Dear Zoo Friends,
When people find out that I am a zoo director, their first reaction is, “That is so cool! I bet you get to play with the animals all the time.” I then explain how zoo staff never share the same physical space with most animals such as great apes and big cats and then further elaborate that there is no shortage of smart and passionate people who take care of the animals, the horticulture and grounds. My primary job as zoo director is to find the resources for our employees to do their jobs.
Still, being a zoo director has its advantages. For the past eight years I have been a zoo director. First at Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Arizona and, since January 2018, at the Sacramento Zoo. I am proud of what Sac Zoo staff has accomplished within the past two-and-a-half years. They tore down dilapidated cages for birds and transformed that area into our beautiful okapi habitat. We are now the only zoo in Northern California to care for this amazing species and we have taken a leadership role in their conservation in their native range within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our staff also made the tough decision to send our last tiger to the San Francisco Zoo so we could double the living space for our lions and add incredible glass viewing panels that were generously donated by our friends at River City Glass. As the zoo’s director, my greatest joy is seeing the reaction of our guests as they experience and learn about these new animals and habitats. I love to see our playground full of happy children or a crowd stationed around the meerkats watching the small carnivores actively exploring their habitat or standing alertly on sentry points throughout the habitat.
Another joy that my position provides is the quiet moments wandering around the zoo when we are closed. During our recent closure, I tend to walk the zoo grounds around 4:30-5:00 PM. I check in with security and let them know I am on grounds and I make my rounds to check on projects and the animals. It was during these walks that I came to the realization that I’m the luckiest man in Sacramento. I’m fortunate that my office is a secret garden filled with amazing animals. I’ve watched new species such as our ostrich, alligators and our new female giraffe acclimate to and thrive at the zoo, and we are so looking forward to sharing these animals with you.
Thursday, May 7th is the region’s Big Day of Giving. This is traditionally one of our largest and most important days of fundraising with generous community help that provides critical support to the nonprofit Sacramento Zoo.
I know that many of you have already contributed during our time of need, but as a special incentive to participate in this event, anyone who makes a donation to the zoo on Big Day of Giving (or schedules a donation on the Big Day website prior to May 7) will be entered into a drawing for a special experience. The winner of the drawing, and their guest, will accompany me on one of my evening walks through the zoo (as soon as it is safe to do so). We will walk the grounds, and you will hear insights about operating the zoo and I’ll make sure there are some treats for us to eat and perhaps a few for the animals. Think of it as an opportunity to have your own private zoo for the evening with 500 animals and the zoo director. I look forward to this fun opportunity to share my special time at the zoo with one of our generous Big Day supporters.
Thank you for your continued generosity during these trying times.