Recently, the Binder Park Zoo community said goodbye to the last remaining Mexican gray wolf, Phoenix. Phoenix was part of a litter of eight wolf pups born at the Zoo in 2002. “Our staff has received hundreds of comments from guests sharing their stories about seeing the wolves here at the Zoo. They expressed their love for the wolves and their hopes that we’ll have them again in the future,” states Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo President and CEO. Following the loss ofPhoenix, Brett Linsley, Manager of Wildlife, Conservation, and Education began reaching out to other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facilities that participate in the Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan to learn about the possibility of acquiring new animals.
About the same time, Mackenzie, a 12 year old, aspiring zoologist with a keen interest in wolves, had an idea to “pay it forward”. Instead of asking for Christmas gifts this season she wanted to launch a fundraising campaign to help bring wolves back to the Zoo. With a great passion for these magnificent animals and the support of her family and friends, she set a goal to raise $10,000 and hopes to inspire others to take a stand for wildlife, too. Mackenzie calls her project “Call of the Wild” and knows that this conservation effort may, one day soon, help a healthy and viable population of wolves return to their native lands in the Southwest United States and Northern Mexico.
Linsley was recently notified that two young Mexican gray wolf brothers had been identified and approved to relocate to what will be their new home at Binder Park Zoo. They are slated to arrive later this month. When Mackenzie heard this news she sprang into action with her plan. Leslie Walsh, Marketing and Development Manager at the Zoo, worked with Mackenzie to set up a GoFundMe account and stated, “We are excited to help boost Mackenzie’s campaign and share how important the work to save this endangered species is. The cost to transport the wolves and modifications to their exhibit will cost close to $10,000, and we hope that the regional community will help support Mackenzie’s generous and selfless efforts.”
Mexican gray wolves are one of the rarest animals with approximately 350 left in the world and only 50 living in the wild. Binder ParkZoo has participated in the Mexican Gray Wolf Species Survival Plan for over 20 years and was part of a significant conservation accomplishment in 1998 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released into the wild a female wolf born here at Binder Park Zoo. This was the first Mexican wolf to give birth to pups in the wild in over 50 years!
Donations will help fund the travel expenses, special equipment, and necessary upgrades to the existing exhibit and can be made at gofundme.com/mackenzieswolves
Mackenzie, her family and Binder Park Zoo all thank the community for their generous support to bring Mexican Gray Wolves back to the Zoo!
About Binder Park Zoo
Over 8,000,000 people have visited Binder Park Zoo and an additional 500,000 have been served through outreach programs since the Zoo was established in 1975. It is located outside of Battle Creek, Michigan, on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. In the past 41 years, the Zoo has grown to be one of the leading cultural attractions in the region. It was created on the model of an entrepreneurial self-supporting nonprofit organization, and is managed by a zoological society board of directors to Connect. Inspire. Conserve. Connect people with nature. Inspire them to conserve. In the last twenty years a conservation education center, a 40-acre natural wetlands exhibit, the 50-acre Wild Africa exhibit, and Conservation Carousel have been added to the original 80-acre zoo. Binder Park Zoo is heavily involved in conservation of wildlife and natural habitats on five continents. In cooperation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and others, Binder Park Zoo is actively working to conserve a wide array of endangered species both at the Zoo and worldwide.