Gratitude Report 2021 – 2022

The Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Malaysia.

One day for wildlife.

local action, global impact

Orangutan Jolene at 3 months.
Upper Image: The Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Malaysia.
Lower Image: Orangutan Jolene at 3 months.
We can’t do this work alone — it takes a herd. This year’s Gratitude Report is about one single day at your Oregon Zoo. Everything you read here happened because of you.
Gratitude Report 2021 - 2022
- in support of the oregon zoo -
Zawadi Mungu.
Zawadi Mungu.
a message for you

You are part of something special.

Dear friend,

Memories linger like snapshots in our minds. Years later, we can relive the hot summer day we saw an elephant splashing in the pool or an orangutan building a lofty nest in the shade. Zoos have the power to inspire a connection with wildlife, a power nurtured in shared memories of days when something exciting waited around every corner.

You are a part of something special. As an Oregon Zoo Foundation supporter, you’re advancing our zoo’s amazing work locally and globally. At the same time, you’re helping people create their own lasting zoo memories.

Each year, in our annual report, we look back at some of the best examples of your generosity in action — to show how you make a world of difference.

The task is easy because your support — through memberships, donations, corporate sponsorship, volunteer service and more — sustains vital work and helps the zoo advance its mission.

This year, you kept the lights on and you filled the barns with nutritious, high-quality hay. You helped hatch endangered California condor chicks, and you nurtured tiny caterpillars that would transform into brilliant butterflies. You funded new equipment in our veterinary hospital, fed rescued sea otters and you inspired a young person to learn more about majestic lions Zawadi, Neka, Kya and their counterparts in the wild.

This year’s Gratitude Report is about one single day at your Oregon Zoo: Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Everything you read here happened because of you.

Thank you — we’re lucky to have you in our herd!

With gratitude,

Oregon Map
08.24.2022 | portland, oregon


From inspiring education programs to on-the-ground conservation efforts, we are working to create a better future for wildlife and for us all. We can’t do this work without you.

Amy Hash and Uni Sushi at the zoo’s sea otter habitat.
2,617 people visit the zoo.

2,617 people visit the zoo.

500 people ride the carousel.

500 people ride the carousel.

727 people ride the Zooliner.

727 people ride the Zooliner.

42% are members.

42% are members.

Most come from Oregon and Washington, but visitors also join us from all over N. America and the U.K.

Most come from Oregon and Washington, but visitors also join us from all over N. America and the U.K.

High temperature is 94 degrees, with clear skies.

High temperature is 94 degrees, with clear skies.

800 lbs of nutritious food and 700 lbs of hay are delivered throughout the zoo, feeding over 1,500 animals.

800 lbs of nutritious food and 700 lbs of hay are delivered throughout the zoo, feeding over 1,500 animals.

154 people with lower incomes receive a discount on their admission.

154 people with lower incomes receive a discount on their admission.

First-time mom Kitra with Jolene, who was born at the zoo on April 13, 2022.
First-time mom Kitra with Jolene, who was born at the zoo on April 13, 2022.

A day in the life of Bob, Kitra and Jolene.


Primate keepers Asaba Mukobi and Hannah Carbonneau greet the orangutans and begin to prepare the day’s menu: an assortment of apples, watermelon, grapefruit, yams, bell peppers, turnips, eggplant, endive, cabbage, mixed nuts and banana-flavored primate biscuits.

The orangutan family — Bob, Kitra and baby Jolene — moves indoors, enabling care staff to clean the habitat and prepare for the day ahead. Scattering food, especially in the upper areas of the yard, will encourage foraging and tree climbing throughout the day.

Later, as the orangutans return outside, new mom Kitra receives a postnatal vitamin supplement, and Bob gets a banana with food dye. The dye makes it easier to identify fecal samples in the endocrine lab where Bob and Kitra’s hormone levels are regularly tracked. Oregon Zoo Foundation donors have funded equipment and provide ongoing support for the lab, helping improve animal welfare, advancing our knowledge, and providing answers to pressing questions about animal well-being and behavior.


This monitoring allowed care staff to pinpoint the day Kitra became pregnant and prepare for Jolene’s April arrival.

