Largest Donation in San Antonio Zoo History

Photo: San Antonio Zoo

San Antonio Zoo has announced a $10 million donation from The Ralston Family Charitable Foundation in support of its Generation Zoo capital campaign. This transformational contribution, the largest in the zoo's 109-year history, will help fund Phase 1 of the zoo's capital campaign. In honor of this gift, the new event center at San Antonio Zoo will be named "The Ralston." 

The Ralston will host galas, events, fundraisers, weddings and other celebratory moments. This new event center will sit atop the historic quarried cliff walls of San Antonio Zoo, marking the first time in history the zoo has expanded outside of its traditional footprint. The Ralston will be able to accommodate approximately 500 people indoors for events, with the ability to expand into a covered patio to over 600 people. Sitting atop the cliff wall, guests will overlook gorillas in Congo Falls, lions in Big Cat Valley, the African Savanna and will feature a view of the downtown San Antonio Zoo skyline. A 60-foot tower will allow gorillas to come from Congo Falls into The Ralston and interact with events. 

The Ralston Family Charitable Foundation has an incredible passion for animal conservation and, by supporting the construction of The Ralston, will assist the zoo with much-needed funds raised from the events that will take place there. Those funds will assist in expanding the zoo's vision of securing a future for wildlife. 

"My family and I are passionate about wildlife conservation and our hope is that The Ralston and the events that are held there will help fund and fuel even more conservation efforts around the globe," said Shannon Ralston. "Furthermore, it is my hope that this gift inspires others to give to San Antonio Zoo, an amazing institution that leads conservation efforts around the world, educates our children and provides world-class animal care." 

Phase 1 of San Antonio Zoo's master plan, estimated at $67 million, is nearing completion, with the new entrance set to open this December and the gorilla habitat (Congo Falls) and event center (The Ralston) scheduled for early 2025. Phase 1 is primarily funded through donations, zoo funds, 2022 voter-approved bond funds, and Midtown TIRZ funds. 

"Shannon, her family and The Ralston Family Charitable Foundation's generous support will significantly advance our efforts to create a better future for San Antonio Zoo and the incredible animals we care for," said Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo. "We are deeply grateful for this gift, Shannon's commitment to our community, and the lasting impact her contribution will have on our zoo and worldwide conservation efforts." 

The Ralston Family Charitable Foundation's $10 million gift brings the zoo closer to reaching its fundraising goal for Generation Zoo Phase 1, which currently stands at over 80%.

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