The Birmingham Zoo was recently awarded the prestigious 4-star rating for good governance, sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency by Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities. The Birmingham Zoo is currently the only zoo in Alabama with such a high rating, one of six non-profits in the metro area to have a 4-star rating and one of only 21 zoos in the country to receive a 4-star rating. “We are honored to receive Charity Navigator’s highest rating,” says Jesse Vogtle, Chairman of the Birmingham Zoo’s Board of Directors. “This distinction reflects our accountability to all constituents and commitment to our mission to ‘Inspire Passion for the Natural World’ through our work in education, research and conservation.”
Charity Navigator works to help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing information on more than five thousand charities nationwide and by evaluating their financial health. It calculates each charity’s score based upon several broad criteria, including how much is spent per dollar raised, what percentage of funds goes to programs versus administrative and fundraising expenses, and the organization’s long-term financial health. It then assigns a rating from one to four, with four being the best rating. “This high rating, coupled with the Birmingham Zoo’s record attendance last year, highlights our focus on good stewardship of charitable contributions and public trust,” says Dr. William R. Foster, Birmingham Zoo President and CEO.
The Zoo’s recent history of responsible financial management makes it highly visible to prospective donors, as evidenced by Alabama Power Foundation’s recent award of a $75,000 grant to the Zoo’s Kiwanis ZooSchool program. A check was presented to Dr. William R. Foster by Tony Smoke, North Area Manager of the Birmingham Division of Alabama Power. Kiwanis ZooSchool is an interdisciplinary program designed by the Birmingham Zoo that provides a unique and interactive educational experience to one-third of the seventh grade students attending Birmingham City Schools. Students participating in the program are taught a week long curriculum based on the Birmingham Zoo’s Trails of Africa exhibit that is designed to reinforce the value of student achievement in the classroom. Each instructional goal and objective embedded in the Kiwanis ZooSchool curriculum serves to increase student achievement. “This generous grant from Alabama Power Foundation will help expand Kiwanis ZooSchool within Birmingham City Schools and promote the program at other zoos across the nation,” says Dr. William R. Foster. Alabama Power Foundation supports programs, organizations and projects in the areas of education, community, health and human services, arts and culture, and the environment.
Approximately 800 animals of 200 species call the Birmingham Zoo home, including sea lions, zebras, rhinos and endangered species from six continents. The Zoo is the only Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited institution in the state of Alabama and ranks in the top ten percent of accredited animal holding facilities in the nation.