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$1 million check for the Oakland Zoo from an anonymous donor

The Oakland Zoo may have failed to convince voters to pass a parcel task for its support, but last week, an anonymous donor sent a $1 million check by mail! says:

“It wasn’t just a letter saying we’re going to get a million dollars, it was a letter and a check for a million dollars,” said Emma Lee Twitchell, the zoo’s director of development.

The check arrived Monday from the San Francisco Foundation‘s Serendipity Fund. The donor wished to remain out of the spotlight, only indicating the funds should be used for general purposes at the zoo.

Zoo officials don’t have any good guesses about who the donor might be, Twitchell said. “Someone has reason to believe we’re doing a good job and we appreciate the vote of confidence,” she said.

In November, Alameda County voters failed to approve a $12-per-parcel tax, Measure A1, to raise $137 million over 25 years for animal care, field trips for children, facility upgrades and other projects. Some environmental groups opposed the proposed tax, fearing that the additional funds could be used for expansion into environmentally sensitive areas of Knowland Park. Although the measure had a popular majority, it failed the 2/3 majority needed to pass.

Although the anonymous donation is a big help, many needs of the zoo will have to be postponed as the result of the failure of the tax measure at the polls. However, Joel Parrott, zoo president, was very grateful for the largest, unsolicited donation that the zoo has ever seen!

“Every now and then, something truly extraordinary occurs at the Oakland Zoo that causes me to just shake my head in disbelief, and be thankful,” Parrott said in a statement.

Serendipity is one of the things in which I believe….

-Bill at

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