BILLINGS – An anonymous donor has gifted ZooMontana one of the largest one-time gifts in the zoo’s history, zoo officials announced Monday.
The $333,000 financial gift came as a welcomed surprise and will be used to semi-endow the zoo’s education program, a press release states.
“We are beyond excited to receive this gift, and will dedicate ourselves to meeting the donor’s wishes,” said Jeff Ewelt, Executive Director of ZooMontana. “This wonderful philanthropist asked that the money be used for area youth, so we will safely invest the gift and utilize the yearly interest to purchase necessary, yearly supplies needed to run the zoo’s educational programming”.
ZooMontana’s education program reaches over 20,000 students per year, both on and off zoo grounds. In 2020, the zoo’s education team created virtual programming as a response to COVID-19, allowing them to reach a worldwide audience that included programming in India, Qatar, and Brazil, among numerous states and towns within Montana. Slowly but surely, in-person programming is coming back, which includes a teen volunteer camp this summer, the press release states.
Ewelt added that specific gifts like this one allow the zoo to bolster programming, while freeing up funds for other aspects of the zoo, helping to ensure the overall sustainability of the organization.