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Zoo New England announces plans for the new George Robert White Fund Children's Zoo - Nature's Neighborhoods

Boston, Mass. – Zoo New England announces today that plans and a capital campaign are underway for Nature’s Neighborhoods, an innovative $6.6 million project at Franklin Park Zoo.

The George Robert White Fund has made a $3 million capital investment to build Nature’s Neighborhoods, which will occupy and expand the space of the George Robert White Fund Children’s Zoo.

To date, $4.5 million has been raised toward the capital campaign to build Nature’s Neighborhoods.

“We are incredibly grateful to the George Robert White Fund for their longstanding support of Franklin Park Zoo. This exciting, innovative space will be truly spectacular and a point of pride for the city and the Commonwealth,” said John Linehan, President and CEO of Zoo New England.

Nature’s Neighborhoods at the George Robert White Fund Children’s Zoo will provide engaging experiences for children and families. Through active self-directed exploration and discovery, compelling encounters with wildlife and habitats and integrated educational programming, visitors will have the opportunity to make powerful connections between their own lives and the lives of wild animals.

“Nature’s Neighborhoods is a project based in extensive market research validating a concept that fulfills the need for an area geared specifically for young children as a priority for Franklin Park Zoo and the community at large,” said Gordon Carr, Chair of Zoo New England’s Board of Directors. “This incredible new project will be enjoyed by children and families in Boston and beyond for generations to come.”

By comparing ecosystems to neighborhoods, children can explore various habitats and discover the roles that living creatures, including themselves, play in healthy, thriving environments. Featured animal exhibits will include red pandas, North American river otters, prairie dogs and many more.

“In this day and age when so many, including children, are focused on computer screens and mobile devices, it’s important not to lose the connection to nature and our critical role in ensuring the planet remains a healthy, thriving place for generations to come. Nature’s Neighborhoods will play a key role in introducing children to relatable ecological concepts in a fun and meaningful way,” Linehan said.

Nature’s Neighborhoods will feature both traditional and non-traditional learning spaces including flexible indoor and outdoor classrooms where groups can gather for programs and other directed educational activities. By incorporating universal design principals, the space will not only be accessible but will be truly inclusive for children and families of all abilities.

“Zoo New England’s Franklin Park and Stone Zoos are both vibrant, essential contributors to our region’s cultural landscape – providing affordable, fun activities for families while simultaneously educating and inspiring wildlife conservationists, nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards and supporters of all ages. Nature’s Neighborhoods aligns perfectly with Zoo New England’s mission,” said Robert Beal, who serves on Zoo New England’s Board of Directors and is the Nature’s Neighborhoods Capital Campaign Chair.

Generous support for Nature’s Neighborhoods at the George Robert White Fund Children’s Zoo comes from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, Robert L. Beal, Grace and Ted Fey, Peter A. Wilson, The Charisma Fund - Lucy R. Sprague Memorial, Emily V. Wade, The Gifford Family, The Gutierrez Family and AT&T.

Cambridge Seven Associates is the lead architect for Nature’s Neighborhoods. Main Street Design, also of Cambridge, is the project’s exhibit designer.

Zoo New England manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham. Both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo New England's mission is to inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research, and education.