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Kohl’s to keep Milwaukee zoo patrons wild for theater

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Kohl’s wants to keep its Wild Theater program at the Milwaukee County Zoo alive and well, so it plans continued support through a $1.5 million donation throughout a three-year period to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County.

Kohl’s Wild Theater program is a live, interactive, participatory theater that uses drama, puppetry and songs to bring conservation messages to children and families. The funding will allow Kohl’s Wild Theater to expand its show repertoire to include a total of 15 unique shows, add new puppets for stage and exhibit performances and make improvements to the stage and theater area at the zoo, including a raised stage floor, shaded stage area and a theater green room for the cast. The donation comes from the Kohl’s Cares cause merchandise program, which sells special merchandise, including plush toys and books, and donates 100% of the net profit to benefit children’s health and education initiatives nationwide.

Recognized as one of the country’s finest zoological attractions, the Milwaukee County Zoo serves more than 1.3 million people each year. Through an initial $1 million donation from Kohl’s Cares in 2010, the Kohl’s Wild Theater program was created and has quickly grown to become the country’s largest zoo theater program. Kohl’s Wild Theater performances are free with admission to all zoo attendees. Performing teams also travel to schools and local community events at no charge. 

“Kohl’s is proud to continue our partnership with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County to bring lessons about conservation, wildlife and natural animal habitats to life for Wisconsin kids,” said Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and CEO. “The Milwaukee County Zoo is a well-known family destination in our hometown community, and at Kohl’s we share their commitment to enriching the lives of area children and families through educational programming like Kohl’s Wild Theater.” 

The Kohl’s Wild Theater program consists of two main components. One is Kohl’s Wild Theater, which is located in the children’s area of the zoo and hosts performances focused on conservation and the importance of caring for the animals and the environment. Zoo performances take place during the summer months. The other is a year-round community outreach program wherein Kohl’s Wild Theater performers travel into the community to give 30- to 45-minute performances at various venues, including schools, libraries, community centers and major special events. 

“Kohl’s Wild Theater has become one of the best zoo theater programs in the country thanks to Kohl’s tremendous support,” said Dr. Bert Davis, president and CEO of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Kohl’s and provide quality programming designed to inspire children to care more about conservation and learn ways to help animals.”

Established in 1910, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County is a private nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve wildlife and endangered species, educate people about the importance of wildlife and the environment and support the Milwaukee County Zoo. The ZSM has about 54,000 member households and gave $6.6 million in support to the Zoo in 2011-12. 

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