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Steele and I have dedicated our personal and professional lives to “pay it forward,” to improve the quality of life in a variety of ways for our human and animal neighbors. We are fortunate to live in Cleveland with the renowned Metroparks, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Playhouse Square. As donors, we have witnessed how these important funds have preserved, protected and enriched all of us.
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s evolution from the 1950’s through today continues to amaze us. This evolution is a testament to the vision of the Zoo's Administrators, the support of the Cleveland Zoological Society, the expert care of the keepers, the creative program designs, and the generosity of the donors. The work of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is so critical to all of us, and extends around the world. We have a very important responsibility to our wildlife and the Zoo’s habitats such as Elephant Crossing, Rosebrough Tiger Passage, Asian Highlands and leading conservation efforts, to name a few, along with the variety of programs that serve to “spark” the interest and desire of people of all ages to become stewards of our planet’s animal kingdom.
The Cleveland Zoological Society's planned giving program ensures that our commitment to “pay it forward” continues beyond our lives. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s programs and exhibits have so enriched our lives and we feel strongly about giving back. Thank You!
Chris Jayjack & Steele Nowlin, members of the ZooFutures Heritage Society
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.
The Elusive Andean Bear
Read a first-person account of traveling to see this bear species in the wild.
Ask the Expert
Where do the animals go when work is being done in their habitat?
Food for thought
How does the Zoo get enough browse to feed these animals each and every day?