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New Year, New Financing Propels Construction of Animal Care Complex at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

by User Not Found | Jan 09, 2014
Tampa City Council today unanimously authorized up to $6.5 million in tax-exempt financing to assist the nonprofit Lowry Park Zoological Society with capital improvement needs. The financing originated from a private bank to the Society, which manages Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The Zoo’s strong financial operations and the number of campaign pledges already received qualified the Zoo to receive the loan. City approval was necessary for the Zoo to benefit from tax-exempt rates.

Zoo Enters Home Stretch of New Horizons Campaign

TAMPA, Fla. (January 9, 2014) — Tampa City Council today unanimously authorized up to $6.5 million in tax-exempt financing to assist the nonprofit Lowry Park Zoological Society with capital improvement needs. The financing originated from a private bank to the Society, which manages Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. The Zoo’s strong financial operations and the number of campaign pledges already received qualified the Zoo to receive the loan. City approval was necessary for the Zoo to benefit from tax-exempt rates.

"The Zoo is extremely well run with fiscal responsibility and financial discipline, talented staff, and committed trustees,” said Allen R. Brinkman II, SunTrust Bank chairman, president and CEO for Tampa Bay and South Florida. “SunTrust is proud to be the Zoo's bank partner for this important project."

The purpose of the bank loan is to provide immediate funding for capital investment at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo including a new animal care complex. The loan provides interim financing while the Zoo continues to fundraise for the New Horizons Campaign, launched in December 2010. Just over $7 million has been pledged to date. The Zoo needs to raise another $3 million for the hospital to open fully funded in late 2014.

“Over the last 26 years, the Zoo has more than doubled in size, but our animal care facilities have not,” said Dick Stohler, co-chair of the New Horizons Campaign and a director of the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation. “The new animal care complex will provide the medical facilities necessary to meet our expanding needs and support future growth.”

Crews began site preparation in late 2012 for the new complex, located adjacent to the existing veterinary clinic built some 27 years ago. The first phases of new construction will include a 12,000 square foot veterinary hospital and a 2,000 square foot animal commissary building. Future construction will add a new 4,000 square foot conservation center for the Zoo’s animal care staff and visiting researchers.

In 2010 the Zoo launched the New Horizons Campaign, a needs-based campaign designed to raise at least $10 million for vital developments at the Zoo and to grow the Lowry Park Zoo Endowment Foundation. Pledges to the Endowment will ensure that the new projects are properly maintained in the future.

The animal care complex will be located just off the boardwalk of the Mason M. and Charles P. Lykes Florida Wildlife Center. When complete, it will consist of four buildings: a veterinary hospital with dedicated areas for surgery, pharmacy, radiology, labs and veterinary offices; quarantine and holding for animal patients; commissary to prepare daily diets for more than 1,000 animals; and a conservation center for study. The new veterinary hospital and animal commissary are expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

Additionally, the new conservation center will be designed to be LEED-certified, a designation available to green builders.

Another important component of the New Horizons Campaign will direct funds to conserving Florida’s natural resources. The more than 20-year-old Manatee and Aquatic Center, which houses the only nonprofit manatee hospital in the world, focuses on critical care for injured, sick and orphaned wild manatees. The Zoo has treated more than 330 wild manatees since opening the facility in 1991 – about six percent of the state’s estimated wild count. After 22 years of service at high capacity, the Zoo’s manatee facilities require an estimated $2 million in essential capital improvements for life support. The replacement cost today for this facility today would be an estimated $23 million.

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Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is operated by the Lowry Park Zoological Society, an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization committed to excellence in education, conservation and research. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is featured among the “Top 25 Zoos in the U.S” by TripAdvisor (2015) and “10 Best Zoos in the U.S.” by Trekaroo (2015). The Zoo is located at 1101 W. Sligh Avenue in Tampa, one mile west of I-275 (exit 48) and is open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 

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