Binder Park Zoo Announces the Completion of the Joe and Clara Stewart African Tented Camp and Zamani School

Binder Park Zoo has officially announced the completion of the Joe and Clara Stewart African Tented Camp and Zamani School with 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 meet ADA standards for handicap accessibility. The Joe and Clara Stewart Zamani School is modeled after the original Zamani School in South 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 Zamani School are 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:

About Binder Park Zoo
Over 7,000,000 people have visited Binder Park Zoo and an additional 500,000 have been served through outreach programs since it was established in 1975.  Located outside of Battle Creek, Michigan, Binder Park Zoo sits on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands.  In the past 40 years, the Zoo has grown to be one of the region’s leading cultural attractions.  It was created on the model of an entrepreneurial, self-supporting, nonprofit organization, and is managed by a zoological society board of directors to “nurture empathy, understanding, and conservation of nature.”  In the last twenty years a conservation education center, a 40-acre natural wetlands exhibit, the 50-acre Wild Africa exhibit, and Conservation Carousel have been added to the original 80-acre zoo.  Binder Park Zoo serves over 60,000 people annually in 30 different types of formal education programs and is involved in conservation of wildlife and natural habitats on five continents.  In cooperation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and others, Binder Park Zoo is actively working to conserve a wide array of endangered species both at the Zoo and worldwide.