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Friends of the Zoo

Zoo Wide Animal Banner 1

Goals of the Friends of the Zoo

The goals and objectives of the Friends of the Zoo Inc. are to promote and support the Magnetic Hill Zoo and its programs in conservation, education, research, and recreation.  Also, to create and improve facilities and environments of the animals at the Zoo. 

Over the years, the Friends of the Zoo have funded the construction of many projects at the Zoo, including five award winning exhibits named the Ecodome, Pridelands, Cougar Country, Jaguar Junction, and the Amur Cat Project.

Example fundraisers conducted by the Friends of the Zoo include Sunday Winter Openings, Easter EGGstravaganza, Adopt a Friend, FunZOOla, Boo at the Zoo, and Wild Lights.

Current Fundraising Project

All funds raised will be put towards the zoo’s next animal habitat improvement project.

Friends of the Zoo Volunteers

  • Volunteers are needed to assist with the aforementioned fundraisers. (Volunteers do not work directly with the animals.)
  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • Must have a functional email address
  • Must provide 2 references who can be contacted via email
  • Must strive to be a good representative of the Magnetic Hill Zoo, Friends of the Zoo Inc, and the City of Moncton

The Friends of the Zoo reserves the right to dismiss or deny volunteers.

History of the Friends of the Zoo

The Magnetic Hill Zoo and Friends of the Zoo have enjoyed a unique relationship for many years; one that is the envy of many “Friends of the Zoo” groups across Canada. 
Magnetic Hill Zoo Photo 8A clear understanding was established that the Friends of the Zoo was a fundraising group and that all improvements to Magnetic Hill Zoo would become the property of the corporation of the City of Moncton. It was also understood that the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Zoo were not a management board and that all-operational or programming initiatives and changes were to be discussed with the zoo manager. This was to ensure that the programs would be consistent; management would be familiar with and in agreeance with the content and presentation; and the initiatives would fall within the guidelines, philosophy, and policies of the Magnetic Hill Zoo and the City of Moncton.

As in any partnership, trust is essential and earned through open communication to ensure successful completion of co-operative projects and initiatives. Magnetic Hill Zoo Photo 9

Three individuals started the Friends of the Zoo in 1989, with the prime objective of raising funds to improve animal habitats at the Magnetic Hill Zoo. The group was very small, consisting initially of Shirley Dingley, Deborah Fisher, and Bruce Dougan. In the first year, Carolyn Dunlop also joined the group and they concentrated on developing the Adopt-A-Friend program. The start-up and support costs were borne by the City of Moncton to enable the Friends of the Zoo to build up a large enough bank account to make improvements to various animal habitats at the Zoo.

Many fundraisers have taken place over time, including a casino night called “safari night,” an auction night called “Lions & Bears at the Fox & Hound,” a golf tournament, the Easter EGGstravaganza, Sunday March Winter Openings, Adopt a Friend, and Boo at the Zoo. Boo at the Zoo has grown to be the biggest fundraiser of the year attracting over 14,000 people and making $60,000 after expenses in 2008.

Magnetic Hill Zoo Photo 10The Magnetic Hill Zoo/Friends of the Zoo partnership has successfully completed many projects over the last 20 years that include, but are not exclusive, to the camel/zebra house, eland/watusi house, primate conservation center, winter birdhouse, black bear exhibit, land expansion of the otter exhibit, Ecodome, new Education Center, Pridelands, and Cougar Country. The Magnetic Hill Zoo has received national recognition from CAZA, the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, by receiving the Environmental Enrichment Award on four occasions for the Ecodome, Pridelands, Cougar Country, and Jaguar Junction. This award was presented for our outstanding work in improving the environment in which animals are held and thereby enriching their lives.

