The Heart of The New Sanford Children’s Zoo

Renowned philanthropist T. Denny Sanford made a $30 million donation – the largest single gift the San Diego Zoo has ever received. This generous gift will go toward the estimated $69 million cost of constructing a brand-new, completely reimagined children’s zoo, to be named The Sanford Children’s Zoo.

“This project is the most ambitious ever undertaken at the San Diego Zoo and will result in a one-of-a-kind children’s zoo for the 21st Century,” Mark Stuart, president of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global shared with Giving Back Magazine. “Denny Sanford’s philanthropy is all about making the world a better place for children. Thanks to his transformational investment, San Diego will have the very best children’s zoo in the world.”

When the new Sanford Children’s Zoo is completed, this reimagined 2.3-acre space will give kids greater opportunities to discover the natural world through play and will be designed in ways to help children develop empathy and better understand and identify with wildlife. More than 100 species will reside in the new Sanford Children’s Zoo as children will be able to venture through four distinct ecosystem habitats. These communities of plants and animals have unique adaptations for their environments and will awaken the senses while inspiring creativity and exploration.

Today, too few children have access to open space and natural places. The American Institute of Research estimates that more than half of at-risk youth have never spent time in a natural setting. The Sanford Children’s Zoo will be a no-cost destination for chaperoned school groups in San Diego County, including students from Title I schools who may have little or no exposure to the Earth’s animals, plants or habitats due to socioeconomic limitations or the lack of a safe place to go.

This year’s 35th annual Rendezvous In The Zoo (R·I·T·Z) Gala will benefit the new Sanford Children’s Zoo. T. Denny Sanford and The Tappan Family are this year’s honorary chairs. Every $1 donated to 2018 RITZ Gala will be generously tripled – up to $1 million – by the Tappan Family. Come be Wild at Heart with gala co-chairs Don and Kathryn Vaughn, Saturday, June 16, 2018, for a whimsical wonderland evening under the glittering stars!

To learn more about The Sanford Children’s Zoo project or make a donation visit You can also Go Wild at