Ever wonder how far a quarter can go?

If you used a quarter to buy food for the fish and ducks in the ponds at Lee Richardson Zoo, your quarter could be at work in various locations around the world, including Belize protecting jaguars; Africa training dogs to protect elephants, rhinos and other animals; or at work locally supporting butterflies and other pollinators. When you combine your one quarter with many others, your quarter can go a very long way.

Lee Richardson Zoo works to conserve wildlife locally and globally through inspiring appreciation for our natural world through educational programs, engaging encounters and through our participation in programs such as Species Survival Plans that involve the various species housed at the zoo. We also participate in programs that protect animals in the wild through our conservation fund. That fund consists of monies given through the duck and fish food machines at the ponds and also through a portion of the fee for birthday party packages booked at the zoo, as well as the fee for distance learning programs offered by the Education Division staff. If you fed the giraffes or rhinos during a zoo encounter, some of those funds went to conservation projects along with supporting the operations at the zoo.

Conservation is a four-syllable word that means “a careful preservation and protection of something; especially planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction or neglect,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It also breaks it down into two simpler definitions: “the protection of animals, plants and natural resources”; and “the careful use of natural resources (such as trees, oil, etc.) to prevent them from being lost or wasted.” Conservation is a big part of why Lee Richardson Zoo exists.

The zoo was founded by a local chapter of the Izaak Walton League in 1927. The Izaak Walton League is a national conservation organization dedicated to preserving America’s natural resources. Over 91 years, Lee Richardson Zoo’s style may have changed some, but our mission is still the same. Lee Richardson Zoo participates in conservation efforts in many different ways. Black rhinos are a critically endangered species. Before the two who reside at the zoo were introduced to each other, their horns were squared off. Animal Care staff worked with the rhinos to be permitted to manicure their horns so any horn-to-other-rhino contact would be less damaging. The pieces of rhino horn that were removed were sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help train dogs to detect smuggled rhino parts.

The maintenance team at Lee Richardson Zoo works diligently on the Butterfly Garden to provide not only a pleasant place for zoo guests but also an environment that supports butterflies and other pollinators. Pollinators play an important role in agriculture, spark the imagination of those around them and act as indicator species for the quality of our ecosystem. While they’ve been around all your life, their numbers are declining, and they need our help. This is something we can do right here in Garden City to benefit our local wildlife and environment.

Lee Richardson Zoo works every day to make a local and global impact through conservation efforts, and we couldn’t do it without your support.


Kristi Newland is the executive director of Lee Richardson Zoo.