Gardens at the Louisville Zoo

Volunteers: The Heartbeat of the Louisville Zoo

It takes work, dedication and many, many helping hands to make your Louisville Zoo a world-class, award-winning destination for family fun. Meet two of our volunteers who make a huge difference at the Louisville Zoo!

don_blantonDonald Blanton

If you see a man with a brightly colored shirt and a big bucket hat lingering on the Zoo’s main plaza, it is most likely Don, one of our greeters. He’s probably chatting up a guest or waving at babies in strollers.

Don has been a big lover of the Louisville Zoo since he visited back in 1969 when the Zoo first opened. He says that his favorite animal is Punch (the elephant). “She’s been here since I can remember. She’s long in the tooth like me! We old folks have to stick together!”

Although he has always been willing to take on any task during his 20-plus years of volunteering, when the Louisville Zoo greeter program restarted in 2009, Don knew that was just the place for him. “I like to talk to people. I enjoy it. I get to help people, answer questions and direct them to the new animal babies. I meet all kinds of interesting people and get to learn about different zoos!”

“The Zoo is really my second home” Don explains. “I spend so much time over here in the spring, summer and fall that people think I sleep under a bush back there!” Lots of the kids recognize him and begin waving from the parking lot. You can visit Don on Thursdays starting this spring. If you see him, be sure to wave! You can’t miss him in his trusty bucket hat. Thank you Don!

anne_ramseyAnne Ramsey

Anne’s a Louisvillian who’s been volunteering at the Zoo on and off since 1999. She started in the Zoo’s former Green Gorilla program that required taking classes and volunteering twenty hours a week. After retiring in 2005, she came back to volunteer in our horticulture and development areas.

Did you know that Anne is the reason that our wonderful Adopt-AGarden program exists? Anne said she got the idea from the Detroit Zoo, and after doing some research, Anne proposed that the Louisville Zoo create a similar program. The Adopt-A-Garden program was in fact developed and has been going strong for six years! “The Zoo needs volunteers, and for people who don’t have a big garden, volunteering is a chance to do some gardening. There’s always something to do and the visitors appreciate the gardens.”

Anne says she enjoys volunteering at the Zoo because she gets to spend time outside in a beautiful place with the animals. “Because you are here, sometimes you find yourself in the right spot at the right time,” she explained. “I was there to see the baby wallabies born a while back. They were so soft!”

So what does Anne like to plant in her adopted garden at the Zoo? “We started with annuals but we’ve switched to mostly perennials to try and ensure things bloom at different times so there’s always something new for people to see: columbine, daffodils, hostas and daisies.” Thank you Anne!

Read more about our Adopt-A-Garden program. For more information on becoming a volunteer, click here!