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 leader in conservation, education and animal welfare, thanks to generations of incredible community support. The Oregon Zoo is a local treasure, and we are so much more. Here are a few donor-supported milestones in the foundation's history.


At the close of 2019, halfway through the foundation’s four-year Heart of the Oregon Zoo campaign, the Oregon Zoo Foundation has raised over $6 million toward its $8.5 million goal. The campaign finances strategic investments in education, conservation and animal welfare, as well as significant support for the construction of new, world-class habitats.

Our donors added enriching features to the multimillion-dollar bond-funded construction of Primate Forest, which will include a stream, waterfalls, rocks and a tree canopy for climbing. These new features will encourage natural behaviors, keeping chimpanzees engaged and healthy.

Ultimately, the foundation will play an integral role in welcoming polar bears and endangered black rhinos back to the zoo. The campaign and construction are expected to conclude in 2021 when the zoo will open Polar Passage and continue to support groundbreaking conservation science in the Arctic.

Healthy habitats and thriving wildlife are of utmost important to the zoo and the foundation. From life-saving veterinary equipment to sophisticated cameras for monitoring animals at night, our community made a big impact in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Individual donors, estates and foundations helped purchase amazing tools for the Veterinary Medical Center—a blood-banking centrifuge, a computerized tomography (or CT) scanner and state-of-the art, energy-efficient freezers for storage of samples. These additions advanced our care for endangered western pond turtles, elephants and all the animals at the zoo.


In accordance with the foundation's dedication to conservation science, a huge accomplishment in 2016 was the creation of the $1 million Asian Elephant Endowment. Another OZF elephant conservation milestone seen in 2016 was an emergency fund transfer to supply milk replacer for orphaned elephant calves in Borneo.

The Oregon Zoo Foundation was thrilled to report that the Education Campaign exceeded goals by raising $1.7 million to enhance the zoo's Education Center, a home for innovative youth programs. In keeping with the foundation's commitment to education, one of the proudest moments of 2016 was a $97,000 grant award for Title 1 schools. This award ensured that Portland-area Title 1 third grade students were able to attend field trips to participate in Zoo School programming that would have otherwise been out of reach.

In addition, the foundation was able to provide $35,000 for security improvements at the zoo's Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation. Finally, $11,000 in Advancement Grants ensured that Oregon Zoo staff had access to the resources they needed to do their jobs.


The foundation concluded the Campaign for Elephants after raising $5.35 million to support Elephant Lands and the zoo's efforts. With funding from the foundation, the zoo expanded its cutting-edge work in the science of endocrinology, which advanced animal welfare.

Foundation support made 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 announced a $1.5 million campaign to support technology in the classrooms and additional space for teen programs, alongside ongoing and expanded education programs.