Inside look: Como Zoo water garden lily pads

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5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is teaming up with Como Zoo to ensure the wildlife is well cared for and families can continue to create memories for years to come.

The annual Como Zoo Sponsor an Animal Campaign runs through April 25, and people can help preserve both animals and plants. Donating helps keep Como Park Zoo and Conservatory free for everyone.

KSTP reporter Brandi Powell gave 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at what goes into one of visitors’ favorite parts of the zoo: The lily pads in the iconic water gardens.

Victoria housewright, senior horticulturist a the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory within the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, said, "This is really exciting, it doesn’t look like a lot right now, but these are actually babies, which is so cute."

It’s big growth, all stemming from a small seed.

Housewright said in Minnesota, the water lilies grow to about 4 feet.

"That’s huge … In the wild, these leaves can get up to eight feet. The record is 11 feet wide. These are huge water lilies. We actually call them water platters because, I mean, you can literally float stuff on them," Housewright said.

The lilypads need some very specific conditions to grow. They thrive inside the tropical greenhouse before they’re brought outside for families to see.

Housewright said, "Nature is wild. I mean, the more you learn about it, the more excited you are, and really, I think it does feel really good and healthy for people to be out amongst plants and nature and feel connected."

You can donate to the Animal and Plant Sponsorship Program by clicking here.

All gifts will be matched up to $10,000 thanks to an anonymous donor.