Multiply Your Impact at the Cincinnati Zoo

Thinking of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden likely brings to mind trips to the zoo as a child, or perhaps taking your own children there. But let’s move to the business side of things. That’s what the Zoo is, after all – a business. And by all accounts, it’s a pretty successful one. 

First things first: Yes, the Zoo receives public funding through the annual levy, but that funding accounted for just 17 percent of its 2014 budget. The remaining 83 percent was made up through admissions and parking; gifts, grants and donations; memberships; and private events. Of those four categories, the last is probably the least well known.

The Zoo’s events are unique, and the reason for that is pretty obvious. Where else can you have a corporate event or wedding reception with up-close appearances from lions, tigers and bears? It’s no wonder the Zoo has more than 350 private events each year and that profits from those events accounts for nearly 10 percent of revenue.

The Zoo is a full-service provider for a variety of events. Taste of the Wild Culinary Company is the Zoo’s onsite award-winning caterer with acclaimed Chef David Miller leading the team. Chef David creates delicious and unique menus for lavish galas, corporate events or company picnics. Moreover, the Zoo offers several venues, including four open-air shelters, five indoor meeting rooms and several outdoor animal exhibit areas that can be reserved for corporate or private events, meetings, weddings or picnics.

One particularly impressive venue is the AFRICA Exhibit, opened in 2014. The covered deck and patio area outside the Base Camp Cafe, recipient of the Greenest Restaurant in America award, provides seating for up to 250 people and overlooks an African savannah with cascading waterfalls and sinewy streams. “Guests can enjoy a fabulous dinner or cocktail party with a breathtaking view of lions, gazelles and ostrich plus all the beauty of what Africa offers. There’s nothing like it in the area,” says general sales manager Susan McGee.

“Our goal is to provide a great value, outstanding ser- vice and delicious food in a creative and unique environment while providing clients with the opportunity to sup- port the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.”

The Zoo is an icon, a feature at the forefront of Cincinnati and a point of pride for all who live here. It is embedded within the very fabric of our city. Holding an event at the Zoo draws upon all this and guarantees an unforgettable experience.

But it does more. “Hosting your events and meetings at our facilities also provides support to continue our mission while enjoying a fabulous party at the same time,” says McGee.

The Zoo’s impactful involvement in its surrounding neighborhoods means having an event there actually supports the community as well. In 2013, the Zoo partnered with Procter & Gamble and the Reds Community Fund on a community makeover of Avondale. In 2014, it was South Cumminsville’s turn. In both communities, the three organizations worked together to upgrade the interior and exterior of important community landmarks.

The Zoo also sustains strong and diverse partnerships with other nonprofit organizations, both around the world and in Cincinnati, to further its mission: “Create adventure, convey knowledge, conserve nature and serve community.” The Zoo has international conservation partner- ships with a dozen nonprofits throughout Asia and Africa to save species. Locally, the zoo partnerships involve education, research and community development with more than 20 organizations including Cincinnati Public Schools, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, ArtsWave and Marvin Lewis Community Fund.

As a business, the Zoo is innovative and dynamic. It has also become a major multiplier of economic activity, generating a $143 million annual economic impact in the region. Add to that its reputation as the most environ- mentally sustainable zoo in the world, its incredible event venues and its wonderful amenities and it becomes obvious how important the Zoo is. Not only is it an indispensable part of the region, it is also one of the best places to gather for an event. 


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