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Friends of Santa Ana Zoo

 1801 E Chestnut Ave
 Santa Ana, CA 92701
[P] (714) 953-8555
[F] (714) 550-0346
[email protected]
Vanessa Anderson
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years No
Employer Identification Number 51-0160007 00000



Mission StatementMORE »

A nonprofit corporation organized to develop financial support, growth, and community awareness for the Santa Ana Zoo. The mission of the Santa Ana Zoo is "to instill a passion for the natural world through recreation, conservation, and education."

Mission Statement

A nonprofit corporation organized to develop financial support, growth, and community awareness for the Santa Ana Zoo. The mission of the Santa Ana Zoo is "to instill a passion for the natural world through recreation, conservation, and education."

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2019
Projected Expenses $440,000.00
Projected Revenue $705,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • California Red-legged Frog Returned to Orange County
  • Family Farm Habitat Renovations & Enhancements
  • Trees for the Future
  • Santa Ana Zoo Field Trip Sponsorships

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

A nonprofit corporation organized to develop financial support, growth, and community awareness for the Santa Ana Zoo. The mission of the Santa Ana Zoo is "to instill a passion for the natural world through recreation, conservation, and education."

Background Statement

The Friends of Santa Ana Zoo (FOSAZ) was founded in 1972 by a group of volunteers who shared the common goal of enhancing the Zoo's services and providing financial support for the needs of the animals. The organization received official tax-exempt status in September 1975 and initiated its first fundraising effort with the installation of the farm feed machines.

During the next 20 years, FOSAZ took on added responsibilities at the Zoo. The Friends began to coordinate and sponsor Zoo special events, manage the Zoo's gift shop, membership and adoption programs, provide public relations and marketing for the Zoo, and raise funds for Zoo improvements and animal acquisitions. FOSAZ maintains the Zoo's website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. FOSAZ has provided funding for Amazon's Edge, the Rainforest Conservation Exhibit, the Colors of the Amazon and Treetops Exhibit, and raised the roof on a variety of primate exhibits. The Friends also fund items that are not included in the City budget such as tree-trimming, medical equipment, staff development and animal enrichment materials.

An active Board of Directors currently oversees the Friends of Santa Ana Zoo. They had a vital role in the building of the Children’s Zoo, which introduces and educates visitors of the roles animals play on the farm. The Children’s Zoo consists of a two-acre replica of a traditional Orange County farm and features eight structures, a train ride and train depot plaza, and was completed at a cost of approximately $4.5 million. In 2008, FOSAZ funded the Conservation Carrousel near the train depot, providing children with carrousel rides and educational trading cards about endangered species on the carrousel. On April 17, 2010, the Tierra de las Pampas project opened with the assistance of funding from FOSAZ. This multi-species exhibit consists of giant anteaters, the first giant ones in Orange County, their third baby recently born, and a new area for the rheas and guanacos in a grasslands exhibit. The project's total cost was $1.2 million and focuses on educating children and Zoo guests about conservation efforts in the neo-tropics region. Zoo Memberships exceeded 6,000 households in 2012 and have increased over 40% over the last four years. In 2018, FOSAZ opened the Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel, the Zoo's third attraction and revenue generator, which details the Zoo's rich history as being the Home of the Fifty Monkeys while providing countless memories and having families soar 64 feet up in the air.

Through memberships, animal adoptions, the Zoo gift shop, rides, and fundraisers and grant-seeking efforts, Friends of Santa Ana Zoo has been able to support and improve the Zoo for over 40 years.

Impact Statement

 In 2018, the Zoo’s top accomplishments were:

  • The birth of new Zoo animals.
  • New Strategic Business and Master Plans approved by the Santa Ana City Council.
  • Grand opening of the Fifty Monkey Ferris Wheel, increasing revenue for the Zoo.
  • State-of-the-art habitat for Golden-Headed Lion Tamarins.
  • Record-breaking membership sales for the year.
The Zoo’s top goals in 2019 are:
  • To work on the Zoo’s newly approved Strategic Business and Master Plans.
  • To continue upgrading and improving the Zoo for the AZA accreditation process.
  • To continue fundraising for the Amazon’s Edge: Giant River Otter Habitat & Primate Trails renovation.
  • To begin fundraising for the Crean Family Farm Enhancements and Renovations.
  • To provide field trip opportunities for 20,000 students.
  • To serve 260,000 visitors this year.

