Mercantil Commercebank Launches Zoolens Photography Project, a Photography Contest with Metrozoo and ZSF

Mercantil Commercebank Launches Zoolens Photography Project, a Photography Contest with Metrozoo and ZSF

Post Date:4/15/2010

     Cristina Planas
     (305) 663-3543

Mercantil Commercebank Launches Zoolens Photography Project, a Photography Contest in Conjunction with Miami Metrozoo and
the Zoological Society of Florida

Pilot program with Miami-Dade County Public Schools designed to encourage understanding of wildlife and appreciation for the arts among students

Coral Gables, FL (April 13, 2010) – Mercantil Commercebank, one of the largest banks headquartered in Florida, in partnership with Miami Metrozoo and the Zoological Society of Florida, today introduced the Zoolens Photography Project, a pilot program designed to foster a deeper understanding of the world’s wildlife, while encouraging the arts among Miami-Dade County Public School students. 

The project will broaden students’ artistic expression and appreciation of the beauty of nature through photography.  Additional partners in the pilot program include Olympus Imaging America, Inc. and the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).  Participating schools and students will be eligible to receive various prizes, as well as financial support for their arts programs.

The pilot phase of the Zoolens Photography Project will focus on eighth graders in eight Miami-Dade County middle schools within Mercantil Commercebank’s trading areas.  Working with the art teachers at the participating schools, students will take a field trip to Miami Metrozoo on April 27th, where they will be given digital cameras and allowed to express their artistic talent by photographing the zoo animals.  

 “We are very excited to be collaborating with Miami Metrozoo on this pilot project, and believe that photography is an ideal venue through which we can promote awareness of wildlife among young men and women,” said Millar Wilson, President & CEO of Mercantil Commercebank.

“With the many cutbacks in arts programs in public schools, we believe it is important to help support this fundamental part of a child’s education.” 

Mercantil Commercebank has a long history of involvement with Miami Metrozoo, including a very active participation on the Board of the Zoological Society of Florida. 
“The Bank’s support of the photographic arts is commendable,” adds Zoological Society of Florida President & CEO Nestor Rodriguez. “Expanding awareness of the world’s wildlife through different mediums and educating children about these extraordinary creatures is in line with our mission.” 

Three overall winners will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges that includes internationally acclaimed photo-artist María Martínez-Cañas, New World School of the Arts Visual Arts professor and curator Rosario Martínez-Cañas, Miami Metrozoo’s Director of Communications and renowned photographer and wildlife expert Ron Magill, Miami Herald photographer Suzanne Lee Mast, and long-time Miami photographer Alex Gort, Jr.
First, second and third place finishers, along with the Student Choice Award Winner, will be eligible for a variety of prizes, ranging from Miami Metrozoo Family Memberships, Olympus cameras, Mercantil Commercebank Savings Accounts, and student memberships in the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA).  All participating schools will also receive a donation to their respective art departments.
“Mercantil Commercebank has a long tradition of community involvement with the arts and education in Miami-Dade County,” concludes Wilson. “Zoolens Photography Project will create a positive venue through which students can not only hone their photographic skills, but further their appreciation for wildlife.”

The long-term goal of the Zoolens Photography Project is to broaden the number of participating schools, allowing an increasing number of Miami-Dade County Public School students to participate in this innovative program.

Mercantil Commercebank N.A. is one of the largest banks in South Florida serving its community for 30 years.  Mercantil Servicios Financieros (MSF), a Venezuelan company, beneficially owns the Bank through U.S. bank holding companies.  MSF is the largest provider of financial services in Venezuela with more than 85 years of experience. Mercantil Commercebank has assets of $6.0 billion. The Bank is headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida and has 17 Banking Centers - 15 located in South Florida; one in Manhattan, New York; and one in Houston, Texas. The Bank offers a wide variety of domestic, international, personal and commercial banking services, including investment, trust, and estate planning through its subsidiaries, Mercantil Commercebank Investment Services, Inc. and Mercantil Commercebank Trust Company, N.A. For more information, please visit

Editor’s Note:  There’s another bank in South Florida whose moniker includes the word ‘Mercantile.’   Please note that we are MERCANTIL COMMERCEBANK. Thank you.

Miami Metrozoo, rated one of the top ten zoos in the U.S. by in 2008, houses more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats and provides visitors the feel of a safari. Large open air exhibits, a children’s zoo, tram rides, family cycles, a monorail and interactive exhibits make Miami Metrozoo, also named one of America’s Best Zoos and the number one Zoo for Pachyderms in 2008 by The Intrepid Traveler, a unique experience for visitors of all ages.

Miami Metrozoo is located at 12400 SW 152 Street, Miami, FL 33177. General zoo admission is: $15.95 per adult and $11.95 per child (3-12), plus tax.  Hours are 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; ticket booths close at 4 p.m.  For more information, please visit or call
(305) 251-0400.


The Zoological Society of Florida, awarded four stars in 2009 by America's premier independent charity evaluator Charity Navigator, was founded in 1956, and is the non-profit support organization for Miami Metrozoo. Today it is one of the largest membership organizations in South Florida, with approximately 60,000 members. Its activities and programs include fundraising, marketing, volunteer services, educational programs, special events and member programming. Its mission is to encourage an appreciation for the world’s wildlife and to help conserve it for future generations.  For more information, please visit or call (305) 255-5551.


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