ROYAL OAK, Mich., Feb. 28, 2014 – The William Davidson Foundation Fund has made a $3 million grant intention to the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) to support the development of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo. Construction of the $26 million facility will begin in the spring near the Zoo's entrance.

"This very generous grant will help us create an extraordinary conservation center of international significance for iconic polar animals – penguins of Antarctica. The center will highlight that incredible ice continent and the dramatic effect of global climate change," said Ron Kagan, DZS executive director and CEO.

"The Detroit Zoo is known regionally, nationally and internationally as a leader in the field of animal welfare, science education and visitor experience," said Jonathan Aaron, president, William Davidson Foundation. "Research and personal experience tell us that having strong cultural destinations, like the zoo, promote the region's growth and vitality. We are pleased to support this worthwhile and exciting project."

More than 100 design, engineering and construction jobs will be created and sustained for the estimated two-year development period of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, and the facility will add several full-time employees to the DZS staff. With an associated annual increase of 100,000 visitors, the new attraction is expected to have a regional economic impact of several million dollars per year, adding to the $100 million economic impact the Zoo already has on the region.

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton's legendary Antarctic expeditions and epic crossings of the Drake Passage, the facility's dramatic exterior design will evoke a tabular iceberg. The interior experience will feature 4-D effects such as arctic blasts, waves and snow, and will include a penguin "deep dive" with views above and below water as the birds dive and soar through a chilled 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area.

For more information or to make a philanthropic investment in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, visit http://dzoo.org/pcc.

The William Davidson Foundation, a family foundation, was established in 2005 in Detroit to honor its founder's memory by continuing his philosophy of giving. It is committed to efforts to preserve and enhance Jewish life in the United States and abroad. In addition, the foundation is funding efforts to improve the economic prosperity of its home community in southeastern Michigan in order to make the region an even more desirable place to work and to live.

The William Davidson Foundation established the William Davidson Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan in 2013.