Needs Statement

Needs Statement:

The Santa Ana Zoo’s most pressing needs are:


  • Building the new Giant River Otter Habitat & Primate Trails at Amazon's Edge, with underwater viewing classroom. $600,000
  • Enhancing the Crean Family Farm habitats and animal encounters. $400,000
  • Providing disadvantaged students the opportunity to visit the zoo. $12,000
  • Replacing diseased trees. The prolonged drought has weakened and killed many trees in the zoo that were not suited for an arid environment. $20,000
  • Providing children with additional playground/activity space. Our one existing play area is often overcrowded and children cannot get proper exercise time. $100,000


CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer

FOSAZ accepts restricted donations for various projects throughout the year, as well as unrestricted donations to support education, the animals, and general support for the Santa Ana Zoo. Checks are accepted, as well as online donations FOSAZ recruits volunteers to help greet guests at the front entrance, help with events such as Boo at the Zoo, and for clerical work in the office. A complete volunteer page is also available on the Zoo's website    

Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County

Organization Categories

  1. Animal Related - Zoos & Aquariums
  2. Education -
  3. Environment -



California Red-legged Frog Returned to Orange County

The California State Amphibian, the California red-legged frog (CRLF), disappeared from Orange County in the 1960s. This project aims to reestablish our state amphibian to Orange County and restore a top native aquatic predator to its streams and ponds. Reestablishing the California red-legged frog to these ecosystems will improve microhabitat function for multiple protected species.
Budget  $85,541.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Population Served Families
Program Short-Term Success 

Habitat suitability surveys will be conducted using the USGS Stream Survey Protocol (USGS 2006) at sites where perennial sources of water are found. Historic records of CRLF occurrence in southern California will be used to identify priority sites for these assessments. Stream habitat variables will be measured and compared to sites currently supporting CRLF populations to identify suitable translocation sites. Data loggers will be placed at deemed suitable sites to monitor water temperature and streamflow intermittency profiles critical to determining the stability of the sites. Monitoring these potential reestablishment sites will continue into later phases.

Program Long-Term Success 

A successful translocation plan is dependent on the information collected from the multiple survey types. Understanding the current population status and state of disease within the donor CRLF population and at potential reestablishment sites will be needed to best inform site selection and techniques applied to conduct the translocation. The genetic evaluation determining source populations will also increase the success of long term reestablishments. The demographic information collected will be used to determine the appropriate age class, timing, and numbers of individuals to be translocated. Having the best information available for the plan’s development will increase the likelihood of long term success.

Program Success Monitored By  Performance measures of the success of this project will be evaluated in stages: 1) identifying recipient and donor populations, 2) finalizing a translocation plan, 3) translocating CRLF to recipient ponds, 4) post-release monitoring indicating the survival and health of animals at recipient sites, and 5) The Education Department of the Zoo evaluates the effectiveness of programs at the Zoo and can incorporate a survey of the signage effectiveness. Additional goals include assessment of the successful breeding of frogs at repatriated sites. Monitoring for these goals will need additional funding sources.
Examples of Program Success  --

Family Farm Habitat Renovations & Enhancements

The Family Farm opened years ago and continues to be one of the focal points at the Zoo. Guests of all ages are able to learn about life on an Orange County farm while they feed goats and sheep and milk a replica cow. They have the opportunity to learn what it's like to care for farm animals, and learn about the roles rare breeds of animals play on farms. Since this Farm was put in place many years ago, it is now time to enhance the experience that we provide for families across Orange County to visit the Santa Ana Zoo. This program focuses on redeveloping animal encounters to include feeding and brushing areas and to redevelop existing resources and habitats that are not being fully utilized.
Budget  $400,000.00
Category  Animal-Related, General/Other Zoological Parks & Aquariums
Population Served Families Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Aging, Elderly, Senior Citizens
Program Short-Term Success  The more immediate achievements for the new Family Farm Renovations include the brand new goat trails. This elevated walkway will provide guests with new views and ways to see the farm animals interacting with each other and their surroundings. This will create a more enriching experience for the goats living in the farm. To further enhance the amazing experience at the Santa Ana Zoo for our guests, the farm's improvements will focus on allowing guests to get closer than ever before to these farm animals with redesigned feeding and brushing zones.
Program Long-Term Success  The Family Farm will include state-of-the-arts elevated walkways and trails for our goats and sheep. This redesign will allow for a rethinking of animal feeding and brushing zones in the Farm. This will include a redevelopment of an old habitat to be repurposed for  a new alligator or caiman. It will include a central adventure play zone for kids. This plan will include more defined and accessible visitor paths. There will also be landscape treatments to soften edges of buildings, paths, and exhibits. One last concept for the new Family Farm will be a more whimsical, farm, and "backyard" inspired graphics, sculpture play elements, etc.
Program Success Monitored By  This program will be seen daily by schoolchildren and families visiting the Santa Ana Zoo and the Family Farm. Through our extensive partnership with the City of Santa Ana, we will ensure that this program's implementation is successful. Guests will have the opportunity to submit guest satisfaction surveys to provide valued feedback on all of our new changes.
Examples of Program Success  --

