Mission statement: Wildlife conservation through education and participation. History: In 1994, a small group of people with a big dream began building a zoo for Brevard County. They wanted a place to escape from the increasing urban landscape, a place to get closer to nature, a place to experience the beauty of wildlife, and a place where students could explore the diversity of life on earth. Frank Vega, past publisher of Florida Today, recruited several community leaders to make this dream come true. Executives from the aerospace industry formed teams to work on architectural design and contributed labor to build the new zoo. A. Duda and Sons generously donated the land, with a prime location right off of I-95. The Brevard County Commissioners committed a revenue source from the Tourist Development Council bed tax. People with the means in the community formed a 303-member Founder’s Society which helped the Zoo match a $500,000 grant from the State of Florida. Thousands contributed monetary support by purchasing t-shirts and zoo memberships – all before the Zoo had even been built! This small band of dedicated people raised $3.5 million. With the resources in hand, the newly-minted Zoo Board recruited more than 16,000 volunteers to undertake the World’s Largest Modern Day Community Build. Leathers, Inc.—specialists in community builds—in partnership with zoo designers Basset and Wells created an elegant, functional design that would take advantage of available materials and a volunteer workforce. With hammer and nails at the ready, the local community began a16-week zoo construction project to make the dream a reality. In March 1994, Brevard Zoo opened to local acclaim. The original landscape design—featuring winding boardwalks through hardwood hammocks and intimate views of wildlife—set a standard for immersion that continues today. The central organizing principle of a middle loop with zoogeographical loops splitting off ensured that even after dramatic growth, guests were never more than a 10-minute walk from any amenity in the Zoo and never felt crowded. During planning and construction of the Zoo, great care was taken to preserve the native vegetation. Today, mature live oaks, palms, and pines all add to the natural beauty of the animal habitats set on 75 acres of land.