In 2008, many changes were made to the Friends of the Zoo and the Education Department; and their relationship with the City of Moncton. Sources of revenue and responsibilities were exchanged between the City of Moncton and the Friends of the Zoo to ensure a better definition between the two organizations and to better meet the needs of all parties. The City of Moncton assumed responsibility and revenues for the Wild Things Gift Boutique and the Education Department. In exchange, the outstanding balance on the interest free loan for the new Education Center was cancelled and the Friends of the Zoo no longer have to pay the City of Moncton a flat fee for running special events in City facilities.

In recent years, the Friends of the Zoo have continued to host the four major fundraisers which are all special events: the Sunday Winter Openings, Easter EGGstravaganza, FunZOOla, and Boo at the Zoo Scaredy-Cats. FunZOOla is a carnival based event, held every June, which includes activities such as inflatables, live musical entertainment, face painting, and games.

In 2011, the Board of the Friends of the Zoo discontinued the evening portion of the Boo at the Zoo events because of volunteer fatigue, high overhead costs to host the event with high risk of poor weather, and safety concerns for the visitors, staff, and volunteers. The Board chose to focus its efforts on enhancing the daytime Boo at the Zoo event to target the fastest growing demographic of attendees, families with young children. The event was renamed as Boo at the Zoo Scaredy-Cats, has been well received, and more than 6000 visitors have enjoyed the event each year.

For the first time ever, the Friends of the Zoo have embarked on a non-event based fundraiser called the Big Cats Campaign. This large scale capital campaign is run by campaign staff and volunteers who seek donations from various levels of government, local businesses, community groups, and individuals. The donations received through this campaign will be used to build an Asian section in the Zoo, which will include Amur tigers, Amur leopards, and barn owls.

The Education Department & the Friends of the ZooMagnetic Hill Zoo Photo 11

In 1992, the Friends of the Zoo decided that the development of education programs was much needed.  Under the directorship of Deborah Fisher and with the help of Pat Bourgeois and Greig Longaphie,  these programs were launched in the attic of the old operations building. In order to give the Friends of the Zoo more profile, it was decided to operate these education programs under the umbrella of the Friends of the Zoo but all funding, etc., was kept separate under the Magnetic Hill Zoo Education Fund. The Education Programs continued to expand over the next few years, and eventually a separate education facility was required. At that time, the City of Moncton was offered a large industrial arts trailer in Richibucto for $1.00. The City of Moncton provided the funds for the relocation of the trailer along with much needed upgrades including a level location for the building; new siding, roof, doors, washroom, and office; and running hot water.

For the first several years that the Education Programs operated, Debbie Fisher and Bruce Dougan oversaw all hiring, programming, revenue, and expenses. In 1993, the programs won national recognition with the “Tom Baines Award” and again in 1997 with an outstanding “Achievement Award.” These awards were awarded by CAZA.
Magnetic Hill Zoo Photo 14In 1999 and 2000, a full time Education Coordinator was hired to expand the Education Programs into all seasons to include outreaches and camps during the planned school breaks. For several of the following fall/winter seasons, there was a lapse in the full time, year round Education Coordinator position, however, the summer day camp program continued to grow to the point that a new, bigger Education Center was needed.

In 2003, the Friends of the Zoo built the new Education Center in the same location as the old Education Center. The new center included a discovery center for the public; and 3 classrooms, a kitchen, 2 washrooms, a first aid room, and an office specifically for the Education Department and its programs. The City of Moncton provided the Friends of the Zoo an interest free loan to repay the outstanding balance on the mortgage over a ten year period.Magnetic Hill Zoo Photo 16

In 2005, the Education Coordinator position was reintroduced as a full time, year round contract position. Programming throughout the year was reintroduced to include hosted birthday parties, overnight camps, day camps during planned school breaks, outreaches, intouches, and summer day camp.

As the success of Education Department continued to grow, the City of Moncton assumed responsibility of the department in January 2008 and later made the Coordinator position a permanent unionized position with a new title, the Visitor & Education Programs Coordinator. The new position includes additional responsibilities, some of which relate specifically to the Friends of the Zoo, which include coordinating the Friends of the Zoo’s special events, the volunteer program, and the implementation of the Adopt a Friend program.