Our 2013 ChamberChoice Small Not-for-Profit of the Year won’t argue with the fact that work is sometimes a zoo. The Red River Zoo, which boasts more than 300 animals, representing 75 species, is a highly unique zoo for several reasons. The first is that it is completely funded by donations, zoo admissions, sponsorships and fundraisers, a rarity among zoos that are normally funded through municipalities.
The zoo is also accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) something only 10 percent of the zoos in the United States have accomplished. “It’s a grueling process,” said the zoo’s executive director, Lisa Tate. “They even try the food at the concession stands.”
Conservation is the third unique aspect of the zoo. While many zoos across the nation work to conserve and preserve animals, especially endangered species, the Red River Zoo has seen overwhelming success. The zoo was recently awarded an Edward H. Bean significant achievement award from the AZA for their conservation efforts. Tate said the award was an even bigger honor as it normally goes to zoos with considerably larger budgets (think the San Diego Zoo or the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.)
It’s been an award-winning year for the zoo. On top of the ChamberChoice and AZA award, the zoo also won the Governor’s Award for best tourist attraction of the year. The award recognized the fact that 64 percent of the zoo's 70,000 visitors are tourists, helping bring people and commerce to the community and state.
There are a number of ways for individuals and businesses to get involved with the zoo and help further their mission. Individuals can get zoo memberships or attend fundraisers like Zoolebration. Businesses who are interested in helping the zoo can sign up for business memberships, donations, sponsorships and zoo events.
For more information about the zoo, visit www.redriverzoo.org.