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Pieces are unloaded at the future site. Construction continues with a grand opening this Winter!

    Financing made possible by Gordon Nelson, Vice President
and Joseph Gehley, Vice President, U.S. Bank.


At 64 Feet, the Ferris Wheel Structure Will Showcase the Santa Ana Zoo; 15 Gondolas That Seat Up To Six Riders Each will Soar Up in the Air Carrying a Projected 65,000 Riders Every Year!

Cathi Decker, Executive Director of Friends of Santa Ana Zoo (FOSAZ), revealed plans today for the Zoo to add a "Fifty Monkey" Ferris Wheel. The 64-foot Wheel will be installed near the entrance to the Crean Family Farm, placing a signature stamp onto this family favorite area. Nestled between the Zoofari Express Train and the Conservation Carrousel, the Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel will become the perfect finishing touch for this local Zoo to present a total of three child-friendly attractions that can be shared and enjoyed by guests of all ages.

Uniquely designed to spotlight the Santa Ana Zoo's Fifty Monkey heritage, each fully-contained gondola will feature a description of a unique monkey species, furthering the Zoo's dedication to education and environmental conservation through the preservation of endangered species. Educational graphics telling the story of Joseph Prentice and the Fifty Monkeys will be found along the loading queue-line walkway.

"The Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel at the Santa Ana Zoo is certain to become one of the great landmark attractions," said FOSAZ Board President, David Exline. "There are very few opportunities in life to get involved with a project of this magnitude and uniqueness that can contribute to building a better community for generations to come. We believe that the Wheel will quickly become an iconic fixture, and we are proud and excited to bring it to the Santa Ana Zoo."

Built by best-in-class manufacturer and Ferris wheel innovator, CHANCE Inc., the Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel is engineered for long-term safety and success. "FOSAZ would like to thank Larry Breitenstein and CHANCE Inc. for designing and manufacturing a thatched-roof, century-style Wheel that will blend in seamlessly with the Zoo's thematic elements. FOSAZ would also like to thank Gordon Nelson and U.S. Bank on helping us to acquire the loan needed to fund the construction and the building of the Wheel to be paid off in seven years," said Executive Director, Cathi Decker.

The Wheel is expected to welcome as many as 65,000 happy riders per year, which, together with the Train and Carrousel, will generate a projected game changing gross income total of close to a million dollars annually! Executive Director, Cathi Decker, applied calculations based on the "synergy of three" (incremental ride increases based on a study of when three rides are together) to compute these numbers. Net revenue will be used for Zoo improvements which enhance the Zoo for visitors and its animal residents alike.

"As a partner in the advancement of the Santa Ana Zoo, I've seen first-hand what can be achieved when the City of Santa Ana and the non-profit sector work together," says Zoo Director, Kent Yamaguchi. "I want to thank everyone for helping to usher in this project that will produce added revenue to help the Zoo on an annual basis."

The Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel is expected be open 7 days a week (except on severe weather days and required maintenance days) from roughly 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, on the weekends; and 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on the weekdays. Rides will last approximately 10 minutes. During special events, the Wheel will stay open for longer hours. Construction is expected to begin fall 2016, with the goal of a grand opening in winter.

The Santa Ana Zoo is home to more than 260 animals, including 60 of the most interesting and engaging monkeys and several endangered species, like the golden lion tamarins. The Zoo is open daily from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. The Conservation Carrousel Rides are $3 each and Zoofari Express Train Rides are $4 each, and combo tickets are $6 each. Children under 2 are free to ride with paid adult on the Train and adults standing with children on the Carrousel are free.

June 30, 2015: The Friends of Santa Ana Zoo Receives $500,000 Gift from Local Resident
Longtime supporter and friend makes generous donation to the Santa Ana Zoo's conservation and education programs

The Friends of Santa Ana Zoo (FOSAZ), the non-profit support organization for the Zoo, today announced it has received a gift of more than $500,000 from one of its long-time Zoo members and supporters.

A resident of Orange County and Zoo member since 1997, this wonderful individual continually gave back to the Zoo by "adopting" animals and donating gifts to fund various animal care projects and education programs, and was a familiar face at the Zoo's annual fundraising gala Zoofari.

"We're honored to celebrate the life of a dear friend and wonderful advocate for the Santa Ana Zoo, and want to say thank you for sharing your heart and your success with the Zoo," says Cathi Decker, Executive Director, FOSAZ. "We are so appreciative to the local residents and FOSAZ members who continue to give to the community and commemorate their love for the Zoo through generous monetary donations, contributions and continued attendance."

To further support the Zoo's conservation and education programs, FOSAZ developed the Zoo Heritage Society endowment fund through the Orange County Community Foundation in 2014. A percentage of this gift will go to the Zoo's endowment program and help fund the Zoo's continued compliance with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' high standards for accredited zoos.

"The Santa Ana Zoo is so grateful for this gift," says David Exline, Board President, FOSAZ. "The home of the 50 monkeys has become a destination for thousands thanks to the support of our donors, as well as the continued contributions and advocacy of Orange County's leaders, the community, FOSAZ members, Zoo employees and guests."

The Santa Ana Zoo is home to more than 150 animals, including 50 of the most interesting and engaging monkeys and several endangered species, like the Golden Lion Tamarins. The gates open daily from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Admission is $10.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors and children 3-12 years. Children under 3 are free. The Conservation Carrousel Rides are $3 each and Zoofari Express Train Rides are $4 each, and combo tickets are $6 each. Children under 2 are free to ride with paid adult on the Train and adults standing with children on the Carrousel are free.

Camel Enclosure at the Zoo built by Eagle Scout Candidate

The camels at the Santa Ana Zoo needed a rain and shade structure for their new camel exhibit. Mariah and Lou Lou are Dromedary (one hump) camels who have been at the Zoo since last summer. The camels are very popular with Zoo guests, but they needed an appropriate shelter for bad weather. During the rainy months, they can get very dirty and muddy.

Hayden Hall, Eagle Scout Candidate, took on the project with gusto! He grew up near the Zoo and has fond memories of his visits. When asked he said, "there was no doubt where I would do my Eagle Project" when this opportunity came up. He recruited, coordinated and organized volunteers to design and construct the 12-foot tall, 450-square-foot rain and shade structure that complies with the AZA and USDA requirements. Hayden was singularly responsible for all of the fundraising to cover the costs of the materials as well.

Hayden Hall is with Boy Scout Troop 36 and completed the project on Feb. 15, 2011 in hopes to qualify for the coveted Eagle Scout Status. The camels are currently enjoying their new "oasis," and can be seen during regular Zoo hours.

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