Oregon Zoo Foundation Milestones

What began as a collection of exotic animals gifted to the City of Portland in 1888 has become an internationally recognized institution through generations of incredible community support, making the Oregon Zoo part of the fabric of our region. Since 1997, the Oregon Zoo Foundation has contributed more than $54 million to the zoo in support of new exhibits, education programs and state-of-the-art veterinary care.

Learn about important milestones in the foundation's history below, and then explore the ways you can join in this tremendous history to support the zoo's education, conservation and animal welfare efforts.

1980 to 1996

The Oregon Zoo Foundation helps fund elephant reproduction research and education program development and foundation support helps the zoo complete exhibits and facilities:

  • Cascade Stream and Pond
  • Alaska Tundra
  • Africa exhibits
  • Lilah Callen Holden Elephant Museum
  • Center for Endangered Species
  • Renovations to the elephant yards


The foundation merges with the zoo's development office.


OZF secures over $1 million in zoo support, including funds to complete the Cascade Crest exhibit.


Zoo membership hits 30,000 households. 
Zoolala raises $104,000 for Eagle Canyon, a record for a zoo fundraising event.


Zoo membership reaches 36,000 households.


OZF completes its first comprehensive capital campaign, securing over $2 million to build the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, the world's fourth breeding facility for the endangered California condor.


Zoo membership tops 41,000 households.
The foundation embarks on "Predators of the Serengeti: Bring Back the Roar!" capital campaign to secure the $5 million needed to build the multi-species exhibit.


Future Zoo Vision Plan serves as catalyst for a planned zoo improvement bond measure, shepherded by a foundation-led public support campaign.


Thanks in part to advocacy from the Oregon Zoo Foundation, voters approve a $125 million bond measure to support six new animal exhibits, a conservation education center and a veterinary medical center. 
The foundation completes the successful Predators of the Serengeti campaign, providing $6 million to build and help operate the exhibit.


Predators of the Serengeti opens to the public and helps the Oregon Zoo set an annual attendance record of 1.6 million visitors.


Zoo membership exceeds 49,000 households. 
Predators of the Serengeti receives the top exhibit award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Red Ape Reserve exhibit opens, with funding assistance from the foundation.
The foundation commits a total of $5.33 million to enhance bond-funded projects at the zoo. 


More than 500 donors fund state-of-the-art medical equipment for the new Veterinary Medical Center.


Veterinary Medical Center opens.


The foundation launches a $3 million Campaign for Elephants to support the zoo's vision of providing the very best for the beloved herd while inspiring the community to care about the natural world. Community support helps enhance the most ambitious project in zoo history, Elephant Lands. 
With support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation, voters pass a levy to support and improve regional parks, trails and natural areas.  


A new strategic sponsorship program administered by the foundation helps the zoo connect with companies like Banfield Pet HospitalRegence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and Oregon College Savings Plan. Corporate partnerships focus on shared values such as conservation, education, animal welfare, sustainability and community.
The foundation funds a wildlife and lead outreach coordinator position, helping the zoo engage key stakeholders to create and implement a comprehensive outreach plan regarding lead and its impact on wildlife.   


The foundation concludes the Campaign for Elephants after raising $5.35 million to support Elephant Lands and the zoo's conservation, education and animal welfare efforts. 
With funding from the Oregon Zoo Foundation, the zoo expands its cutting-edge work in the science of endocrinology, which seeks to advance animal welfare.
Foundation support makes it possible for the zoo to join international conservation partners in efforts to protect critically endangered pygmy elephants.  
At the groundbreaking for the zoo's state-of-the-art Education Center, the foundation announces a $1.5 million campaign to support technology in the classrooms and additional space for teen programs, in addition to ongoing and expanded education programs.