Great Plains Zoo announces largest gift ever toward lion exhibit

Aug. 7, 2018

The Great Plains Zoo has received the largest gift in its history — $1 million from T. Denny Sanford’s foundation.

That brings the lion exhibit to $2 million toward its ultimate $5 million fundraising goal.

“This is truly special,” Sanford said. “I’m a zoo guy. You say zoos are for kids? Wrong. We’re going to get to our goal very, very quickly.”

The lion exhibit will include close-up viewing for a full pride of up to 10 lions, including cubs.

“Today’s gift from Denny is a wonderful step forward,” said Dave Knudson, campaign co-chair. “The key is to keep the zoo wonderful, vibrant, growing, so it can be a key part … for our children and families in Sioux Falls.”

The lion project also will add expanded viewing and cafe seating at the Maasai Market Cafe, allowing diners to watch animals while eating. Other features include:

  • African kopje — small rocky hill — habitat and yard.
  • Holding and viewing building.
  • Lion-training demonstration area.
  • Enhanced seating and views into animal habitats.

“We have fond memories of seeing lions at the Great Plains Zoo decades ago and are excited to share this exhibit with our children and grandchildren in a few short years,” said De Knudson, the campaign’s co-chair.

Lions have been a much-requested addition to the zoo’s more than 1,000 animals.

“Today, we mark a great place in our journey,” said Elizabeth Whealy, president and CEO of the Great Plains Zoo.

“Your Great Plains Zoo is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the biggest and best zoos in the country to help save these wild animals.”

Zoo looks to future following major improvements

Great Plains Zoo announces largest gift ever toward lion exhibit

The Great Plains Zoo has received the largest gift in its history — $1 million from T. Denny Sanford’s foundation.

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