I recently had the honor of receiving the Key4Women Community Impact Award from Key4Women, a Key Bank-sponsored organization that helps women succeed in business.
Of course I was thrilled to get the award, but the best part is, Key4Women offered to make a generous donation to a cause of my choice!
Normally this would be a tough decision. I’m a huge supporter of many causes, most of them animal-related – plus it’s my job to raise money and support for the many missions of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.
But in this case, it was easy – I chose the zoo’s Amur Leopard Woodland project!
Friends of the Zoo conceived this project when the zoo joined the Species Survival Plan for Amur leopards last year. Amur leopards are not only magnificently beautiful, they are the world’s most endangered big cats, with only 84 remaining in the wild. The SSP recommended pairing two young leopards, Tria from the Greenville (SC) Zoo and Rafferty from the San Diego Zoo, in hopes they would have cubs.
We welcomed the pair and our keepers worked to gradually introduce them – with great success! The couple accepted each other and on June 19, Tria gave birth to twin cubs, Milo and Mina. If you have not yet seen these adorable babies, you really should visit us soon.
The Friends was already raising funds to create a new home for Tria and Rafferty, and the new additions make this goal even more pressing. It will take about $400,000 to transform our former lion exhibit into a new habitat tailored for Amur leopards, including lots of vertical space, trees and climbing structures to accommodate their climbing prowess.
The sooner we can do this, the better – and there’s a fun way you can help! You can participate in the Syracuse Zoo Family Fun Run, a kid- and stroller-friendly 2.5K (1.5 mile) walk/run through part of Burnet Park and the zoo’s Wildlife Trail on Saturday, September 28. It ends with a party in the zoo courtyard, fun giveaways, free zoo admission and more. And yes, we hope to make it an annual fundraiser.
Of course when my staff asked what our first fun run should benefit, you know what I said! Our 2019 run is the Run for the Cats, and all proceeds will go to the Amur Leopard Woodland project. You can find more information on the fun run and sign up at http://www.syracusezooevents.org/family-fun-run/ .
Meanwhile, if you can’t make the walk/run but want to donate to this project, please visit http://www.syracusezooevents.org/amur-leopard-campaign/ or call us at (315) 435-8511 x8526.
Janet Agostini President + CEO Friends of the Zoo