SAN ANTONIO – In 2021, San Antonio Zoo announced a new entrance that would soon greet visitors as the first phase of the zoo's master plan. In 2022, the zoo surprised the community by announcing that gorillas would return shortly after as part of the same phase. Now, the zoo proudly announces that an event center will be the third piece of phase 1 of its master plan expansion.
After investing over $80 million into the zoo over the last eight years, the complete picture of phase 1 of the zoo's master plan is now clear.
That plan includes a new entrance and plaza, the return of gorillas with a world-class habitat under design, and an event center that will be available for galas, luncheons, weddings, and other special events. The cost of phase 1 of the zoo's master plan is approximately $67 million. The zoo's new entrance is already under construction and is scheduled to open in November of this year, with the gorilla habitat and event center opening in early 2025.
"San Antonio Zoo is the perfect place to host an event - however, we have never had a facility that could host large numbers indoors or in one place," said Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo. "This new event center will allow the zoo to continue to grow our event business and the revenues will help support our conservation and educational efforts."
The event center is being funded 100% by donors. The entrance and gorilla habitat is being funded by 2022 voter-approved bond funds, Midtown TIRZ funds and donations to its capital campaign, Generation Zoo. The zoo provides $47 million of the total projected cost of the $67 million overall price tag, primarily through donations. The zoo has reached 75% of its fundraising goal for Generation Zoo Phase 1, but it isn't too late to be part of the plan. Those interested in donating, please email the zoo's Development department at email@example.com.
"I have been inspired by the support for the Generation Zoo fundraising campaign. We have received some of the largest and most transformational gifts in our zoo's 109-year history," said Julie Gross, Chief Development Officer at San Antonio Zoo. "Our donors share our passion for this project, and many have told us their gift to Generation Zoo has been the largest philanthropic gift they have ever given. We have a long way to go to meet our goal, but at the same time, we are thrilled at the momentum and the 'want' of philanthropists and corporations in South Texas to get involved."
The new event center will sit on top of the quarry walls overlooking the zoo, with perhaps the most unique event space view ever created. Specifically, visitors will be overlooking gorillas and lions in the foreground, giraffes, and the entire African Savanna of the zoo in the background, and in the distance, an unobstructed view of the downtown San Antonio skyline will serve as a backdrop.
The event center will have a capacity of approximately 500 people with the flexibility to expand by opening exterior window walls. The building will be equipped with professional A/V and all the amenities needed to host galas and other events. A large commercial kitchen will serve as the centralized kitchen for zoo catering events throughout the zoo. Visitors will access the event center directly from Hildebrand Avenue. The support building will feature administrative offices, a bridal room and even a board room that can be rented out for smaller meetings.
A world's first feature tying the event center to the gorilla habitat is what the zoo is currently calling Silverback Peak. This tower element will allow gorillas to climb from an open-air gorilla habitat and actually visit an event at the event center at the top of the cliff wall.
"There will be no other event center like this in the world," said Morrow. "Sitting on top of the historic quarry walls, the views, the gorilla interaction and more are symbolic of our drive to be known for quality, creativity, innovation, and world-class design in everything we do."
For inquiries on reserving the rooftop event space of the new entrance beginning in 2024 or the quarry event center in 2025, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About San Antonio Zoological Society
San Antonio Zoological Society was established in 1929 and is a nonprofit organization committed to securing a future for wildlife. The society operates San Antonio Zoo, Will Smith Zoo School, Edutainment, Center for Conservation and Research at San Antonio Zoo, and Kiddie Park.
About San Antonio Zoo
San Antonio Zoo®, operating since 1914, is a nonprofit zoological facility committed to securing a future for wildlife. Through its passion and expertise in animal care, conservation, and education, the zoo's mission is to inspire its community to love, engage with, act for and protect animals and the places they live. The zoo welcomes more than a million visitors each year and is open year-round. San Antonio Zoo operates the largest nature-based preschool in the country, Will Smith Zoo School, the Center for Conservation and Research, and Kiddie Park. San Antonio Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Zoological Association of America, and Humane Certified by American Humane.