Miller Park Zoo’s Sumatran tiger fundraiser hits $50,000 goal
BLOOMINGTON — Zoo-Do did it. The fundraiser for Miller Park Zoo one week ago topped its goal to raise at least $50,000 to help the facility launch a breeding program for rare Sumatran tigers. The actual amount collected was $51,500, said Deanna Frautschi, who co-chaired the event with Alan Bedell. Attendance exceeded the target of 300.
“Al and I and our team are thrilled to have been able to help this wonderful little gem of a zoo that’s been in our community for 117 years,” Frautschi said. “Besides exceeding the $50,000 goal, we hope Zoo Do helped raise awareness of Miller Park Zoo and inspired people to continue to support it for their families and future generations.”
Zoo Director John Tobias was as happy with the first-of-its-kind event. Zoo-Do was held at the zoo and Miller Park Pavilion. Previous fundraisers were held off-campus and were not as successful financially or able to showcase the zoo well, he said.
“I am very pleased with the entire event. The committee that put it together did a great job. I hope we can continue to make it grow,” Tobias said.
Zoo-Do kicked off phase two of Operation Roar, a capital improvement project. Phase I included construction of an animal hospital that opened this year. The cost was about $400,000.
Phase two will need $400,000 to $500,000 to remodel the zoo’s oldest building, the Katthoefer Animal Building, which was built in 1914. Tobias wants the zoo to take part in a captive breed program to protect rare Sumatran tigers. Just 400 Sumatrans remain in the wild.
The Katthoefer Animal Building, last remodeled in 1976, houses a single 17-year-old Sumatran tiger named Besar, among other animals. Plans call for the exhibit to be updated to include two new enclosures, one for a younger male tiger and the other for a female tiger, and eventually their offspring. The area would be enclosed in glass to offer visitors a closer view than possible now.
Tobias hopes the remainder of the money can be raised and the project completed within three years.