to add attractions

 •  Map: Zoo improvements

By James Gonser
Urban Honolulu Writer

A family of white-handed gibbons hanging by long outstretched arms watched with mild interest as dignitaries gathered just outside their confine yesterday to launch the Honolulu Zoo Society's $5.8 million capital campaign drive to improve the animals' lives and visitors' experience.

The Honolulu Zoo, home to this Sumatran tiger, aims to raise $5.8 million for renovations to make the park the "jewel in the crown of Waikiki."

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

A costumed gorilla presented zoo officials with a $1 million pledge shaped like a giant banana from the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the first major gift toward making the zoo "world class."

"We see the zoo not just as the kind of diamond in the rough it is now, but a jewel in the crown of Waikiki," said Sharon Weiner, chairwoman of the campaign drive "Keepers of the Future."

So far, $1.9 million has been pledged for new exhibits and improvements, including:

  • A Discovery Zone to include an education building, amphitheater, interactive animal center and the Rainforest Adventure Camp Playground.
  • The Animal Health Center, providing a new in-house, state-of-the-art veterinary clinic that will also serve as a quarantine center for new animals.
  • The Hawaiian Island Experience, featuring native animals, plants and culture.
  • A new entrance to create a visually compelling atmosphere.

"The zoo is not getting bigger," said director Ken Redman. "It's getting better."

The nene exhibit will be one of the beneficiaries of a multi-million-dollar renovation of the 42-acre Honolulu Zoo.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

The 42-acre city-operated park has 1,250 animals, 75 employees and 560,000 visitors a year. For every dollar donated, the city is adding $4 toward the project.

The City Council had been discussing plans to move the zoo to Kalaeloa, but City Councilman John DeSoto said the investments and improvements planned in Waikiki make a move to the Leeward Coast anytime soon "out of the question."

Other contributors include Dr. Mark Bogart ($250,000), The Atherton Family Foundation ($150,000), McInerny Foundation ($100,000), The Cooke Foundation ($100,000) and Sandy and Michael Hartley ($100,000).

To contribute, call 926-3191.

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.

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