The Akron Zoo has received a $1.5 million estate gift, which is the largest estate gift in the zoo’s history. The executor of the estate has requested to keep the donor’s name anonymous. The gift supports the zoo’s conservation efforts to protect critically endangered species.
The gift will fund construction on two habitats, a private yard for red wolves and a habitat for white-winged wood ducks and Bali mynahs. The red wolf yard will provide more space for breeding in the future. Red wolves are critically endangered, with fewer than 20 left in their native habitat. The Akron Zoo has partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to cross foster pups in the past, and this yard will allow for the zoo to continue its participation in the program.
The new white-winged wood duck and Bali mynah habitat will be incorporated in the zoo’s Lehner Family Foundation Wild Asia, which opened in May 2021. Bali mynahs are critically endangered, with fewer than 100 birds left in their habitat. White-winged wood ducks are classified as endangered, with less than 800 birds remaining in their native habitat. The new habitat will allow for breeding of both species.
Along with the new construction, the gift will also fund a Director of Conservation, a newly created position at the Akron Zoo. This senior leadership role will be solely dedicated to wildlife conservation.
"We are excited and humbled to receive this estate gift and we will dedicate ourselves to meeting the donor’s wishes to the fullest possible extent,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO. “This transformational gift will have an immediate and lasting impact on the Akron Zoo and its conservation efforts. It will help save species from extinction by supporting animal care, husbandry and breeding programs while setting the stage for the next decade of conservation engagement starting right here in Akron, Ohio.”