But despite all my memories tucked away on Noble Avenue, I had no idea our ticket money benefited conservation efforts or that the zoo doesn't get federal and state support regularly. That became clear once I became a news reporter and I learned more behind the scenes details. Basically, without those ticket sales, park purchases or donations, the zoo will struggle, and those animal populations worldwide are at risk. Places like the Beardsley Zoo are a godsend for animals hoping to hold onto existence across our globe. There have been countless success stories of creatures going from practically extinct numbers to thriving again. And a lot of that is credit to places like Connecticut's only zoo.
My husband and I learned during our college dating years that we both shared a massive passion for animals, conservation efforts and environmental protection. Any vacation we’ve gone on and any in our future plans involve zoos, aquariums, animal sanctuaries, audobons and/or landscapes where we can immerse ourselves with nature and animals. It was almost expected that once we became parents, we instilled that in our son, Chase. And we did.
Our toddler loves being outside! If he could live on the pile of rocks in our garden behind our home, he would. If he could spend every afternoon on his tire swing, running through high grass, looking at the river in our backyard flow or point our frogs and insects under the slide, he would. So, it's no surprise that his eyes grow wide the second he walks into the Beardsley Zoo. He loses all concept of his surroundings becoming fixated on wolves lurking, spider monkeys swinging, the long tongues of an anteater and the scurrying nature of red pandas.
Last year before I went back to work full time, I went to weekly meetings at my church for mom's. It was an opportunity to build our faith and learn to build good values in our children. One of the biggest lessons I took away was splitting allowances. As a child, I relied on my allowance because it was the only way I was getting that new stuffed animal at The Disney Store or getting a full bag of candy instead of just a snickers bar. But I realized how silly those things are in the grand scheme of things.
As we get older, do you find things get cloudy...and sometimes the things we "need" are actually just "wants."
I wish I had known my money could have made a difference. I wish I knew my money could have meant another day of helping an animal population struggling or making another child gleam from a day at the zoo. Because looking back, where are those stuffed animals now?
We're teaching our son that it's important to give back. It's not enough to just enjoy life and move on without thought. It's important to think about others and look out for the places taking care of others already. That's why my son's piggy bank is split in half. He can pocket half of his allowance because he worked hard for it and should be able to reward himself. But the other half goes back to someone or something else in need. The zoo is a place of comfort, fulfillment and happiness for my son. Find what makes your child happy and teach them to care for it. Memories are a wonderful thing to keep in your heart and mind. But donations are a life changing thing to keep memories going for years to come.