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Rosemary McManis, who was a child when she first came to Denver Zoo in the 1950s with her family, is a Wildlife Heritage Society and Zoo Pride member. She is a longtime Park Hill resident and credits her parents for teaching her and her brother to love and respect animals.
Right from the start, Rosemary was mesmerized with everything at Denver Zoo, especially Cookie the iconic elephant. Her love of animals has kept her coming back to the zoo throughout the years.
She appreciates the care the animals receive and the zoo’s conservation efforts, both across the globe and close to home. Rosemary has included a gift in her will “in order to enable generations of people to view these majestic animals in person whereas they might not be able to otherwise see them in their lifetime.”
Katie and Martin Oberlander are both passionate about the Zoo’s conservation and education outreach programs and commitment to building enhanced exhibits for animals.
Martin grew up visiting the Zoo as a boy with his mom and brothers. He continued to come to the Zoo as an adult, enjoying the Zoo after work to “decompress” and be around nature and animals. He brought Katie on several dates to Denver Zoo and now they come often with their two kids.
When completing their wills and beneficiary designations for their IRA and life insurance, it was Martin’s idea to name Denver Zoo as a 1/3 beneficiary of his life insurance policy. Katie quickly stole his “great idea” and named the Zoo as a 1/3 beneficiary of her life insurance policy. While they both wish they could give more now, they love the idea that they will leave a significant gift to help the animals and educational programs.
Felicia Diamond and Gene Bloom
Growing up in Park Hill, Denver Zoo was very important in the lives of Felicia Diamond and Gene Bloom. They spent their summers at the zoo and are amazed at how much the zoo has grown and developed since their childhood. What hasn’t changed is the important role Denver Zoo plays in their lives.
Felicia has always been passionate about animals. Perhaps initially she was more passionate than Gene, but her passion is contagious and now Gene is just as hooked. Seeing some magnificent animals during a trip to Africa (including their favorite, elephants) Felicia and Gene realized the need for animal conservation and the impact zoos have on conservation. They believe Denver Zoo is more than a great place to come and see animals; Denver Zoo provides a way to save and protect those animals for future generations.
Animal conservation is the number one reason Felicia and Gene choose to include Denver Zoo in their estate plans. (They also enjoy the annual appreciation dinner and special zoo tours!)
Betsy Schutte reluctantly accepted her daughter’s invitation to visit Denver Zoo with her and her two grandchildren shortly after moving to Denver. After that visit, she just loved the Zoo. Betsy enjoyed that first visit so much, especially seeing all the Zoo volunteers in their green vests grinning (and thinking, they can’t really be having that much fun), she decided to check out becoming a volunteer. That was 11 years ago, and she’s still coming back.
As a Zoo docent, Betsy leads many school group tours and can’t believe how many kids have never been to Denver Zoo or had a chance to see any of these amazing animals up close. Just as impressive is the incredible care the animals at the Zoo receive. She decided to do even more by including the Zoo in her will.
“Leaving a future legacy gift for the Zoo in my will was great,” Betsy says, “but I also wanted to make a gift that impacted the animals today.” When she heard about an option where she could make a gift to the Zoo and in turn receive income for life, she was sold. Betsy says of her charitable gift annuity: “It was very easy to set up, and I like the income I receive back from my gift.”
Hannah Yaritz is passionate about Denver Zoo’s mission and believes that the Zoo “talks the talk and walks the walk, and truly cares about the animals in their care as well as animal conservation efforts around the world.” She went on to say that Denver Zoo is a good neighbor and partner in the community.
As a former Denver Zoo employee, Hannah has firsthand awareness of the Zoo’s incredible work and efforts to secure a better world for animals. This gift though her retirement plan allows her to stay connected and give back to Denver Zoo.
“I wasn’t able to make a large gift now,” Hannah says, “but naming the Zoo as a beneficiary of my retirement plan allows me to make a bigger and more lasting impact in the future to an organization I care about.”
Along with her dog, Blanca, and cat, Rio, Hannah’s favorite animal is the snow leopard. She also enjoys hiking and the outdoors, including an upcoming camping trip to Leadville.
Holly and Gary Gibson
Holly Gibson fell in love with animals and Denver Zoo when she participated in a Zoo explorer scout program in high school.
“It was a very hands-on experience; I got to touch and learn about a variety of animals and have had an appreciation of Denver Zoo ever since,” says Holly. Her husband, Gary’s interest in the Zoo stems from Holly’s passion and he is now awed by the animals every bit as much as Holly.
When the Gibsons sold their business they were looking into different options to invest their money. Since Holly had already named Denver Zoo in her estate plan, she decided to give some of that money to the Zoo now through a gift vehicle that would provide her income in return. Gary liked Holly’s idea and decided to create his own charitable gift annuity. They enjoy the benefits of giving a gift to the Zoo today and receiving annuity payments for life.
The Gibsons appreciate that because of Denver Zoo, over two million people a year have the opportunity to see animals they might not otherwise get to see. They also value the Zoo’s conservation efforts locally and abroad. Holly and Gary are passionate about travel and they are inspired to visit the animals they see at the Zoo in their native habitats (like their recent trip to Svalbard in the Arctic to see polar bears).
Marty and Jeanne McCune
Marty and Jeanne McCune were dedicated zoo volunteers for over 25 years. They share similar passions – teaching (middle school teachers for 30 years) and animals – both of which served them well in their role at the Zoo. Marty’s interest in volunteering began after meeting an enthusiastic volunteer at a teacher workshop he took at the Zoo. Once Marty started spending so much of his time at the Zoo, Jeanne figured the only way she could see her husband was to become a volunteer as well!
The commitment and passion of the animal care staff as well as the Zoo’s conservation projects around the world are what impress the McCune’s the most about Denver Zoo. And of course, they love the animals. Gorillas and orangutans are Marty’s favorites, and Jeanne loves all types of birds.
The McCune’s choose to give to Denver Zoo through their IRA because they thought it was a good way to support the Zoo, save on taxes, and give back to the community. They wanted to be a part of, as Jeanne says, “the Zoo’s commitment to make the world a better place”.