Blank Park Zoo has helped generations of visitors expand their understanding of our natural world. And our mission is growing.

A transformative new project will build on the Zoo’s legacy with new exhibits and major enhancements. It’s called Expand the Impact, and it is a celebration of wildlife close to home and far away. The new additions will include Wild Iowa, a Big Cat exhibit and numerous improvements for both the species who call the Zoo home and the visitors who come to learn about them.

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Wild Iowa

Wild Iowa will provide visitors an experience unique to Blank Park Zoo: a showcase of species from Iowa. The otters, eagles and bobcat that live here will be part of our rehabilitation programs. A new river otter exhibit will provide visitors an up-close experience through a glass tunnel for underwater viewing. We’re also improving the quality of life under water (and dramatically reducing our water usage) through new filtration systems. In the air, bald eagles will have new access to sunlight and a place to perch above visitors.

Big Cat Expansion

Big Cat Conservation is all about expanding space for the animals and enhancing views for the visitors. A new lion exhibit in the Africa area will be three times larger than the existing space. Tigers will move into a remodeled exhibit, and the goal is to be a successful breeding facility for both lions and tigers. Guests will be able to take in the sights on a large viewing deck or even catch a true “catwalk,” as the cats will have a new space to stroll directly above the public path.

Enhanced Guest Experience

The upgrades do not end with our wildlife. The project has big enhancements planned for the 500,000 visitors who arrive annually. Getting around will be a lot easier by replacing the asphalt pathways throughout the zoo. New signs will eliminate language barriers by using symbols, and an accessibility map will help visitors navigate the best route for them. Finally, a new stage will be built in the center of the Zoo to facilitate education programs, entertainment and special events.

Leave a Legacy

Blank Park Zoo is looking for partners to help realize this goal of improving accessibility, enhancing guest experiences, promoting animal welfare and expanding conservation practices. Over $12 million has already been identified in our goal of $18 million. Help us expand the impact by making a multi-year pledge.

Thank You to Our Generous Donors

Destination Iowa Administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority
The Ruan Foundation
Marjorie A. Foster
City of Des Moines
Nationwide Foundation

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino
Principal Foundation
Tim and Toni Urban

Donald and Margo Blumenthal
Aaron and Karen Kennedy
Musco Lighting

Becky and Toby Joseph
Deb Pulver
Polk County Board of Supervisors
The Exline Family

Gartner Family Foundation
Gina and Paul Schlueter
Hiram Houghton
Matt and Bridget Fryar
Easter Family Foundation
Easter Family
Allison and Jim Fleming
Diane Crookham-Johnson and Kevin Johnson
Pam and Jim Hagenbucher
Mary and Suku Radia
Mike and Debbie Hubbell

Kathy and Norton Hatlie
Jeff Daniels
Bravo Greater Des Moines
Dan Schwarz
Charlotte and Fred Hubbell
Steve and Melissa Chapman
Joanie and Dan Houston
Peg Armstrong-Gustafson and Gregg Gustafson
Carl and Susan Voss
Coca-Cola Atlantic Bottling Company
Merchants Bonding Foundation

Rochelle Burnett
Jason and Tina Hoffman
Barb Baumgarn
Richard O. Jacobson Foundation
Matt and Jennifer Gustafson
Dr. Richard Deming
Dan and Donna Grooms
Bill and Kathy Fehrman
Terry Rich
Wittern Family Charitable Foundation

$9,999 and Under
Lohse Family Foundation
Rob and Mandy Stevenson
Armel and Nicole Traore dit Nignan
Jay Tetzloff
Catherine and Michael Renner
Jeff Dier
John Viggers
Lauren Doll-Sheeder and Grant Sheeder
Pat Henson

Naming Rights Options

One way to join the mission to Expand the Impact is to consider naming rights. Several convenient options are available for your consideration. Gifts can be made in one-to-five-year installments as needed. Gifts of cash, securities, commodities and real estate may be accepted within the Blank Park Zoo Gift Acceptance Policy.

Some of these opportunities have already been taken, but openings remain.

Recognition Opportunities

Wild Iowa Entrance $2,000,000 (Funded)
Bald Eagle Exhibit and Viewing $1,000,000 (Funded)
Discovery Cabin $1,000,000
Bobcat Exhibit $500,000
River Otter Deep Pool Viewing Area $500,000 (Funded)
River Otter Shallow Stream Viewing Area $500,000 (Funded)
River Otter VIP Experience $250,000
River Otter Streambank Play Area $250,000
Discovery Cabin Aquarium $250,000
Life Support System Demonstration Exhibit $250,000
Animal Diet Kitchen $250,000
Wild Iowa Donor Wall Varies by Level
Lion Conservation Center Exhibit Naming $1,250,000 (Funded)
Lion Airplane Experience & Viewing $750,000
Lion Habitat Viewing Window $500,000
Lion Event Center Viewing Window $500,000 (Funded)
Lion Conservation Center Donor Wall Varies by Level
Tiger Central Courtyard $1,000,000
Tiger Viewing #1 $500,000
Tiger Viewing #2 $500,000
Tiger Conservation Center Donor Wall Varies by Level

Contact our CEO Directly


We appreciate your commitment to the Zoo, and we want to make sure you can reach out to our CEO, Anne Shimerdla, directly.


Work phone: (515) 974-2573.

Cell phone: (515) 208-0519