Zoo's red wolf exhibit gets a lift from Puyallup Tribe of Indians
By Robin Buda -- Today staff
CANASTOTA, N.Y. - Red wolves are one step closer to getting a new home at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, Wash., thanks to a sizable donation from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The tribe contributed $685,000 over the next five years to sponsor both the Red Wolf Woods exhibit and Zoobilee, The Zoo Society's premier fundraising event.
''The Puyallup Tribe of Indians has demonstrated a great commitment not just to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, but to the entire region, through this generous gift. Each year, more than half a million people will have the opportunity to learn about this majestic animal thanks to their generosity,'' said Caryl Zenker, executive director of The Zoo Society, in a release. ''We are so pleased for their commitment to protection of wildlife and endangered species and eager to provide this exciting new exhibit to the public.''
''The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is currently in high gear for their capital campaign. ... The Puyallup Tribe chose to make a donation to this campaign based on the importance of conservation, education and historical involvement. The tribe has been a longtime supporter of the zoo, and values the integrity of their mission with the community,'' said Hollie Bostrom, community relations manager for the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casinos, owned by the Puyallup Tribe. Bostrom also assists the tribe's Charity Fund as an adviser on a promotional and marketing level and conducts research on the groups before some of the requests are submitted.
While this is the first contribution of this size from the tribe, this isn't the first donation the tribe has made.
''The Zoo Society began approaching the tribe back in 2003 to be a Zoobilee sponsor. Zoobilee is our annual black-tie fundraiser,'' said Brent Mason, corporate relations manager for The Zoo Society.
''A couple of years ago, we also approached them about funding some educational programs, which they did, in addition to the event sponsorship. When Hollie came onto the scene, we took their event sponsorship to the presenting level and tacked on an additional event sponsorship. ... Somewhere in there, Hollie and I had a discussion about soliciting them for support of the campaign.''
There were four separate components to the campaign: Red Wolf Woods, Cats of the Canopy, Animal Avenue and an endowment. Bostrom explained why the tribe chose to donate for the red wolf exhibit.
''The red wolf has a touching, exciting, hopeful story behind them that seemed to reach out to the Puyallup Tribe. The red wolf is one of the most endangered animals in the world. It is a shy species that once roamed throughout the Southeast as a top predator.
''Aggressive predator control programs and clearing of forested habitat combined to cause impacts that brought the red wolf to the brink of extinction. By 1970, the entire population of red wolves was believed to be fewer than 100 animals confined to a small area of coastal Texas and Louisiana. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium led the collaborative team of Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan members to bring the total red wolf population from 14 individuals in the 1970s to the current population of approximately 250 red wolves.
''PDZA continues its commitment to the conservation of this critically endangered species by managing a large captive breeding population and utilizing scientific techniques, such as fecal hormone analysis and artificial insemination, to help prevent the extinction of the red wolf. Built in the 1970s, the current on-site red wolf exhibit is seriously outdated and in desperate need of replacement. The current facility does not do justice to our community's international leadership in helping save the species.''
The tribe saw this as not only a way to help the zoo and the red wolves, but also a way to show dedication to the community.
''This is just part of our commitment to giving back to the community,'' said Herman Dillon Sr., Puyallup tribal chairman, in a release. ''We are pleased to not only help the zoo, but to take part in restoration of the red wolf population.''
''With the donation from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the red wolf exhibit at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now has a second chance to howl in all its glory,'' Bostrom added.
Even though the donation is a step in the right direction, the zoo still has a long way to go to raise the funds for all four components of the campaign.
''Their [Puyallup Tribe] funding is helping pay for roughly 51 percent of this specific exhibit,'' Mason said. ''Overall, we have raised $3.7 million of a needed $7.1 million for all four projects.''
For more information about Red Wolf Woods, the capital campaign or to make a donation, contact Brent Mason at (253) 404-3652 or email@example.com.