BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo received donations from two schools this week: St. Augustine Academy in Bridgeport raised $500 for the new tiger habitat, and Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton raised $1150 for the Natt Family Red Panda Pavilion.
Fourth graders at St. Augustine Academy began a Project Based Learning Unit on Amur tiger cubs and Zoo animals when tiger cubs Reka and Zeya were born. According to their teachers, Debra Tarczali and Melissa Marini-Munley, their unit included watching Reka and Zeya on the Zoo webcam every day, researching Zoo history, and discussing the importance of zoos in protecting endangered species. They learned about the love and compassion animal care staff and docents have for animals, and the importance of animal welfare and safety. Finally, they raised $500 by organizing an orange and black dress down day where they raffled off a basket filled with Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo items and school supplies.
The academy has been making an annual field trip to the Zoo for years, so this year, they included a donation ceremony, awarding the check to Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. Afterward, Education Curator Jim Knox spoke to the children about the tigers and other endangered animals at the Zoo.
Dancho thanked the children for their donation and said, “Right now in the United States, there are only about 250 Amur tigers (in AZA-accredited zoos). Every baby we have is very precious. ” AZA-accredited zoos’ Species Survival Plan is a “lifeboat” for critically endangered tigers in the wild, where rapidly shrinking habitat and poaching has reduced the wild population to fewer than 500.
An hour later, kindergarteners arrived from Samuel Staples Elementary School in Easton with a check for $1,150, earmarked for the Zoo’s pair of Red Pandas, Rochan and Meri. Kindergarten teacher Sunny Paciello guided the children in fundraising after a visit to the school by Jim Knox and Justin Vaughan, from the Zoo’s Education Department. Maxwell Borofsky, a kindergarten student at the school, presented the check to Dancho. Maxwell is the grandson of the Bob Natt of Easton, who donated $150,000 to build the Natt Family Red Panda Pavilion, currently under construction at the Zoo.
Dancho showed the nearly-finished Natt Family Red Panda Pavilion to the kindergarten students and thanked the children on behalf of Rochan and Meri, who will benefit from habitat enrichment due to the children’s donation.
The Zoo is grateful to its many members, supporters, and corporate partners that help to educate, delight, and bring animal welfare and conservation to the state of Connecticut. Teaching children to respect and work to conserve wildlife is a key part of the Zoo’s mission.
About Connecticut’s Beardsley ZooSpend the day a world away at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo! Connecticut's only zoo is celebrating its 96thanniversary this year. The Zoo features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur (Siberian) tigers and tiger cubs, Maned wolf family, Amur leopards, sloths, red pandas, Brazilian ocelot, Mexican wolves, and Golden Lion tamarins. Other highlights include our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, the New England Farmyard with goats, pigs, sheep, and other barnyard critters, plus the hoofstock trail featuring bison, pronghorn, deer, and more. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful carousel. For more information, visit beardsleyzoo.org.