People are inspired to become GLAZA members for many reasons. Some enjoy time at the park with family and friends; some feel inspired to support the Zoo’s important conservation work; and most visit the Zoo because they love animals. For Matt Carey, membership is a combination of all these reasons and more.
Along with his family, Carey has been a member for 24 of his 26 years; he thinks of the Zoo as his second home. His earliest memories are of visiting the Zoo with his sketchbook in one hand and his mother’s hand in the other, racing to his favorite animals to draw the day away.
“All the animals have unique personalities. I really want to show the world how beautiful they are and make a difference for wildlife.”
A regular L.A. Zoo-goer would probably recognize Carey from his bright smile and contagious, exuberant energy, but the item that gives him away is his camera. An avid photographer, Carey loves to capture portraits of animals. “I love getting the eyes and trying to connect the souls,” he explains. “I know that some people are ambivalent about zoos, but by spending a lot of time here, I am able get to know the animals and see that they are at home. All the animals have unique personalities. I really want to show the world how beautiful they are and make a difference for wildlife.”
Visiting the Zoo at least three times a week has enabled Carey to cultivate friendships with people he never knew before, from keepers and other Zoo staff to other members. “We all form our own community,” he says. “It’s a really good group of people in the place that inspired me to love animals.”