First of its Kind Kickstarter Campaign Launched to Help Save Endangered African Penguins

May 25th, 2017

African penguin populations have been declining for the past few decades. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), is joining with the AZA and other accredited aquariums and zoos to take action and help reverse this trend. They are launching the “Invest In The Nest” campaign on Kickstarter, the innovative crowdfunding platform. The campaign seeks to raise $150,000 to help build and place 1,500 artificial nests for African penguins in South Africa and Namibia.

“Our  penguin animal care professionals provide expert care to our birds every day, and we’re applying that expertise directly to help these wild colonies,” says Senior Keeper Jo Kelly. “The “Invest in the Nest” Kickstarter campaign is a great way for the public to join us in helping save African penguins in the wild.”

Also, Como is supporting the SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction®, a program that brings together the expertise and resources of AZA, its members, and partners to help save species from extinction. Establishing new artificial nests is a priority identified in the AZA SAFE African penguin conservation action plan, and necessary to help save African penguins.

“We’re always excited about campaigns that expand our worldview and actively contribute to innovation around the globe. Invest In The Nest is pushing boundaries in the practice of conservation and bringing optimism and direct action to the Kickstarter backer community,” says Clarissa Redwine, Kickstarter’s Design and Technology Outreach Lead for the West Coast.  “This conservation effort takes backers through the process of designing, building, and installing habitat structures that will help save endangered African penguins, helping Kickstarter backers play a vital part in protecting wildlife.”

Supporters of the campaign won’t go away empty-handed. A variety of rewards is available for backing the Kickstarter campaign, including exclusive behind-the-scenes opportunities at some of the best aquariums and zoos in the country, as well as original penguin art, symbolic penguin adoption kits, t-shirts, totes, posters and more.

“AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos believe we should do more to help save species, which is why we started SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of AZA. “We brought together scientists and engineers to help us design the best nest for African penguins. Now we need the public’s help to build and place the nests in South Africa. Invest In The Nest is an opportunity for anyone to help save a species!”

If fully funded, the nests will be constructed by hand in South Africa, helping to create jobs for residents.

To back or follow the campaign, visit the “Invest In The Nest” campaign page on Kickstarter.

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eight other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

About SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction®

SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together we are working on saving the most vulnerable wildlife species from extinction and protecting them for future generations. To learn more, visit

Photo by Jordana Torgeson Photography


YEP Update: February

February 4th, 2017

The YEP youth are knee-deep in their community conservation projects!  Topics include improving recycling programs, the impacts of therapeutic horticulture, addressing urban runoff and increasing the amount of time youth spend outside – especially in the winter.  This month we took some time to connect with each other, connect with our projects, connect with nature, and… connect with Skeeter. 

Zookeeper Jill introduced us to the gentle giants of Como and shared the work Giraffe Conservation Foundation does to preserve critical giraffe habitat. 

Did you know, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) focuses on reconnecting youth in Namibia with nature?  World-wide, it is recognized that time outside plays a critical role in the growth and development of young people – and adults.   In 2010, the University of Rochester released the results of five different experiments that showed how spending time in nature can improve a person’s well-being.  For a deeper read on this topic, check out Richard Louv’s book; Last Child in the Woods. With this in mind, we ventured outside, exploring Como Regional Park.

We also took a few minutes to watch the video produce by YEP’s team from Urban Roots.  Their conservation project centers on encouraging young people to get outside and explore all that winter has to offer.  Urban Roots, along with St. Paul Parks and Recreation, Wilderness Inquiry, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and many other organizations will be hosting the 2017 Phalen Freeze Fest from 2:00 – 6:00 on Saturday, February 11.  Participants can try their hand at snowshoeing, cooking over fire, ice fishing, and building a snow cave.  Great, winter-themed prizes are available too!  You won’t want to miss Urban Root’s performance of the Legend of Shingebiss!  Tie your boots, zip your parka, and tell your friends to join you at Freeze Fest!


Make A Difference With Your Valentine’s Day Chocolates

February 2nd, 2017

The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is proud to partner with Seroogy’s to support the AZA’s groundbreaking conservation initiative, SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction. Como is home to one of the first SAFE focus species: the African Penguin.  A portion of every sale of the SAFE chocolate gift box will support African penguin conservation.

This SAFE gift box features a special 1 oz. milk chocolate card promoting SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction), along with an assortment of Seroogy’s popular homemade chocolates. The gift box includes caramels, meltaways, nut clusters, truffles, creams and coconut clusters, packaged in a gold gift box with a clear cover. Click here to learn more about SAFE, the collective expertise and focus of 232 zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to save species.

Click here to purchase a SAFE chocolate gift box

Get FREE SHIPPING with your purchase when you enter promo code SAFE17

This product is palm oil free.



Another Day, Another New Baby Animal At Como!

November 14th, 2016


Please welcome (and visit!) Lucile, one of Como’s newest babies! Lucile is a saki monkey born in the early morning hours of October 24 to mother Patty, and father Milton. This is Milton and Patty’s eighth baby, all born at Como. Their other offspring are all over the country now, from San Diego to Fargo.

The name Lucile is a nod to longtime primate zookeeper Megan who lost her beloved Grandmother Lucile earlier this year.

Saki monkeys have a gestation of five months. Sakis are independent at six months of age but will usually stay with their family group for a year or two.

Patty (18 yo) was born on St. Patty’s Day at Cleveland; Milton (16 yo) was born at Pittsburg. They came to Como 14 years ago to form a breeding pair. Sakis can live into their thirties and will often mate for life.

Sakis display sexual dichromism, which means the males and females are different colors. Infants are born with the brown female coloration, and the males begin to develop the characteristic black body and white face at two months of age.

So why is Patty holding a spoon of peanut butter you ask? She quickly grabbed it from a zookeeper who was using it to entice her to get a good photo!




Zookeeper Melanie in Churchill

October 25th, 2016

Zookeeper Melanie is in Churchill, Manitoba for a couple of weeks working with Polar Bears International! Be sure to follow this blog as we post about her journey!

Update #5

These little balls of fur were born last December! Who doesn’t love Polar Bear cubs?!


Update #4

Lots of other critters call the the wildlife management area near Churchill home and this year we have seen a lot of them!  Arctic Fox, Silver Fox, Ptarmigan, Arctic Hare and Snowy owls are just a few.  It has been amazing to see so many species and share in the collective excitement on the buggy as everyone enjoys these animals.  People from all over the globe are instant friends in that moment, connected to nature and each other.  It truly is amazing.

1020260 1020134 p1070367 p1070296

Update #3

Polar Bears International focuses on Polar bear conservation through education and research.  My job on the buggy is to help by educating the many guests about Polar Bears and the effects of a changing climate.  Every day is different, today my group had people from Australia, England, the United States, Japan, and Canada!

Update #2

Today we got to see these two little females interacting and playing.  It was fun to see bears moving around and having fun.  They stayed together for about 30 minutes and then went their separate ways.

1020291 1020290 1020273

Update #1

First day in Churchill!   We are out on buggy one (the buggy reserved for Polar Bears International) testing cameras to get ready for PBI’s  live polar bear cam and came across this sleepy girl.  The Hudson Bay is still open water but the smaller pools left by the tide are starting to freeze.
bio p1020080

1020095 1020047