Trees for the Future

Visitors to the Santa Ana Zoo often comment about how lush and green the zoo grounds are. Some of the trees in the Zoo are over 75 years old and the shade they provide creates a calm and tranquil setting to learn about the animals. The trees also help lower the temperatures throughout the zoo which is important to both our visitors’ and our animals’ health.

With our recent drought the zoo has instituted many water saving strategies. Many areas in the zoo have no irrigation and depend on rainfall to water the trees. With the prolonged dry spells, many of the trees have become weakened. Pesticides are sprayed in commercial gardens to protect the trees from insect attack. Since we cannot use pesticides in the zoo due to the animals being in close proximity to the plants, we have lost many trees. Most of these trees required lots of water to keep them healthy.

In order to maintain a verdant and healthy environment the zoo needs to plant new trees throughout the zoo to replace those that are not well suited for the arid Southern California climate. The new trees will require less water and be naturally resistant to insects and disease. Trees not only provide shade and block out the noises of the city but they also are used to supplement to zoo’s animal food supply (many of the animals eat leaves) and helps to substantially cut down on our food budget.

By planting trees now, the zoo will be a vibrant oasis in the city for years to come.

Budget  $20,000.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Botanical & Aquatic Gardens
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 

* 20 drought tolerant trees will be planted where sick trees have been removed.

* Visitors will note on the visitor surveys that the zoo is green and lush.

Program Long-Term Success 

* 10,000 square feet of shade will be added to the zoo providing comfortable viewing of the animals and cool, enjoyable areas for visitors to relax.

* Nesting areas for native birds will increase.

Program Success Monitored By 

Horticulturalists will utilize GIS mapping to determine shade cover and the arborist will monitor tree health on an annual basis.

Examples of Program Success  --

Santa Ana Zoo Field Trip Sponsorships

Santa Ana Zoo Field Trips are a collection of on-grounds programs that teachers and other educators can choose from when bringing their students to visit the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. With decreasing field trip budgets, increasing transportation costs, and additional stress placed on teachers to follow education standards these sponsorships/scholarships will allow educators to bring their students to the zoo for an educational program that aligns with education standards and connects students with the natural world around them. This is especially true with the disadvantaged, underserved communities within Santa Ana.

Over 16,000 students were served by on-grounds education programs during the 2013-2014 school year, with 5 classes (approx. 280 students) receiving scholarships for the program of their choice. (Currently, Field Trip Sponsorships are provided by private donors.) Teachers have a variety of programs to choose from to suit the grade level and goals of their classes. Formal programs are created by zoo staff and taught by staff and docents, are standards based, and include a variety of hands-on activities or a tour throughout the zoo. Teachers can also choose to do a self-guided tour, during which groups of students explore the zoo at their own pace with the use of provided guide materials.

As needed, these and new programs are developed and evaluated for content and alignment with education standards to provide the best experience to both teachers and students. With support from the community in the form of scholarships/sponsorships, more students will be able to visit the zoo, connecting with the animals and the natural environment. This is especially important for the students of Santa Ana and other disadvantaged communities, connecting the lessons learned in the classroom with the natural world, and fostering the students personal connections as well. Over the next year, we hope to serve 20,000 students, with Field Trip Sponsorships.

Budget  $850.00
Category  Education, General/Other Extracurricular Arts & Culture
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 

* All schools requesting program sponsorships for the 2014-2015 school year will have them granted, and programs completed.

The current waiting list for Field Trip Sponsorships has 3 classes that were not able to have field trip programs in the 2013-2014 school year due to insufficient funds from their schools. In the average year 5 classes request sponsorships to bring their students to the Zoo for a specific program. Short-term success of this program will be measured by all classes who are currently on the waiting list or request sponsorships for this school year having their requests fulfilled and their class(es) successfully attend a Zoo Program.

Program Long-Term Success 

* 10% of School Field Trip Programs will be Sponsored for disadvantaged schools, for 3 consecutive school years.

* Establish a sustainable Sponsorship program that provides $20,000 annually for Field Trips.

