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Posted at 11:01 AM ET, 08/05/2011

The Zoo’s pizza playground won’t close

Fear not, fans of the pizza playground at the National Zoo. The rubber pie is staying put.

The pizza area where scores of young children crawl and toddle had been in danger of closing. Zoo officials had said earlier this year that because of budget cuts, it would be shuttered along with the beloved Kids’ Farm next door. Last month, State Farm saved the Kids’ Farm with a $1.4 million donation to the Zoo to support the farm for the next five years.
The Giant Pizza Playground at The National Zoo. (Gerald Martineau - The Washington Post)

Amid the celebrations, it was unclear what fate would befall the play area. A fundraiser at the Zoo held last weekend, in the teeth of the region’s heat wave, collected only $2,000. It’s been estimated that $60,000 is needed for renovation. “We have quite a ways to go,” said Zoo spokeswoman Jennifer Zoon.

But Zoon said the pizza will remain open no matter. “Our plan is to fully refurbish the Pizza once we have funding to do so. In the meantime, the current Pizza Playground will remain open.”

The Zoo is hoping the fundraising initiatives it launched tied to the farm will bring in revenue. Proceeds from the sale of mini play farms and buttons that read “I Helped Saved The Farm” are now planned to go both to the farm area (which is still $100,000 short of its goal) and the play area.

A handful of local businesses have also joined the effort. Money will go to the zoo with certain purchases through August 7th at, among others, Cleveland Park’s Firehook Bakery, Georgetown Cupcake and, appropriately, downtown’s Upper Crust Pizzeria.

By  |  11:01 AM ET, 08/05/2011

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