Phoenix Zoo gets $250,000 donation for 500-seat wildlife amphitheater

Sep 5, 2018, 2:04 PM

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Zoo)...

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Zoo)

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Zoo)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix Zoo is building a state-of-the-art wildlife amphitheater with the help of a $250,000 donation by Thunderbirds Charities.

“We currently have a very small amphitheater that only sits about 50 people,” Bert Castro, Phoenix Zoo/Arizona Center for Nature Conservation president and CEO, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“This amphitheater is going to sit about 10 times that number, so about 500 people.”

The new venue on the Nina Mason Pulliam Children’s Trail will be used to provide wildlife shows and learning experiences for kids and their families.

Castro said the amphitheater is scheduled to be completed in spring of 2019. Housing for about 125 animals that will be part of the amphitheater programming already has been built.

“Our mission is really to provide experiences to people and motivate them to care for the natural world,” he said.

“What better way than to do something like this, to have this place where you can go and see a variety of really cool animals. A lot of the animals will be animals that kids probably would never have an opportunity to see.”

The donation from Thunderbirds Charities was part of the nonprofit zoo’s Pride Campaign, which aims to raise $12.1 million for a variety of projects.

“We really live and die by the generosity of our community, and the community has been so great to us. … Receiving a gift like this really pushes our institution forward,” Castro said.

Thunderbirds Charities is a nonprofit that distributes funds raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament.

The Pride Campaign has raised $7.5 million of its goal, Castro said, with the money going to projects that included a conservation center expansion and giant tortoise and sand cat exhibits.

The zoo is still raising funds for an African exhibit and an elephant expansion.

“This campaign is really focused on upgrading our animal habitats, building new homes for our animals and making the zoo a world-class institution for a world-class city,” Castro said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report.

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Phoenix Zoo gets $250,000 donation for 500-seat wildlife amphitheater