By creating a sustainable Sponsorship program, the zoo will be able to solicit schools serving disadvantaged communities to attend zoo programs. With an annual budget, schools can plan trips and programs for multiple grade levels over multiple school years. This will also increase the partnership between local schools and the zoo in accomplishing shared education standards and goals.

Program Success Monitored By 

The success of the Santa Ana Zoo Field Trip Program will be monitored by recording the number of sponsorship requests made relative to those fulfilled, and programs successfully executed. In the past, we have had classes stay on a waiting list as more funds are requested for their programs and we have had classes receive funds which have gone unused due to program cancellation. We will know that the program has succeeded when needy classes requesting Field Trip Sponsorships are able to receive funding from the program that is sufficient for the transportation and admission costs for their class.

Examples of Program Success  --


CEO/Executive Director Cathi Decker
CEO Term Start 2004
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience Cathi Decker, Executive Director, brings to the table skills and a leadership background from her positions at Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and SeaWorld as well as her director's position with of one of the largest animal rescue non-profits in Southern California. She is the perfect person to blend a broad business background with a passion for animals and the community that will lead the Zoo into the next decade. She has profitable ideas that reach out to the community and raise funds to enrich the quality of life for Santa Ana Zoo's animals. She received her undergraduate degree with honors in Communications from the University of California, San Diego. She went on to participate in two graduate programs. The first was the Masters of Public Relations and Advertising program at California State Fullerton. The second was the Business Management and Fundraising program at the University of California, Irvine. Cathi is a long time participant and presenter at numerous AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) national conferences. She is an Advisory Member for the AZA Advancement Committee and the Chair of the AZA Support Directors. Cathi has been with the Zoo since 1996.

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 4
Number of Part Time Staff 38
Number of Volunteers 500
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%
Staff Professional Development Yes

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 4
Caucasian: 17
Hispanic/Latino: 20
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 28
Male: 14
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? --
Organization has Strategic Plan? --
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy --
Whistle Blower Policy --
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? --
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency -- --
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency -- --
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency -- --

Government Licenses


CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair David Exline
Board Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Chair Term 2014 - 2018
Board Co-Chair Lori Babcock
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term 2014 - 2018

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Armando Armenta -- --
Lori Babcock -- --
Roseanne Bye -- --
Edward Carroll -- --
David Exline -- --
Curtis Farrell -- --
Howard Hall -- --
John Harper -- --
Nathan Hittle -- --
Michele Levison -- --
Patty McClendon -- --
Meredith McCombs -- --
Patti Mickey -- --
Jane Olin -- --
Scott Patton -- --
Marie Rourke -- --
Dee Thomas -- --

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 13
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 10
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 8
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria --
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy --
Percentage of Monetary Contributions --
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Board Orientation --

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments


Standing Committees



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019
Projected Revenue $705,000.00
Projected Expenses $440,000.00
Form 990s

2017 Form 990

2016 Form 990

2015 Form 990

2014 Form 990

2013 Form 990

2012 Form 990

Audit Documents

Audited Financials [1]

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $1,561,865 $2,033,124 $2,029,910
Total Expenses $1,432,951 $1,581,136 $1,468,744

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$214,919 $685,408 $785,239
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- $0
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- -- $0
Earned Revenue $690,218 $749,539 $532,508
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- $6,434 $4,444
Membership Dues $521,448 $466,410 $431,462
Special Events $129,675 $125,333 $104,593
Revenue In-Kind -- -- $0
Other -- -- $171,664

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $779,595 $943,696 $886,439
Administration Expense $653,356 $637,440 $582,305
Fundraising Expense -- -- $0
Payments to Affiliates -- -- $0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.09 1.29 1.38
Program Expense/Total Expenses 54% 60% 60%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 0% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $3,912,060 $3,458,997 $1,969,090
Current Assets $1,047,794 $1,872,493 $836,312
Long-Term Liabilities $1,159,090 $951,668 $0
Current Liabilities $343,521 $313,930 $261,918
Total Net Assets $2,409,449 $2,193,399 $1,707,172

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 3.05 5.96 3.19

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 30% 28% 0%
Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? --
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

CEO Comments

     Unlike many nonprofits, FOSAZ, in addition to being a fundraising organization, is also responsible for many Zoo Operations including: rides, events, marketing, maintenance, memberships, rentals, the Gift Shop, and the personnel to support these.
     Our portion spent on Administration is shown at a higher than expected percentage due to these reasons. Grants, donor funds and sponsorships are kept in separate restricted accounts to be used for those specific programs indicated.

Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the Form 990s and consultation with the organization. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.