$3 million gift to the Cleveland Zoological Society will bring a refreshed, new look to the Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the Cleveland Zoological Society today, Tuesday, May 18, announced a $3 million gift from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Supporting Foundation to renovate the zoo’s 57-year-old administration building, improve the guest services hub, and to enhance educational opportunities through the addition of a new auditorium.

The new the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Auditorium will serve as a large meeting space and hub for educational and conservation-based programming.

The gift is the largest single gift ever secured by the Cleveland Zoological Society and is the second major capital project supported by the Mandel Foundation. The foundation made a $500,000 grant in 2017 to construct the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Welcome Pavilion.

Guest Services Hub rendering “We are so thankful for the vision of Mort Mandel and the Mandel Foundation that will provide exceptional spaces for our guests, our donors, and our staff and bring our administrative facility into a new era,” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo executive director Dr. Chris Kuhar in a statement. “This building is the first one you see upon entering the Zoo and will be the hub for our guest and member services teams, allowing us to better serve those who walk through our gates.”

In addition to the auditorium, the renovation will provide a new guest services hub, conference rooms, rental space, and will allow for the renovation of facilities such as office space, restrooms, and reception areas.

The Zoo administration building was dedicated in 1964. Today, the building serves as the primary office space for Zoo and Zoo Society staffs, as well as guest and event space.

The renovation will provide needed updates to the staff office areas, add additional rental space, and better separate the building between public areas and office space. The new guest services hub will improve the guest experience and serve as a one-stop-shop for a variety of guests questions and needs, says Cleveland Zoological Society executive director Sarah Crupi.

“As the nonprofit that raises money in support of this Zoo, our first focus is on improving spaces for our animals and our guests,” said Crupi in a statement. “But with a 114-year-old zoo, we’re always looking for new opportunities to enhance our existing facilities.”

Crupi added that the improvements will better position the Zoo and Zoological Society in improving operations and their philanthropic outreach, as well as creating new spaces for guests.

Over the last ten years, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Zoological Society have invested $35 million in larger and more complex animal habitats, including African Elephant Crossing, Rosebrough Tiger Passage, and, most recently, the Daniel Maltz Rhino Reserve. Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in late 2021.
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