$1M Endowment Fund Donated to Zoos Victoria
20 July 2017 at 4:28 pm
Zoos Victoria has received a $1 million gift establishing an endowment fund which is set to strengthen its long-term position as delivering world-leading zoo experiences.
The gift was made by the Bowness Family Foundation, created by philanthropist and businessman Bill Bowness AO who founded Wilbow Corporation in 1976, which grew to be one of Australia’s largest privately owned property development companies.
The Bowness Family Foundation has previously made significant donations to education, the arts and social inclusion initiatives.
Chair of the foundation and Zoo board member, Natasha Bowness, said the gift was an investment in the long-term future of Zoos Victoria.
“The endowment will build the financial sustainability of one of the state’s strongest and most loved public institutions. It will further cement the zoo’s position as one of the world’s leading zoo-based conservation organisations,” Bowness said.
Bowness said the strength of a public institution was always dependent on its financial sustainability and hoped the gift encouraged others to provide “much needed support for one of Victoria’s most visited and valued public icons”.
Zoos Victoria CEO Dr Jenny Gray said the organisation was humbled by the support and the affection people expressed for Melbourne’s zoos.
“While we are experts in animals and conservation, it is the support of Victorians that enable us to deliver world-class experiences for both animals and visitors at our three iconic venues,” Gray said.
She said the Bowness family had inspired the creation of a zoo endowment fund, which was a gift to the future and to zoo visitors for years to come.
“The interest from the fund will be used to develop the capacity of the organisation, deliver high quality education programs, improve animal welfare and fight the extinction of endangered species,” she said.
Zoos Victoria chair Anne Ward said: “The Bowness Family Foundation has sown a seed that will grow in substance over time and benefit the people of Victoria for many future generations.
“Zoos Victoria has 155 years’ proud tradition of engaging the community of Victoria with amazing animals; this gift will ensure that work continues for another 155 years.”
The zoo endowment is a perpetual fund managed by the Victorian Funds Management Corporation (VFMC) and overseen by the Zoos Victoria board.