Members of the Los Angeles Zoo since 1979, the Ivanjack family became deeply involved in 1997, when Sue noticed an invitation in the Zooscape newsletter to attend a student volunteer orientation. Her daughter, Rebecca, was in high school at the time and thinking about attending veterinary school. Sue thought she might enjoy volunteering at the Zoo. At the orientation, Sue’s interest was piqued by the docent program, and, as a result, Rebecca and Sue both joined their respective programs that fall, driving to the Zoo every Saturday morning for 23 weeks, training and quizzing each other about animal facts. The two spent the next two years as a happy team, touring on the weekends and working special events.
“Being part of something as amazing and wonderful as our Zoo has been richly rewarding, both as a way to give back to the community in L.A., a city I love very much, and to help effect change in the minds of people who don’t understand the importance of zoos in the modern world.”
Sue and her husband, Larry, had made small donations to the Zoo throughout their married life. But after Sue became a docent and realized how valuable the Zoo was to the Los Angeles community and the animals of the world, they decided to increase their giving. At the time, their family’s finances were in a comfortable position, and they began giving generously to several institutions, including the Zoo. Since Sue has not been able to convince Larry to take the docent class with her, she sees it as the next best thing.
“Being part of something as amazing and wonderful as our Zoo has been richly rewarding, both as a way to give back to the community in L.A., a city I love very much, and to help effect change in the minds of people who don’t understand the importance of zoos in the modern world,” Sue explains. “If I’ve helped one person understand that you can’t save what you don’t love, you can’t love what you don’t know, and you can’t know what you don’t see, then I am a happy person.”
The Ivanjacks’ influence has been felt across the Zoo; in addition to volunteerism, their support ranges from Safari Society and conservation appeal donations to commemoratives and special project assistance. With their help, the past 39 years have been full of growth and impact.