‘Just Zoo It!’ reports another successful campaign

Judy Esham of Avery Hall and volunteer Jan Pilard fill bags of money from “Just Zoo It!” cans at the Lower Shore Enterprises warehouse.

In a photo on Facebook, a cardboard likeness of Agnes, the bison at the Salisbury Zoo, is happily looking over hundreds of plastic bags of coins, collected by local school children to benefit the bison exhibit.

The photo is on the zoo’s Facebook page with the message, “Agnes is so thankful for all the coins raised by the students of Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties. Let the counting begin.”

Again this year, about 12,000 cans, donated by Pepsi Bottling Ventures, were filled with coins collected by local students as part of the annual Just Zoo It! campaign, to raise money for the zoo.

The amount collected won’t be known for a month or so, until all coins are tallied, and totals verified, but most years, $25,000 to $30,000 is raised, said Cheryl Young, of the Delmarva Zoological Society, the organization formed to raise proceeds for capital improvement projects.

During the past eight years, %210,000 has been donated.

Participating in this year’s eighth annual fund drive were 752 classrooms in the lower four counties.

Once handed in, cans were opened by volunteers from First Shore Federal, Avery Hall and Lower Shore Enterprises.

“We keep them all separated based on the class. How much each class raised has to be figured out so we can name the winner,” Young said.

The winning public school class, private school class and random class will each go on a field trip to the zoo where zookeepers will how them animals and they will have a pizza party with cupcakes. Each child will take home a zoo T-shirt and stuffed animal.

Several weeks ago, the only male bison, Bubba, died at the zoo. Only Agnes remains, so Zoo Director Ralph Piland is interested in buying two female calves, Young said.

The exhibit needs upgrades, the addition of a separate area for the calves and repairs around the shelter.

Young didn’t have a cost estimate but said Piland has been talking with the owner of Delmarva Veteran Builders about the project, as well as the owl exhibit that was destroyed last year.

Because the owls are from South America, there are plans to move it to the tropics area, Young said.

“Seeing how much students all over the Delmarva Peninsula love the zoo helps motivate us to work even harder to make sure we have an outstanding zoo in our community,” Ashley Bosche, chairwoman of the Delmarva Zoological Society stated in a news release.

“We know how special the zoo is and it’s gratifying to see it reflected in the excitement every year of these students who want to do something to give back.”

The Delmarva Zoological Society was established in 2009.

Members adopted the slogan Renew the Zoo and set the goal of promoting, raising funds for, publicizing and supporting exhibits, education and projects.


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