Indianapolis Colts Owner Donates $1M to Indianapolis Zoo

Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, is donating $1 million to the Indianapolis Zoo to build a new welcome center plaza at the zoo, named after the Colts.

“The Indianapolis Zoo is a world leader in wildlife and natural conservation and oversees efforts and projects that are truly making a difference across the globe,” Irsay said. “Not only is the zoo making great strides to preserve nature around the world, but it also provides world-class educational and entertainment opportunities for the entire Indianapolis community and makes our city an even better place to call home.”

Irsay announced the donation on November 20, 2022, during the Colts vs. Eagles game and followed that with a press release. According to the release, the donation will help support the zoo’s dedication to “protecting nature and inspiring people to care for the natural world.”

The nonprofit Indianapolis Zoo, located in White River State Park near downtown Indianapolis, is one of the largest privately funded zoos in the country. It is actually a zoo, an aquarium, and a botanical garden, all on a 64-acre campus. It holds over 235 species of animals and sees 1.1 million guests a year. It also hosts a prize each year to recognize outstanding conservationists.

Irsay’s money, while earmarked only for an aesthetic project meant to make the Indianapolis Zoo more accessible and attractive to guests, will still contribute to its mission of giving the public greater insight into the importance of conservation.

Irsay, who made his fortune in heating and air conditioning companies, has owned the Colts since 1997. His father owned the team when he was a child, and he served on the Colts’ professional staff as a young man. He’s known more for extravagant purchases than for philanthropy, but this donation may perhaps be a step to change that.

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