Wayne and Beth Kinney and Family lead private donors for Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden penguin habitat

Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in partnership with City of Evansville’s Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and the Evansville Zoological Society, announced Wayne and Beth Kinney Family today as its lead private donors contributing $600,000 for the Zoo’s future development, Penguins of Patagonia. The announcement took place at the Zoo’s site for the penguin habitat.  

Mesker Park Zoo’s executive director, Erik Beck, said, “Penguins of Patagonia is a private-public partnership, with the City of Evansville already committing approximately one-half of the project’s $6.8 million cost. We are thrilled to have Wayne and Beth Kinney and their family, lead private fundraising efforts for the penguin development.”

Wayne and Beth Kinney are lifetime Evansville residents. Wayne Kinney conveyed his family’s adoration for Mesker Park Zoo, remembering times spent visiting the monkey ship and riding the carousel, along with Beth and the Kinney’s daughter, as local school teachers, taking their students to the Zoo for field trips.

Wayne Kinney shared, “We believe Mesker Park Zoo is a high quality facility for the City of Evansville, and region.  It’s important for us to invest in the Zoo’s growth for future families to enjoy.” 

Penguins of Patagonia is the future habitat for up to 20-30 Humboldt penguins. Mesker Park Zoo will be Indiana’s first zoo (in recent years) to provide a Humboldt penguin habitat. The Humboldt penguin can measure 24-26 inches tall and weigh up to 13 pounds. They are black, grey, and white, and require a diet of fish, such as anchovies and sardines. The Humboldt penguin species live along the rocky coastline of Chile’ and Peru and are considered vulnerable to extinction due to overall ongoing, rapid decline in the number of breeding colonies (www.redlist.org). The life expectancy for the Humboldt penguin is 15-20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in human care.  

The Penguins of Patagonia habitat is designed with distinctive features that will:

  • Result in a naturalistic environment to promote a range of penguin behaviors.
  • Expand and enliven the Zoo’s Entry Plaza and South American exhibits.
  • Create a state-of-the art animal habitat with sustainable green features for our environment and wildlife.
  • Provide an up-close and engaging animal experience for an estimated 240,000 zoo visitors annually. 
  • Offer firsthand education experiences that encourage meaningful personal connections with our natural world.
  • Cultivate quality of place for the Zoo and City of Evansville, attracting new visitors to the region.

“We are deeply grateful to Wayne, Beth, and the Kinney family for their tremendous contribution to Mesker Park Zoo and the Penguins of Patagonia development,” Mayor Lloyd Winnecke remarked. “Their support has brought us one step closer to welcoming Humboldt penguins in Evansville.”

For more information about the development or to support Penguins of Patagonia visit meskerparkzoo.com/give/penguins, email supportourzoo@meskerparkzoo.com, or call the Zoo’s development office at 812.435.0802.

Established in 1928, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is situated on 45-scenic acres of rolling hills in Evansville, Indiana. The Zoo is home to hundreds of animals from around the globe and thousands of exotic and regional botanic species. Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden averages over 186,000 visitors annually, and according to Evansville’s Convention & Visitors Bureau is ranked as the number 1 family attraction in Evansville, Indiana. The Zoo is open 365 days a year from 9 am – 5 p.m. CDT. Standard admission for adults is $9.50 and children ages 3-12 are $8.50.  Children age 2 and under are free.  Zoo members are free.

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden’s mission is to foster the preservation of the Earth’s diverse species and living systems through an active role in education and conservation in our regional and professional community. We will forge connections between people and the natural world by providing quality experiences that promote understanding and celebrate the rich tapestry of life.

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