26 • The Louisville Zoo Trunkline • Spring 2016 SUPPORT YOUR ZOO! Raising Awareness... and Support Donor Spotlight: Jessica Thompson The Louisville Zoo is proud to be the “State Zoo of Kentucky” and is grateful to the thousands of families, individuals, companies and foundations that choose to make a gift in support of our mission to “better the bond between people and our planet.” Below, Zoo member, donor, advocate and volunteer Jessica Thompson shares more about her experiences at the Louisville Zoo, why the Zoo is important to her, and why others should consider making a gift to support the Annual Fund, Zoofari or other special projects at the Zoo. Why did you choose to support the Zoo? I try to mentor people in the same way I’ve been mentored and encourage others to be communityminded. Friends of the Zoo board members donate their talent to produce two huge fundraising events, Zoofari! and Brew at the Zoo each year. I was convinced enough that if I could be part of raising money for the Zoo and join in the event planning (which I enjoy) it would be a nice way to get involved without feeling overwhelmed, to see what I could do and meet new friends. What was your first experience like at the Louisville Zoo? Amazing. I grew up with a huge love for animals. My husband Mac and I have two dogs, both rescues, both special needs. The Zoo was happy to address my concerns by introducing me to staff members and keepers who were excited to demonstrate some of their daily animal enrichment activities and roles they play in keeping their animals safe and healthy. Their dedication to the care of these animals is simply incredible. They are the rock stars of the Zoo. Jessica Thompson and California sea lion, Kahula What do you like best about the Zoo? It’s a learning experience. I learn something different every time I visit. Is there one happy Zoo moment that sticks out most in your mind? The celebration event of Operation Snowflake (the rescue operation to bring the abandoned polar bear cub from Alaska to Louisville). Seeing Qannik’s safe homecoming to Glacier Run was emotionally overwhelming for me. Qannik brought so many people together. The event gained national attention from scientists, representatives from other Zoos and the UPS logistics team — even the pilot that brought her here to Louisville was at the event. Qannik’s arrival in Louisville was an honor and a testament to the innovative new Glacier Run exhibit. It gave me a sense of pride. This is why we do what we do. Describe your experience as a donor. How do you know (or feel) your gift is making a difference? I’ve always felt a strong appreciation and connection to the Zoo through my work here. I am encouraged to visit often and to see my gift in action by observing School at the Zoo, behind the scenes tours with my family, conversations with staff, special events and receptions, and other unique interactions with the animals. I’ve shared these experiences with other people. I get to see kids light up and hear the thanks from their parents. You see people posting about their experience on Facebook and you think, “YES! They’re having a great time at the Zoo!” Why would you encourage other people to support the Zoo? You learn so much! Supporting the Zoo has taught me new skills I can apply elsewhere — things I can’t learn sitting behind my desk at work. I love the animals and knowing we have given them a nice comfortable home where they are safe and healthy. I love seeing their characters grow and witnessing how well-adjusted they are here. Seeing these things, you know you must be doing something right! It’s incredibly satisfying to feel part of the Zoo family. Every gift made — time, talent or treasure — makes a difference in helping fulfill the mission of the Louisville Zoo. Everyone has a Zoo story. We’re incredibly thankful to Jessica for taking time to share hers with us. If you would like to learn more about making a gift in support of your Zoo or would like to share your Zoo story, please contact Kelly Grether, Director of Development, at email@example.com or by calling 502-238-5615. You can also visit Louisvillezoo.org/support to make a gift today.