BinderPark Zoo Announces the Completion of the Joe and Clara Stewart African Tented Camp and Zamani School.

Binder ParkZoo has officially announced the completion of the Joe and Clara Stewart African Tented Camp and ZamaniSchoolwith a ribbon cutting ceremony and community celebration.  Situated along the northern edge of the 18-acre savannah in Wild Africa, the camp consists of eight wood-framed structures, built on stilts with attached decking and a removable canvas tent. Designed to be an authentic African safari experience, each tent contains cots for sleeping and can accommodate five to eight guests for a total of up to 50 guests. Two of the eight tents meetADA standards for handicap accessibility. The Joe andClaraStewartZamaniSchool is modeled after the originalZamaniSchool inSouth Africa which was dedicated to the Stewarts as a tribute to their global philanthropic values.  The multi-purpose building will serve as mess hall, meeting place and educational center complete with kitchen, restrooms, classroom and storage area. On display in the school building will be South African artifacts and important memorabilia donated from the Stewarts’ private collection.

The major focus of this project is to improve and expand the cultural and educational programming that Binder Park Zoo offers. A key component will be a curriculum designed to provide an educational experience that teaches the beauty of the African culture in a way that opens minds, challenges prejudices, encourages respect, and cultivates “Ubuntu”- the South African philosophy of “humanity towards others”.

“Overnight guests will wake up in the morning to the sounds and sights of giraffe, zebra, impala, ostrich and bontebok descending upon the savannah and have an unforgettably rich African experience that no other zoo within a three hour drive of lower Michigan offers.” states Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo President and CEO. “The generous lead gift and great dedication of the Stewart family to this project enables us to advance our mission to ‘nurture empathy, understanding and conservation of nature’ on a much grander scale by engaging children and families in something wholly unique.”
Each of the eight tent structures will bear the name of the sponsoring individual or organization. They include CSM Group, Worgess Insurance Agency, Caroline and Vincent Pavone Family, Mary Howell,  Feldpausch Foundation, Al Miller, Motor Shop Electrical Construction and the Battle Creek and Marshall Rotary Clubs.  “The generous commitment of these individuals has the potential to make an important difference in the lives of our guests for generations to come, as well as impacting the preservation of our natural world.” states Thompson.

The Joe and Clara Stewart African Tented Camp and ZamaniSchoolare part of a $3 million dollar capital campaign that was launched in 2013, the “Lions, Tortoise & Bears…Oh My” campaign, and joins two successfully completed exhibits: American Black Bear and Giant Aldabra Tortoise.  Efforts will continue to complete funding for the African Lion Exhibit. To learn more about the “Lions, Tortoise, & Bears…Oh My!” capital campaign visit: www.binderparkzoo.org/lions.