Akron Zoo successfully completes capital campaign


The Akron Zoo has successfully completed its comprehensive capital campaign, ROAR. The campaign reached its goal one year ahead of schedule, raising over $6 million for the Akron Zoo.

“The success of this campaign is an endorsement of our Akron Zoo, our projects and our commitment to formal and informal science education. The donors who made this possible love the Akron Zoo and believe deeply in our mission,” said Doug Piekarz, president & CEO at the Akron Zoo.

Improvements to the zoo as a direct result of ROAR include Landon and Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa, which opened in June 2019 and expanded the zoo’s footprint by three acres. Pride of Africa demonstrates life on Africa’s Southern Rift featuring African lions, Speke’s gazelles and white storks. Lehner Family Foundation Wild Asia, scheduled to open May 29, will feature white-cheeked gibbons, Sumatran tigers and red pandas in beautiful new habitats. 

Also incorporated in ROAR was increased funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, allowing the Akron Zoo to reach a wider audience both on and off grounds. Before COVID-19, the Akron Zoo reached over 90,000 students annually through educational programming and field trips for schools across Northeast Ohio. 

In the wake of COVID-19, the zoo pivoted quickly to virtual programming, providing content to schools and individual families alike. Virtual classrooms, camps and animal experiences reached an audience of over one million people across the United States, and even a class as far away as Alaska. 

“We recognized that $6 million was an ambitious goal, but I knew from past experience that Summit County is a very generous community, and if we shared our need for philanthropic support, our members and friends would answer the call,” said Pam Holtz, Chief Development Officer at the Akron Zoo.