The Garden City Telegram
9/23/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Cat home

Enthusiastic support fuels good project at local zoo.

Sunday marked another important milestone at Garden City's Lee Richardson Zoo.

The local attraction celebrated the grand opening of Cat Canyon, an impressive new setting for zoo cats.

Three jaguars, three bobcats and a new mountain lion now are at home in the more natural and roomier habitat. Featuring a viewing building and windows for each species of cat, the new environment also promises to improve the experience for zoo visitors and allow the zoo to add more cats.

When it comes to the zoo, the city of Garden City wisely invests in efforts to keep the facility running and in top shape. Still, many special projects, like the $1 million Cat Canyon exhibit, never would come about if not for numerous fundraisers and generous donations from local folks who understand the importance of maintaining an outstanding zoo.

While the zoo receives significant financial support from the city and Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo efforts, those funds never are unlimited.

So, zoo supporters put new strategies to work in the pursuit of Cat Canyon. Along with traditional fundraising, FOLRZ also embraced a variety of innovative ideas, such as online contests and theatrical productions that allowed many people to contribute in some way.

"This shows what happens when a community comes together and focuses on one project. It not only benefits the zoo, but it benefits the whole community," then-Garden City Mayor David Crase said during the groundbreaking ceremony for the exhibit a year ago.

And on Sunday, the opening ceremony for Cat Canyon did indeed deliver proof of how public improvements can materialize even in the midst of tight governmental budgets, thanks to generous supporters willing to invest in their community's future.

Moving forward, the next big venture will be a new primate exhibit. Fundraising already is under way for another project sure to make the zoo even better.

As supporters tackle the latest endeavor, they can look to Cat Canyon as a sterling reminder of just how much can be accomplished when local residents get behind a project that promises to pay dividends for years to come.