An Evening at the Kansas City Zoo

breiby@growyourgiving.orgIndividual & Family Giving

Community Foundation donors greet the penguins in their habitat inside Helzberg Penguin Plaza.

More than 100,000 gallons of saltwater filters through a large pump room every 30 minutes beneath the Helzberg Penguin Plaza at the Kansas City Zoo to keep the nearly 70 birds on exhibit happy and healthy. Greater Kansas City Community Foundation donors and their families had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the penguins up close and on the ice at a recent Donor-to-Donor event. As the Zoo was closing to the public, Community Foundation donors arrived for the private, behind-the-scenes event.

Kansas City Zoo CEO Randy Wisthoff gave brief remarks to kick off the event, thanking the more than 100 donors in attendance for their continued commitment of supporting the Zoo.

“I see so many young kids here tonight, and they are the world’s future scientists, conservationists, biologists, zoologists and animal keepers,” said Wisthoff. “It’s critical that we continue to invest in the Kansas City Zoo and zoos around the world for the future of the next generation.”

Community Foundation donors and their young family enjoy Stingray Bay.

Donors were invited to join animal keepers and Zoo staff to explore behind the scenes of the Helzberg Penguin Plaza, visiting incubation rooms, the kitchen where 75 pounds of fish are prepared each day to feed the birds, and pump rooms that cycle, filter and chill thousands of gallons of water for the penguins and the three aquariums included in the exhibit. At the conclusion of the tour, donors met the penguins up close and personal inside the chilly, 45-degree exhibit. Penguins waddled amongst the visitors, curious and searching for any treats from the animal keepers. Young kids and grandparents alike were thrilled to meet the tuxedoed birds.

Donors also had the opportunity to visit the brand new Stingray Bay, the Zoo’s newest attraction. A 20,000-gallon touch tank allows visitors to feel and feed the nearly 30 stingrays on exhibit. The Zoo’s beloved Endangered Species Carousel was also open throughout the evening for donors to enjoy.

In 2002, Friends of the Zoo, a 501(c)(3) public charity, took ownership of the Kansas City Zoo. In the last 16 years, the Zoo has invested millions of dollars in building and maintaining state-of-the-art exhibits and educational opportunities for guests. Community Foundation donors use their donor-advised funds to support the Kansas City Zoo and other nonprofit organizations. Learn more about donor-advised funds or contact us at with any questions.

Authored by: Ashley Hawkins, Content Specialist