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Mayor announces $600K donor for penguin exhibit at Mesker Park Zoo

Updated: Jun. 4, 2019 at 2:25 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, and Evansville Zoological Society officials made a special announcement regarding the zoo’s future development, Penguins of Patagonia.

They announced a donation of $600,000 from Wayne and Beth Kinney.

The Kinneys have been interested in the penguin exhibit for years and say now is the time to help make it happen.

“I think it was because of our grandchildren. We’re lucky enough to have them living here in town, and they love penguins. Every zoo we go to they have to see the penguin exhibit, and I thought, ‘Why not have one here?’” says Beth

When the Kinney’s told their grandchildren they were going to help make it happen, they say, “They were screaming. They were excited. Very excited. “Very excited.”

That makes more than $4 million dollars in donations so far for the exhibit.

Penguins of Patagonia is the future habitat for up to 20-30 Humboldt penguins.

The Kinneys are life-long residents of Evansville and hope this exhibit helps others love the city as much as they do.

“Well if we don’t keep things current, they obviously will go to other zoos and they get in other cities and like that city and end up moving there. We kind like the idea of having them here in Evansville with us, so that’s why we invest in Evansville,” says Wayne.

A fundraising event is planned for August, and donations are still being accepted.

There has been talk of the exhibit since at least 2016.

Kinney Family Penguins
Kinney Family Penguins

The Zoo Advisory Board met Tuesday morning. They voted unanimously to start seeking bids on an expansion in their African Rift exhibit.

The work will include repaving the pathway in front of the exhibit to make it ADA friendly. They also hope to build a learning space, and add a tortoise exhibit.

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