Fresno Chaffee Zoo receives largest-ever donation from Club One chief Kirkland

Club One Casino owner Kyle Kirkland is a longtime advocate of animal welfare projects. Now, he’s making a splash with Fresno’s zoo.

Club One Casino owner Kyle Kirkland has made a significant gift to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo to kick off its Centennial Campaign. 

The donation comes ahead of the zoo’s 100th anniversary in 2029 and launches the plans for significant investment in exhibits and infrastructure in the coming years. 


The big picture: Kirkland gave a “seven-figure pledge,” according to a statement from the zoo. While the zoo did not reveal the exact amount, Kirkland’s pledge is the largest individual gift in the zoo’s history. 

  • His pledge will help the zoo achieve its recently announced masterplan as the 100th anniversary approaches. The zoo plans to provide new exhibits of regional flora and fauna, improved parking and support facilities as well as additional place-based education and entertainment venues. 

The backstory: Kirkland has long been a local supporter of animal welfare and serves as the chairman of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corporation, the board that oversees the zoo’s operations. 

  • He also founded the Kirkland Foundation in 2016, which supports animal welfare efforts across the Central Valley. 

What they’re saying: “My family’s gift today demonstrates our strong belief in the zoo’s mission and leadership, it’s position as a premier Central Valley destination and source of community pride, and our deep appreciation of the community’s ongoing support for our care for animals through Measure Z,” Kirkland said. “We hope other donors will follow our lead in the Centennial Campaign and invest in the jewel of the Central Valley.” 

  • Fresno Chaffee Zoo CEO Jon Forrest Dohlin added, “Our Centennial Campaign will supplement community support with philanthropic giving to protect the community’s investment, fund our ambitious masterplan and build an education endowment for future generations. We deeply appreciate Mr. Kirkland’s investment in the zoo and our community’s future.”
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