June 12, 2024

Mays Family Foundation Donates $5 Million to Transform San Antonio Zoo

In a groundbreaking move for the San Antonio Zoo, the Mays Family Foundation has bestowed a generous $5 million donation towards the zoo’s ambitious Generation Zoo capital campaign. This substantial contribution will catalyze the first phase of a multi-year initiative, bringing about a revolutionary transformation in amenities, animal habitats, and communal spaces throughout the zoo.

The Mays Family Foundation’s remarkable gift holds a pivotal role in the expansion and enhancement of the San Antonio Zoo. Notable projects that will benefit from this donation include the creation of a new entrance, the establishment of a world-class gorilla habitat named Congo Falls, and the development of a state-of-the-art 500-person capacity event center called The Ralston.

In recognition of this transformative gift and the Mays family’s commitment, the iconic 60-foot gorilla tower linking Congo Falls to The Ralston will be given a special name. This unique feature, the only one of its kind globally, will provide gorillas with the choice to visit The Ralston, offering a distinctive and unforgettable experience for event attendees.

Tim Morrow, President & CEO of San Antonio Zoo, expressed gratitude, saying, “Living in San Antonio, I knew the Mays family name through their philanthropic impact across San Antonio. Since that time, I have gotten to know more of the family and staff of the foundation and consider them not only zoo family but wonderful friends.”

The Mays Family Foundation, led by Peggy and the late Lowry Mays, received the Wildlife Conservation Award from San Antonio Zoo in 2016 for their unwavering commitment to conservation efforts. Established in 1994, the foundation has dedicated over $163 million to various causes, showcasing their dedication to positive change.

Kathryn Mays Johnson, daughter of Lowry Mays, remarked, “My father would have been very proud of the zoo and its ability to continue to grow and serve San Antonio.”

Lowry Mays, a former San Antonio Zoo board member since 1995, recently transitioned to Honorary Director in 2023 after his passing. The Mays Family Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of the zoo over the years, with significant contributions to various projects, including Africa Live Phase 1 (2003-2007) and Zootennial Plaza (2013-2015).

The recent $5 million gift propels the San Antonio Zoo closer to achieving its fundraising goal for the first phase of the Generation Zoo capital campaign, which is estimated to cost around $67 million. While some efforts are still in development and design, Congo Falls and The Ralston are anticipated to open their doors in early 2025, with groundbreaking set to commence in the coming months.

The Mays family’s enduring dedication to the San Antonio Zoo stands as a testament to their commitment to the community and the preservation of wildlife, ensuring a legacy of positive impact for generations to come.