Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Vote Early and Often for Potter Park Zoo

I don’t normally do this.

I don’t normally use “What’s the Diehl?” to solicit donations from my readers for anyone but myself. I’m making an exception for two reasons: 1) Y’all haven’t exactly broken your index fingers clicking on the “donate” button for the blog, and 2) Potter Park Zoo, the nonprofit charity that I’m plugging in this post, needs your help.

The zoo – the oldest public zoo in the State of Michigan – was just chosen to participate in a “Big Bang-quet Community Charity Challenge.” What this means is that the zoo is one of 20 charities in the area selected to compete via online “votes,” or $5 donations, during the contest period of February 1 through March 15. At the end of the competition, the top three organizations – those that bring in the most donations – earn special credits toward the cost of events at Michigan State University’s fancy University Club banquet facility.

A “reveal” reception is scheduled for Tuesday, March 19 at the University Club; votes/donations will be accepted there via ballot box contributions as well, and the winners will be announced at the end of the evening.

Now I know not everyone likes zoos or supports putting wild animals on display. I struggled with this question too since I wouldn't want my movements restricted if I were an animal of the four-legged, tailed variety. But none of the animals at Potter Park is neglected, none of the facilities are run-down or inadequate, the health care provided to the animals is top-notch, and I can attest to the positive reactions people of all ages have to their encounters at this particular zoo.

My kids participated in Potter Park’s award-winning “BIG Zoo Lesson,” where they spent a week at the zoo with their classmates gaining knowledge about and respect for specific animals, and they loved the experience. I can’t count the number of times I've strolled through the zoo with family and friends in rain and shine. (I’ll never forget the day years ago when my daughter Amelia and I watched, mesmerized, as an expectant camel gave birth to the newest member of Potter Park’s menagerie.)

Potter Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which means it meets rigorous standards for animal care and safety. (Don’t confuse the AZA with the Florida-based Zoological Association of America, which supports the private ownership of exotic pets and the commercialization of wildlife. The ZAA has much lower standards for accreditation than the AZA.) This is no roadside tourist attraction.

I know some “What’s the Diehl?” readers are asking themselves, “I’m in Sydney or London or Ottawa or Los Angeles or Portland or Madison or Detroit or Escanaba. Why should I care about an animal park in Lansing?” Does the Save the Children office in Guatemala only receive support from Guatemalans? Did contributions for MSNBC’s recent “Buy a Desk for a Student in Malawi” campaign come only from Malawians? Do patrons of New York’s Museum of Modern Art live only on West 53rd Street? Of course not. People support causes and efforts that are important to them regardless of dots on a map.

I know there’s no shortage of deserving charities, disaster relief agencies and dedicated bloggers that would love your help. Personally I’ve always liked the idea of supporting the vulnerable – those who for whatever reason can’t help themselves, like homeless and mentally ill folks, children, seniors and animals. I hope you’ll consider clicking here between now and March 15 and voting as many times as you can for Potter Park Zoo – and getting your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to do the same.

On behalf of Potter Park’s Amur Tigers, Bali Mynah Birds, Tamarin Monkeys, Penguins, Bongos, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros and other animals representing over 150 different species, I thank you.

This contest is conducted by the University Club of MSU and sponsored by the MSU Federal Credit Union and the Capital Region Community Foundation. In the interest of full disclosure, the Potter Park Zoological Society is a client of Singh & Diehl LLC.