Inside INdiana Business

Mesker Park Zoo expands community program

(photo courtesy of Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Evansville is expanding its Community Membership Program. The program, which provides $5 annual memberships for families participating in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, will now be available to residents of southwest Indiana, western Kentucky and southern Illinois.

The zoo launched the program in May for residents in Gibson, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties. The program was funded by Indianapolis Lilly Endowment Inc. and the zoo says the expansion was made possible in part by funds raised through a wine auction event earlier this month, which raised more than $20,000.

“With the funds raised at our auction event, plus a generous donation made by the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership earlier this summer, we are able to provide an additional 1,080 households access to the Zoo with a family membership,” Jennifer Evans, development director for the zoo, said in a news release. “We are so grateful for the support of our community to be able to offer and expand this program.”

Since the program’s launch, more than 500 households have enrolled in the CMP, accounting for more than 950 adults and nearly 1,400 children. 

Erick Beck, executive director of the zoo, says the Evansville Zoological Society is working to ensure the program “isn’t going away anytime soon.” He says the zoo is looking to sustain the program through present and future donors.