JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (October 4, 2021) — Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has announced a five-year, $50 million campaign to make significant improvements to the institution. REZOOVENATION: The Campaign to Inspire will expand wellness-inspired habitats for animal care, grow conservation initiatives, offer improved educational spaces and guest services, and introduce new species.

“At its core, REZOOVENATION is about inspiring the future. We hope that all who come through the Zoo’s gates feel inspired by their experiences among the plants and animals. We have cast a bold vision: we want to welcome Florida visitors and become the #1 zoo in the United States. To accomplish that, we are embarking upon the largest capital campaign in the history of the Zoo,” said Executive Director Tony Vecchio.

The first phase of REZOOVENATION includes the construction of Manatee River, being supported first by $3 million from J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, Honorary Chairs of the campaign. Florida’s most beloved and charismatic species will greet guests entering the Zoo from their new exhibit, paying homage to the vibrant natural world surrounding North Florida. This new firstimpression habitat will solidify the Zoo’s identity as a leader in Florida wildlife conservation and animal wellness.

“The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been a community jewel for decades, and we believe the new Manatee River exhibit with its ‘gentle giants’ will reinforce Northeast Florida’s powerful relationship with our river-based environment,” observed Delores Barr Weaver. “Wayne and I are excited by the REZOOVENATION vision, and we encourage others who share our passion for this iconic attraction to join us in supporting this effort.”

“We have always been grateful for the Weavers’ support, especially now as we look toward the future of the Zoo. Their dedication to Jacksonville is evident and we are proud to be a part of their investment in our community. Announcing this campaign with their lead gift is momentous, and we are confident it will inspire others to join this endeavor,” said Vecchio.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens set the goal to raise $5 million per year from private sources, which will be matched for another $5 million per year thanks to the support of Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville City Council. Other planned improvements through REZOOVENATION include a new lion habitat with a scenic overlook, an expanded and immersive elephant exhibit, and the addition of orangutans in a space with extensive room to climb. To learn more about the campaign and giving, visit jacksonvillezoo.org/rezoovenation.

About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 57th year, the Foundation has assets of $550 million and has made approximately $600 million in grants since 1964. For more information: www.jaxcf.org. 

About Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

For over 100 years, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has aimed to inspire the discovery and appreciation of wildlife through innovative experiences in a caring environment. Starting in 1914 with an animal collection of one red deer fawn, the Zoo now has more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 species of plants, boasting the largest botanical garden in Northeast Florida. The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit organization and a portion of every ticket sold goes to the over 45 conservation initiatives Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports around the world, and here in NE Florida. JZG is proud to be an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information, visit jacksonvillezoo.org.



Media Contact:

Morgan Purvis

Corporate Giving Officer