SYC: 8-year-old from Dysart raising money for Blank Park Zoo

Published: Aug. 2, 2020 at 5:51 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A popular zoo in Des Moines sent out a letter to members asking for help because it’s struggling because of Coronavirus. Now an 8-year-old from Dysart is answering the call.

You can find Ainsley Reece every Tuesday at Dysart's farmer's market passing out cookies. She makes the sweet treats herself.

“Delicious chocolate cookies,” explained Reece. “With buttercream, with vanilla buttercream sandwiched together.” People can grab a cookie and leave a donation for the zoo. The fundraiser is a labor of love for her furry friends. “I love animals and I go to that zoo a lot,” she said. “So I wanted to help them out.”

It's been a struggle for Blank Park Zoo because of the pandemic. The nonprofit closed in March for 9 weeks.

“It cost about $19,000 per day to operate the zoo,” said Vice President for Blank Park Zoo, Amanda Nuzum. “So when you are closed for 9 weeks that is $19,000 per day that is not coming in your operations.”

Workers still had to work to take care of the animals. They took pay cuts and worked fewer hours to help with some of the financial burdens. Plus, leaders say business has been slow since they opened back up. Donations are still needed.

“It’s an incredible need,” said Nuzum. “Without going into a specific dollar amount. The financial loss we are looking at the end of the year is extremely significant.”

But its people like Reece that keeps them going. “Hearing about it, knowing about it, talking about it, to actually physically doing something about it is extremely admirable,” Nuzum said of Reece. “We are just kind of in awe.”

Reece will raise money for the zoo at the farmer’s market all summer. It won’t be the last time Ainsley helps out animals. “I have three dogs at home so I spend a lot of time with them,” said Reece. “I want to be a veterinarian when I grow up too.”

Reece is the market with her parents every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. People can learn more about Blank Park Zoo by visiting their website:

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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