Looking around Mollie Alstott’s living room, it’s evident that she has traveled the world but her heart is definitely here with her family, friends, community and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Mollie, originally from Tremont, is a long-time resident of Old Brooklyn. She and her husband, Louie, a Navy pilot in World War II, lived in a total of eighteen different homes during his service. After retiring, they moved back to Old Brooklyn in 1966 and she and Louie traveled all over the world - Japan, the Panama Canal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan just to name a few. Mollie continued to travel after Louie passed away.
Wanting to become more active in supporting her community, she attended a meeting with Zoo volunteers as a guest - she was hooked. Growing up close to the Zoo, it was a familiar and a favorite place to visit. She loved the wide open green space filled with exotic animals and the swimming pool. In 1981, Mollie became a volunteer docent and a member of the Zoo Society.
“Becoming a docent was a wonderful experience. I appreciated working with so many talented and dedicated people, many of whom I now call my dear friends. There have been significant improvements and changes through the years. I’m grateful to the Zoo Society for their dedication in helping Cleveland Metroparks Zoo become one of the top zoos in the country.
The opening of The RainForest was a highlight for Mollie. “I watched the Zoo and Zoo Society work together to create a place that would transform the Zoo.” Guests were able to virtually travel to jungles of Brazil and Borneo without ever leaving Cleveland. “As I watched animal habitats disappearing in the wild, I saw the Zoo’s role becoming more about conservation, protecting and breeding of animals in danger of extinction and education.”
Mollie is proud of the accomplishments and contributions she and other volunteers have made over the years. She truly enjoyed the variety of assignments; working with the 6thgrade program in The RainForest, posting at different locations at the Zoo and participating in special events and tours. A favorite memory was when she went on safari in 1989 to Kenya with a group led by Don Kuenzer, a curator from Cleveland Metroparks Zoo at the time. “Seeing the animals in their natural habitat was awesome!”
Mollie wanted to leave a lasting legacy becoming a ZooFutures member. The annuity she gifted to the Zoo Society provides income for her now and will help ZooFutures fund conservation initiatives at the Zoo in years to come. The Zoo Society is grateful to the generosity of people, like Mollie, who want to ensure that zoos continue to evolve and teach future generations that preserving wildlife has to be a top priority. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has changed dramatically since Mollie started volunteering 33 years ago. Her passion for teaching and sharing her love of life and travel definitely play a part in what the Zoo is today and the impact it will have in the future.