MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Zoo announced on Tuesday a new campaign to raise funds to update their animal hospital facilities and services.

The $1.5 million Hospital Fund Campaign kicks off shortly before the 25th anniversary of the zoo hospital.

The original facility was built in 1998 and has been operating with the same equipment. But the zoo says as their collection of animals expands, so have their needs for their in-house services.

The facility currently cares for over 3,500 animals from around 500 species.

“Many of the animals that we keep here are not in good shape in the wild. Their status is unfortunately declining, so we work hard every day to not only maintain their physical health but also their genetic health,” said Memphis Zoo President and CEO Matt Thompson.

Senior veterinarian, Felicia Knightly gave us a look inside the zoo’s medical center, showing us a hydraulic surgical table that can hold up to 800 pounds.

“It is probably one of the pieces of equipment that takes a beating on a regular basis,” she said.

Knightly also talked about the need for improved lighting, small equipment, and major equipment like a CT scanner, ultrasound and x-ray machines.  

“Very frequently when we’re diagnosing issues nowadays we have such a huge variety of species and we’re hearing more and more when we go to conferences when we speak to colleagues over the phone, about, ‘can’t you just do a CT? Or can’t you just do this or do that,'” Knightly said.

However, headway has been made as an $800,000 donation from the late William “Billy” Dunavant, a Memphis businessman, was announced by his wife Tommie Dunavant.

“Always want to make sure people know these are his gifts. He just gave me the honor and the joy of being able to give his gifts. He just was a man who loved this city,” she said. “I just hope that his gift is an incentive for other people to get on board with this.”

For information about how you can donate, go to