Cancellation of Rendezvous at the Zoo leads to a new virtual fundraising event for EATM

Bryenna+Workman+releases+Salsa%2C+the+31+year-old+Catalina+Macaw%2C+during+dress+rehearsal+for+the+2019+Spring+Spectacular+at+America%27s+Teaching+Zoo+at+Moorpark+College+on+Thursday%2C+March+7%2C+2019.+Salsa+made+a+flying+entrance+and+exit+over+the+crowd%2C+flaunting+his+feathers.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt

Bryenna Workman releases Salsa, the 31 year-old Catalina Macaw, during dress rehearsal for the 2019 Spring Spectacular at America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Salsa made a flying entrance and exit over the crowd, flaunting his feathers. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Audrey Lang

After almost six months, America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College has finally reopened its premises. This past Friday, Sept. 19, the zoo was officially cleared to open to the public. Unfortunately, the zoo’s biggest fundraising event, Rendezvous at the Zoo, is cancelled.

Rendezvous at the Zoo has been an extremely beneficial fundraiser for the Exotic Animal Training and Management program.

The Rendezvous fundraising event invites the community to the zoo, allowing the students an opportunity to inform the public and support their program. This event not only heavily involves the community, but also emphasizes the students participation in learning the inner workings of the zoo events.

The Zoo’s Operations Assistant, Kris Romero, shared the program’s benefits from the fundraiser.

Romero said that Rendezvous at the Zoo, “Allowed our students to experience a high end fundraiser as they will when they work in other facilities. It also allowed us to raise funds for zoo expansion and improvements.”

EATM student Anthony Portillo, right, and Delilah, a Blue Crane, perform for the audience at Rendezvous at the Zoo, on Saturday, Nov. 9. Photo credit: Dominic D'Amico
EATM student Anthony Portillo, right, and Delilah, a Blue Crane, perform for the audience at Rendezvous at the Zoo, on Saturday, Nov. 9. Photo credit: Dominic D’Amico

The students involve themselves in planning a large fundraising event, work behind the scenes, as well as introduce the community to the zoo and the EATM program.

The cancellation of Rendezvous at the Zoo forces the EATM program to get creative in hosting a new virtual fundraising event.

Mara Rodriguez of Zoo Operations commented on the new online fundraiser.

Rodriguez stated, “We will be rolling out a new online fundraiser that will be a lot of fun. Our students will be heavily involved and it will launch around the time Rendezvous would have taken place.”

Rodriguez’s new online fundraiser will involve all EATM students. The plan splits the students into teams, as this new fundraiser will spark a friendly competition among the students and hopefully reach a larger crowd.

The launch date for the new online fundraiser is expected to be announced in the beginning of October.

Rodriguez is planning many new creative ways to gain support from the community and raise awareness for the zoo.

Kelcey Correa (left) bringing Maxine, an Argentine Black-and-White Tegu, around for guests to meet and interact with. Maxine and many other animals were showcased at the Rendezvous at the Zoo, on Saturday, Nov. 9. Photo credit: Dominic D'Amico
Kelcey Correa (left) bringing Maxine, an Argentine Black-and-White Tegu, around for guests to meet and interact with. Maxine and many other animals were showcased at the Rendezvous at the Zoo, on Saturday, Nov. 9. Photo credit: Dominic D’Amico

Rodriguez receives help from her fellow colleagues including the EATM Department Chair, Brenda Woodhouse. Woodhouse emphasized the importance of creating new ways to connect with the community as well as raise money for the program.

“With these unpredictable times, we need to continue to find ways to adapt, be creative, have fun and to connect with our guests and supporters,” said Woodhouse.

COVID-19 not only temporarily closed the zoo, but it also forced the EATM program to recreate their events. The distance learning and events forces a big push of postings on social media.

The reliance on social media and online fundraising has a better chance of generating greater community support for the program. The EATM have also set up more sponsorships and a GoFundMe page to help raise awareness.

Rodriguez made a final comment on their need for community support, “Fundraising never takes a day off, but as you can imagine, this is a difficult time to fundraise the traditional way. We need community support now, more than ever.”