Zoo Miami has been awarded a million-dollar gift to renovate and expand the zoo’s Australian building.
The Gail S. Posner Trust granted the zoo $1.35 million, which will provide more space for a new cockatoo exhibit as well as support zoo education and koala conservation efforts. Posner, a longtime resident of Miami Beach and animal lover, left her money to a trustee to donate to organizations around the community.
The Gail S. Posner Trust Australian Complex, Sanford J. Schlesinger, Trustee, at Zoo Miami will enclose a 2,500-square-foot outdoor yard, which will provide more display space for the zoo’s three koalas — Cobber, 19, Danda-Loo, 18, and Sandy, 10. The enclosure will also make room for a group of Galah cockatoos, a gray and pink bird that populates Australia.
The gift’s conservation efforts will be funneled through the Australia-based Conservation Ecology Centre. The zoo will also develop an internship program through a partnership with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, provide a eucalyptus diet for the koalas and hire a Australian animal zookeeper and zoo educator to carry out programming for students.
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The zoo has a history of gracious donors, including a couple who anonymously donated millions of dollars over the course of three decades. Ron Magill, the zoo’s goodwill ambassador and communications director, identified the couple earlier this year as Albert and Winifred Sami after they passed away.
Zoo Director Eric Stephens said the Posner gift opens doors for more educational opportunities and exhibits for animal lovers.
“We’re very excited,” he said. “This will allow us to do a little something different as well as bring in a new species.”