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Photos: Jacksonville Zoo announces plans for Manatee River, $50 million renovation campaign

The first phase of the upgrades includes the construction of Manatee River, being supported first by $3 million from J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Monday, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced that it will be embarking on the largest capital campaign in the history of the Zoo in order to make significant improvements.

The Zoo says the five-year, $50 million campaign will expand wellness-inspired habitats for animal care, grow conservation initiatives, offer improved educational spaces and guest services and introduce new species. 

“...We have cast a bold vision: we want to welcome Florida visitors and become the #1 zoo in the United States,” said Executive Director Tony Vecchio.

The first phase of the upgrades includes the construction of Manatee River, being supported first by $3 million from J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, Honorary Chairs of the campaign. 

The Zoo says Florida’s most beloved and charismatic species will greet guests entering the Zoo from their new exhibit, paying homage to the vibrant natural world surrounding North Florida. 

Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens set the goal to raise $5 million per year from private sources, which will be matched for another $5 million per year thanks to the support of Mayor Lenny Curry and Jacksonville City Council. 

Other planned improvements include a new lion habitat with a scenic overlook, an expanded and immersive elephant exhibit, and the addition of orangutans in a space with extensive room to climb. 

To learn more about the campaign and giving, visit jacksonvillezoo.org/rezoovenation

Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Credit: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.