Better Business Bureau Report for
Lincoln Park Zoo

Better Business Bureau Report issued March 2014
Better Business Bureau Report expires March 2016

Does not meet one or more standards
This charity does not meet one or more of the 20 standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

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Charity Contact Information

Name: Lincoln Park Zoo
Address: 2001 N. Clark St.
  Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: 312-742-2000
Web Address:
Also known as:The Lincoln Park Zoological Society
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1868, Illinois
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: Mission: Lincoln Park Zoo is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience in the heart of Chicago and by advancing the highest quality of animal care, education, science and conservation.

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Evaluation Conclusions


Lincoln Park Zoo does not meet the following 4 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 6: Board Policy on Effectiveness - Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

Lincoln Park Zoo does not meet this Standard because:

  • The board of directors does not have a written policy stating that, at least every two years, an appraisal be done assessing the organization’s performance and effectiveness and determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

Standard 11: Financial Statements - Make available to all, on request, complete annual financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. When total annual gross income exceeds $500,000, these statements should be audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $500,000, a review by a certified public accountant is sufficient to meet this standard. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $250,000, an internally produced, complete financial statement is sufficient to meet this standard.

Lincoln Park Zoo does not meet this Standard because:

  • Its audited financial statements were not audited in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards (GAAS).
  • Its audited financial statements were not prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Standard 14: Budget - Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

Lincoln Park Zoo does not meet this Standard because, when the organization provided budget information, it indicated that the budget:

  • Did not identify total projected program service expenses.
  • Did not identify total projected fund raising expenses.
  • Did not identify total projected administrative expenses.
  • Included total projected program service expenses, however, did not break these expenses down by major program category.

Standard 17: Web Site Disclosures - Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

Lincoln Park Zoo does not meet this Standard because the organization's website,, does not include all of the recommended information for those charity websites that solicit for donations. Specifically, it does not include:

  • A summary of program service accomplishments.
  • A roster of the board of directors.
  • Total income.
  • Total program expenses.
  • Total fund raising expenses.
  • Total administrative expenses.
  • End of year net assets.
In addition, the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s governance and oversight, effectiveness measures, solicitation materials, donor privacy, and fundraising disclosures and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following 6Standards for Charity Accountability: 1, 3, 7, 15, 18, and 19.
Lincoln Park Zoo meets the remaining 10 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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Conservation & Science: One of the largest zoo-based conservation and science programs in the country, Lincoln Park Zoo’s Conservation & Science Department is dedicated to improving animal management and wildlife conservation. Zoo scientists combine expertise in a range of disciplines to identify threats to zoo and wild populations and develop strategies to ensure their continued existence. Animal Care: The animals Lincoln Park Zoo exhibits serve as ambassadors for their wild cousins. From reclusive reptiles to massive mammals, the species in Chicago educate visitors on animal facts and help zoo scientists protect wildlife around the world. Education: In educating visitors about animals, Lincoln Park Zoo creates multiple opportunities for visitors of all ages and backgrounds to have meaningful experiences at the zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo invites you to feel connected, committed and curious in their wild classroom.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013, Lincoln Park Zoo's program expenses were:

Animal collection and conservation 8,586,876
Buildings and grounds 4,061,090
Public education 2,791,222
Construction 2,754,131
Visitor services 2,173,480
Events 1,538,596
Membership 485,670
Facility rental 259,619
Total Program Expenses: $22,650,684
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Chief Executive : Kevin Bell, President and CEO

Chair of the Board: John R. Ettelson
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: President and CEO, William & Blair Company, LLC

Board Size: 54

Paid Staff Size: 348

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

direct mail, invitations to fund raising events, grant proposals, internet, planned giving arrangements, membership
Fund raising costs were 4% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $38,398,147, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
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Tax Status


This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
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The following information is based on Lincoln Park Zoo's audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013.

Source of Funds  
Contributions, grants, and development 32,708,147
Investment Income 7,885,607
Visitor Services 6,322,234
Chicago Park District Subsidy 5,690,000
Events revenue 1,873,551
Membership dues and activities 1,269,718
Facility rental revenue 1,024,821
Other Income 839,629
Total Income $57,613,707


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 85%  Fund Raising: 6%  Administrative: 9% 

Total income $57,613,707
Program expenses $22,650,684
Fund raising expenses 1,723,400
Administrative expenses 2,486,307
Total expenses $26,860,391
Income in Excess of Expenses 30,753,316
Beginning net assets 44,292,152
Ending net assets 75,045,468
Total liabilities 43,411,531
Total assets $118,456,999

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An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.

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