Zoo Update from GLAZA President Tom Jacobson – January 2023

A giant otter with its mouth open.
Giant otters live on riverbanks near slow-moving waters in South America. Photo by Jamie Pham

At the start of every new year, I like to take stock of what has been and what is coming. This year, taking this time is helping me appreciate the successes of 2022 and giving me renewed energy to jump into 2023 projects and priorities. First, the look back. The generosity of our members and donors in 2022 touched my heart; 12 new members planned to leave financial legacies through the Selig Legacy Society, and wonderful end-of-year contributions emerged, like $300,000 from the Angela Collier Foundation for new radiology equipment to help with our animals’ medical examinations. Talk about a gift from my wish list! Summer 2022 also saw our first in-person Beastly Ball since the pandemic, and it was deeply moving to me. Our donors contributed more than $1.4 million while honoring the memory of our beloved Betty White. Then in August we received confirmation of our very first allocation from the State of California, $2.21 million for four building projects that will add to the guest experience.

Now, the forecast. Construction of two of those capital projects, the new swan pond and Cape vulture habitats, is scheduled to begin in early 2023. I’m also particularly excited about another little project we have in the works: we’ll be opening a Pink’s Hot Dogs at the Zoo so all of us can enjoy the iconic dogs that Betty loved so much. Work continues in 2023 for the Vision Plan transformation of the entire Zoo, and we look forward to reporting progress throughout the year. We’ve also kicked off our fundraising for this year’s June 3 Beastly Ball, and I’m proud to report we’re already well ahead of where we were last year at this time.

That brings me to our next big fundraising initiative, and it’s something I need your help on. Walk for the Wild will take place at the end of February. We were so grateful to the many donors and Walkers who participated in the inaugural—and virtual—Walk for the Wild in 2021, and this year we’re especially excited to host the Walk on site at the Zoo for the very first time. I hope you’ll join me in making it a success by walking on February 25 and fundraising for GLAZA and the Zoo’s conservation program. We’ve already got some help from our generous sponsors, SKECHERS and California Credit Union, and some significant commitments from GLAZA trustees and other donors for challenge gifts to match the fundraising by individual Walkers. Now we turn to you: please sign up soon and start asking friends and family to support your efforts on behalf of animals and the Zoo. Better yet, form a whole team and make Walk for the Wild a fun family outing or workplace community-building activity. That’s what our Conservation Council of emerging leaders is doing; Walk for the Wild is their primary project this year. That’s what I’m doing, too, so join me. Open up your big hearts—and your wallets!—to help us save species from extinction. I look forward to seeing you at the Zoo on February 25!

GLAZA President Tom Jacobson feeding a giraffe.
Tom Jacobson, GLAZA President Photo by Jamie Pham

Author: Tom Jacobson