After lunch, the adult orangutans are given the option to participate in training sessions. Keepers work with Bob on a blood-draw behavior, and work to make Kitra comfortable while they interact with her baby. Baby orangutans spend up to eight years with their moms and hang onto them for most of the first year. Asaba and Hannah ask Kitra to present her baby to them so they can work on getting Jolene used to seeing little droppers, in case she ever needs medicine or supplements as she gets older.

After training sessions, the orangutans enjoy searching for a scattering of popcorn. At the end of the day, they forage for more fruits and vegetables and finish their afternoon solving puzzles filled with delicious treats.

Wild orangutans make their beds in different locations every night. With fresh bedding and blankets throughout the habitat, Bob, Kitra and Jolene snuggle in for the evening.


Bernadette lines up nicely for training, with one keeper by her tail and another by her head. It can be hard for animals to practice waiting skills, and Bernadette is rewarded after 30 seconds of calm behavior.

Volunteers help monitor the tiger, who on this day is experiencing some health issues (a temporary form of diabetes that has since resolved). Training promotes well-being and reduces stress during medical procedures.


A dozen California condor chicks splash in pools and sunbathe with their parents at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation. Care staff monitor their health and observe their antics via remote cameras.

The 12-chick cohort is the biggest yet in the zoo’s 19-year effort to save this species from extinction. With just around 500 California condors left in the world, each new arrival is vitally important.

California condor recovery efforts take place at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in rural Clackamas County, Oregon. The remoteness of the facility minimizes the exposure of young condors to people, increasing the chances for them to survive and breed in the wild.


  • Staff and volunteers log 1,404 interactions with guests, answering questions about animals, wildlife conservation and wayfinding.
  • 90 summer school students explore the zoo.


Moshu relaxes after feasting on bamboo provided by the zoo horticulture team. At 11, he is quite old for a red panda and has been slowing down. Ramps in his habitat make it easier for him get around, and monthly cold-laser therapy helps him stay limber.

Caregivers work with Moshu on crate training to make his vet center visits more pleasant.


Zoo staff meet with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists to discuss plans for releasing zoo-reared northern leopard frogs to the wild in the Moses Lake area.


  • Animal-care staff move all waterfowl inside, and prepare to bring the rest of zoo’s birds indoors, as a precaution against avian influenza.
  • Veterinarians take routine radiographs of Asian elephant Samudra’s tusks.
  • Vet techs make “house calls,” joining keepers for training sessions with cheetahs, cougars, black rhinos and chimpanzees. Training promotes well-being and reduces stress during medical procedures.


Humboldt penguins complete their “catastrophic molt” — which isn’t as bad as it sounds! While most seabirds replace their feathers gradually, penguins shed them all at once. The process takes three to four weeks, and on this day the last penguin in the colony to complete the molt has donned a fresh new “tux.”


Staff at the zoo’s Butterfly Conservation Lab prepare to receive Oregon silverspots from the coast, while caring for 246 eggs laid by zoo-bred silverspots.

This happens nowhere else in the galaxy that we know of!

They also monitor silverspots that have moved into diapause — which is like hibernation for insects — keeping them safe in a temperature range that mimics conditions at the coast.

On the sun porch behind the lab, staff tend to early blue violet plants, the main food source for silverspot caterpillars as they mature into adult butterflies.

Join our Giving Circle and do more.

Giving Circle members share a passion for animals and the natural world and are deeply committed to supporting exceptional care for black rhinoceroses Jozi and King, and for all the animals at the zoo. Through Giving Circle, hundreds of families and individuals across the region are coming together for wildlife! To learn how you can join this dynamic pack in creating a better future for wildlife, visit or call 503-220-2493.

Black rhinoceroses King and Jozi.
Black rhinoceroses King and Jozi.
08.24.2022 | sabah, malaysia

Together for wildlife and people.

Since 2008, the Oregon Zoo and Oregon Zoo Foundation have supported community-based organizations working to conserve threatened species, restore habitat, reduce human-wildlife conflict and promote coexistence in the Malaysian state of Sabah. Foundation donors have given generously to support this work, helping to sustain important long-term partnerships.

Much of Sabah — which covers the northern portion of the island of Borneo — has been logged and converted to oil palm plantations. Malaysia produces more than 40% of the world’s palm oil, a key ingredient in many cosmetics, cleaners and packaged foods. Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation threaten the survival of many native species, including Bornean orangutans and elephants.

Rainforest in Sabah, a Malaysian state occupying the northern part of the island of Borneo.

