Although a Battle Creek zoo will not open its season as scheduled, it is helping its community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Binder Park Zoo delivered meals, food items and personal protection equipment to its local medical facility and nonprofit organizations.
The zoo prepared approximately 300 meals and donated them to S.A.F.E. Place of Battle Creek, United Way of Albion/Homer and Marshall House in Marshall. The zoo also donated bulk food items to create an additional 400 meals to the Share Center of Battle Creek.
“These meals were met with smiles as they were delivered to community members in the Albion and Homer area,” said Marcia Starkey, executive director of the Albion-Homer United Way, said. “It was a nice surprise to have a dinner ready to eat in these trying times.”
The meals and food items were initially for zoo visitors who visit the two restaurants on the zoo property, Beulah’s and Kalahari Kitchen.
“We had a pretty good inventory of food on hand, and while it would keep, we felt it could be put to better use helping out those who might be in need by the crisis caused by COVID 19,” said Brian McCorkell, general manager of food and retail for Binder Park Zoo.
An inventory of face shields, N95 masks, disposable gowns, surgical masks and caps, foot covers and gloves from the zoo’s vet hospital was delivered by Zoomobile to the Bronson Battle Creek Hospital collection site.
“It’s not unusual for zoos to receive donations of equipment and supplies from human hospitals,” said Dr. Kim Thompson, staff veterinarian at Binder Park Zoo. “Now the opposite is happening. And while it isn’t an enormous quantity, we are happy to return the favor and do what we can by donating important PPE equipment to help keep our health care professionals safe.”
The zoo was required to suspend programs and delay its opening day, which was scheduled for April 16.
“Like other organizations unable to open to the public, the zoo is in a tenuous position, as well, but we have something positive that we can share right now — an inventory of food for our communities and supplies our health care providers need,” said Leslie Walsh, the zoo’s manager of marketing and development. “To help bridge some gaps is a way we can give back and, maybe, provide a bit of inspiration at the same time.”