OAKLAND -- The Oakland Zoo has received a $1 million check from an anonymous donor, the zoo announced Friday.

A letter from The San Francisco Foundation arrived Friday with the check -- $1 million from the Serendipity Fund. A message to zoo president and CEO Joel Parrott simply indicated that a donor had advised the grant was to be used for general purposes.

The zoo's director of development, Emma Lee Twitchell called the San Francisco Foundation, learning only that the donor wished to be anonymous and that no other information was available.

"Every now and then, something truly extraordinary occurs at the Oakland Zoo that causes me to just shake my head in disbelief, and be thankful," Parrott said. "We received an unsolicited anonymous unrestricted donation of $1 million for the zoo, distributed by the San Francisco Foundation. This has never occurred on this scale before. It is simply a gift. "

The funds might be especially welcome at the zoo this year. In November, its Measure A1 parcel tax -- which would have generated $112 million over a 25-year span for zoo operations -- failed to pass.

Officials say the Oakland Zoo has experienced significant growth in admissions during the year, hosting nearly 700,000 guests, and its animal collection has increased with new births, including a giraffe, otters, and new arrivals include a female gibbon and hyenas.


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