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keeper with chicken

Carolyn (left) models a volunteer-made mask during a training session with Jemima the chicken.

Although the Zoo has been temporarily closed for more than a month, our volunteers continue to contribute their time and talent from their homes. April 19–25 is National Volunteer Week, so we thought it was the perfect time to say “thank you” to our volunteers while highlighting the great work that they selflessly provide us.

When all essential staff began wearing masks in early April, volunteers Barbara Desrosiers, Dawn Smith, Karen Foust, Linda Chadwick, Linda Owiesny and Patty Schmitt put their sewing skills to work, skillfully crafting facial coverings with materials they purchased themselves as a donation to the Zoo.

Elastic, which is used to secure the mask behind the ears, is in short supply these days, but these clever crafters have circumvented this problem by using shoelaces that can be tied behind the head for a snug fit.

Putting in between 12 to 40 hours a week each, these superstars have made over 250 (and counting!) double-layered cotton masks for our staff in plenty of fun patterns, themes and colors (including animal print, of course).

The masks are dropped off at the Zoo, then sorted and distributed to employees working onsite, who are instructed to disinfect their masks between uses. Thanks to the volunteers’ dedication and generosity, we will soon have all the masks we need!

Last year, our volunteers contributed nearly 100,000 hours of their time, serving in roles as varied as sea turtle rehabilitators, docents, oyster gardeners and landscapers. We miss them all terribly, and we cannot wait to see them again when the Zoo reopens!

This is a challenging time for our Zoo. As a not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funds, we rely on earned income from admissions and memberships—and we stand to lose one third of our annual income while we are temporarily closed. That’s why now, more than ever, your support is critical. You can help make an impact by purchasing or renewing a membership, donating to our fundcreating a Facebook fundraiser for the Zoo or simply spreading the word.