I want to tell you about Zoofari. Zoofari is an initiative we’re part of at The Hamilton Zoo. The four zoos in NZ are all a part of it in conjunction with The Warehouse (kind of NZ’s slightly more ideologically palatable Walmart). The Warehouse has a group of programs where you can add a single dollar to your purchase and then they take that money and put it to something good. There are a bunch of them. I can’t speak for all of them. I can speak for Zoofari.
I do most of the Zoo-side logistics of Zoofari. It allows us to invite low decile schools to visit the zoo. We subsidise entrance fees and transport fees. Schools apply, we accept their applications, and we get to bring these kids to the zoo.
This is life-changing shit, you guys. Some of the kids who come to the zoo have never left their hometowns. Most of them have never seen a rhino or a tiger in real life. Watching a fifteen-year-old go from being too cool for school to a conduit of wonder as he gets to pat a rhino on the shoulder is one of the great joys of my job. Talking to these kids, watching their excitement, getting to occasionally watch that conservation penny drop in their heads as they stare straight into the eyes of a giraffe – I watch magic happen with these groups.
I had a conversation with an 11-year-old recently that went something like this:
Kid: Miss, how do I become a zookeeper?
Me: You study hard, and then you go do a course about it. I can email your teacher the details if you want.
Kid: Yeah. I want to do this now.
Kid’s friend: Bro. I thought you wanted to own The Warehouse?
Kid: *staring back towards the rhino he just encountered* I’ve changed my mind.
It could be a passing fancy. It could be the moment this child’s life changes direction.
I watch these moments happen with these kids all the time.
And you know what makes that possible?
People adding a dollar to their purchase at The Warehouse. One. Dollar.
I always do it now, no matter what program is currently being fundraised for. Because I have seen first hand the difference it makes. Whether I’m buying All The Christmas Presents or one thing of bubble bath, I add the dollar.
I have multiple Patreons, for the different things in my life. The vast majority of patrons are 1-5 dollars a month. Those Patreons allow me to keep this job I love at the Zoo. If I didn’t have them, I would have to quit and find something more full time that pays better. They allow me to keep working on Wolfenoot, on the Raven, on making books, on creating magical kindness internet machines.
I think a lot of people are vaguely embarrassed to only give a dollar, like they feel like they should do more. And then they end up not giving anything, because it seems too small. I think a lot of people feel like the problems of the world are so huge that doing a tiny thing is useless. I’m combating that, as much as I can, with my Just One Thing project. (If you haven’t, please check it out. It suggests one thing a day that you can do to help save the world. If we all did these small things each day, things would change fast.) Small things can make a big difference, if you have enough of them.
One dollar can make more difference than you can imagine. One action can make more difference than you can imagine. Don’t underestimate it. Small things add up. Trust me. I live that truth every single day.