Renew Our Zoo
Hollywild Animal Park is at an important crossroads. This nearly 100 acre wildlife park, home to nearly 500 animals, is in danger.
As the new executive director of the Animal Park, I have spent the last seven months working to assess and face the stark reality of where the park stands while building a plan with our leadership team for the future. Our community has two choices. One fills my heart for this Upstate treasure with hope-filled joy, the other option, with great dread. Even more heart-wrenching is that the road we turn toward is not mine to choose. Yet I have made a personal and professional commitment to lead in whatever direction is chosen.
The fact is that without significant, widespread, and deep support, Hollywild cannot remain the asset it is and can be. We will have to face the option of closing. Our team has to believe that we have a community of supporters strong enough to make sure that option never has to become a reality.
We had a tragic 2015. We had a barn fire followed by attacks from animal rights groups. We had people calling every day last year wondering if we were even open after our tragedy. For everyone one call, we estimated that at least 20 didn't call. Our admissions, our primary funding source, was down by half. Could you manage on half your income for a full year? What would you have to postpone or simply do without, to survive?
Those challenges were followed by numerous rained out nights during our biggest fundraiser. But we persevered due to our heart for the animals in our care and the community that is privileged to get to know them through our efforts. This year and the years moving forward do not have to be the same. In working toward a future fully supported by our community, our leadership has worked with business leaders to gain a better perspective on our financial needs and more effective strategies. This assessment has never been done before and will be a key to moving Hollywild toward a firm foundation for the future.
Few nonprofits can function without an annual fundraising campaign designed to support operations. With the cost of feed, hay, and veterinary care, many needed facility upgrades were deferred. We didn't want to appear weak by asking for help. But now, we don't have a choice and we've realized that we should have invited the community to support us with more than their admissions long before now. We've come to realize we have to be smart enough to know we need help and brave enough to ask for it.
The funds we raise will be used to fill budget gaps caused by our tragic 2015 and set our new business model in motion. In addition, we will be able to begin necessary upgrades to animal enclosures and facilities. We want our cougars to have a new climbing area and we want to work to prevent erosion of our walkways and animal habitats, for a start.
We need approximately 50,000 per month beginning March 1 to start reaching our goal.
Hollywild started as a little boy's dream. He had a passion that took him and his animals to Hollywild movie sets. The income from the movies built the park. To ensure it's future, the founder converted the park to a nonprofit, giving it to the community. To honor that gift, and ensure that children for generations to come can hear a lion's roar in person, and feel it right down to their toes, and make sure that the animals continue to have caretakers who know their moods and preferences as if they were their own children, we need you.
Our board, staff, and community will thank you for continuing to help the heart of Hollywild beat strongly. The heart is formed from the Animals and their amazing stories, their keepers and the care they provide, and the people who come see them, learning and making memories that last a lifetime.
So far this year:
We've had the $150,000 raised from a majority of first-time donors - that's huge!
We've sent our animal curator to the ZAA conference to make the connections to help us on the road to getting accreditated
We've developed our first animal collection plan
We've received a $20,000+ in-kind gift of website re-design and marketing support
We've renovated an old unused storage building and turned it into an education center where we can offer year-round classes
We've improved the standards of animal care by aligning our practices to our goals for ZAA accreditation
We've met our staffing goals, improving the keeper-to-animal ratio which means we've improved animal care in all areas
We've built partnerships with numerous other agencies to build our future
We were awarded an AmeriCorps NCCC team to come help us improve our infrastructure
In short, we're rockin' and rollin' toward a great future, but we still need fuel for getting there.
WE CAN DO IT, with YOUR HELP!
Hi my name is jason jones david meeks is my uncle. The zoo has been in my family for years . i also grew up there .i remember when it was called m&m zoo. I really dont want the zoo to close.its an awsome zoo. Yall r doin a really good job with the zoo. & with the animals as well & i want to thank yall for helping my uncle with the zoo. Yall r really nice & friendly people. Keep up the good work. As my wife always says have faith & believe. & pray, god is always there for everyone.
Thank u so much i know david is very proud of yall for what u do