Zoo Update with Denise Verret

Baby gorilla hanging on mother gorilla.
The Year in Review: 2020’s Greatest Hits
December 15, 2020
A finch perched on toyon

Toyon, also known as California holly, is an easy to grow native plant that produces a bounty of berries that attract wild birds, including housefinches. Photo by Tad Motoyama

As the final month of 2020 draws to a close, I find myself embarking on my favorite holiday tradition—reflecting on the past year with a thankful heart. As you can imagine, 2020 was filled with challenges that in the moment seemed unprecedented and often hard to bear, but I am grateful for the lessons I learned while overcoming these obstacles. There were also plenty of instances where a hopeful light was turned on in the darkness as the people in my life showed compassion, empathy, and fortitude. I’m humbled by their acts of humanity and grateful for their wisdom which inspired hope in the face of great adversity.

The year 2020 was a formidable foe, but it also ushered in necessary conversations, actions, and opportunities for positive change. We are living through a worldwide pandemic, responses to systemic racial injustice, and record-breaking wildfires due to climate change. So, what got me through these extraordinary times? What fed my soul and helped me continue the important work I set out to do each and every day? The answer may surprise you, but if you know me personally, it probably won’t surprise you at all. I sought refuge in the gifts of NATURE. I found myself going back to the basics and having gratitude for a sunny day, the sweet smell of fresh air, a flock of birds flying overhead, or the intricate patterns in the leaves on the trees.

Perhaps the value of nature was amplified this year because so many of us had these simple luxuries stripped from our daily lives when we were quarantined to our homes in the Spring due to the pandemic. When the Zoo closed in March, we received countless emails and posts on social media from guests and supporters who told us how much they missed coming to the Zoo and connecting with the animals and nature they know and love. When restrictions lessened, our community stepped out of their homes and back into the world to enjoy the wondrous gifts of nature that had been out of reach. So, as you and your loved ones are reconnecting with the intricacies of the natural world, I implore you to be stewards of these gifts. Human acts are destroying our world and causing man-made global warming, a change that is visible before our very eyes in the wildfires that are burning all around us. But there are small things we can do every day to minimize the dangers to Earth’s natural resources. I encourage everyone to think about the packaging before you buy products, turn off lights and other electronics when you don’t need them, recycle and compost, be mindful of your water usage, adopt animals that need good homes, build native gardens for birds in your yard, replant trees in forests that have been cut down, and encourage those around you to live in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.

As we bring 2020 to a close, I hope the gifts of nature can inspire us as humans to value outdoor spaces, nature, wildlife and the preservation of our Earth for future generations. The Los Angeles Zoo is ready to enter 2021 with vigor and hope as we further our commitment to inclusivity and engaging all audiences to join us in our commitment in saving wildlife and nature. I would like to say thank you for your continued support of the Los Angeles Zoo, a love that allows us to do our important work on behalf of nature and wildlife.