Replanting forests helps create a better future for all.

Nestled on the banks of the Kinabatangan River, Sukau is a remote enclave with one restaurant, a few shops and lodges for tourists eager to see the region’s amazing wildlife. On Aug. 24, women from the Hutan Reforestation Unit gather their tools and head out of the village by boat.

Today, the reforestation unit is planting trees. The team moves through the site, digging holes with a spade, planting saplings grown at a nursery in the village, and tagging them.

They also maintain previously planted areas, cutting grass with a machete and pulling weeds by hand to prevent them from overtaking the tiny saplings. Each site is monitored for five years to make sure the trees are established.

The goal is to create forest corridors, allowing orangutans, elephants and other wildlife to move freely along the riverbanks while bypassing the palm plantations.

Dr. Sharon Glaeser, a conservation scientist at the Oregon Zoo, is in Borneo on a seven-week trip to support our partners in the region and help improve the welfare of elephants in the care of Sabah Wildlife Department.

She has visited five times since 2015, spending time with the reforestation unit and even planting some trees herself. Seeing the forest change over time, she says, sparks hope.

An aerial view of the region shows a landscape dotted with rows of identical palm trees, their tops resembling giant green pinwheels. Thirteen years ago, the spaces between these orderly plantations were barren. Today, more than 50 tree species grow there, most of them fruit-bearing to provide food for wildlife. The Hutan team plants about 30,000 saplings a year, about 80% of which reach maturity. Since the organization’s founding, the women have planted more than 200,000 trees that still stand today.

Wildlife surveys have documented nearly 150 species — including hornbills, orangutans and flying lemurs — taking advantage of the abundant resources in these restored habitats.

“People can do amazing things,” Glaeser says. “We are seeing a landscape emerge that allows movement and provides safe harbor for wildlife.”

HUTAN Reforestation Unit laughing and showing their strength after a morning of hard work in the forest.

Community-based conservation.

Hutan considers human well-being and wildlife conservation as interdependent. Community-led habitat restoration helps secure the long-term survival of endangered species while members of the local community are earning income supporting conservation activities — the goal is to help humans and wildlife.

“People are thriving because they have jobs, and young people are getting opportunities to become leaders through certificate programs, training and education,” Glaeser says.

“They can live in the village where they grew up, where their ancestors lived.”

Borneo Elephant Sanctuary staff live on grounds, tending to the needs five rescued Asian elephants.
Samudra in his mud wallow at the Oregon Zoo.
Samudra in his mud wallow at the Oregon Zoo. With 60 years of caring for elephants at the zoo, our staff is well-positioned to help the wildlife team in Sabah.

Knowledge exchange for the well-being of elephants.

On Aug. 24, Glaeser and Jason Miles, a member of the zoo’s elephant care team, are at the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary, about 18 miles from where the Hutan team is working along the Kinabatangan River.

It was no small feat to get here. Surrounded by plantations on all sides, it is hot, humid and green as far as the eye can see. A pied hornbill flies from a lamppost to a tree. Macaques, butterflies and monitor lizards are everywhere. In the center of the yard, a large tropical oak — a Quercus argentata — with giant offshoots creates pillars in the pond where on most days the elephants swim.

Five elephants live here on 3,000 acres — one female, Limba, and four males, Adun, Budak, Danum and Gaboron. In total, there are 23 elephants in three facilities managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department.

Assuring the well-being of these orphaned elephants is an area where the zoo is well-positioned to help. Foundation donors have funded the salaries for full-time caregivers in Sabah, and they have supported sending zoo staff to the region to share training and husbandry expertise — gained from more than 60 years of caring for elephants at the Oregon Zoo — with the wildlife team in Borneo.

At the Oregon Zoo, caregivers train animals with positive reinforcement, using a clicker or whistle to mark a desired behavior and reinforcing the behavior with a reward. Delivering the mark and treat at the right time is important because you don’t want to reinforce the wrong behavior. “Timing is everything,” Miles explains. “If your timing is off, there can be confusion between the trainer and the elephant.”

Miles began his zoo career caring for big cats, but when he started working with elephants, he was smitten. “I still love lions and tigers, but once I got around elephants, it was totally different,” he says. “You can just look at them and they’re thinking — they’re deciding.”

Gambaron after a good swim at Borneo Elephant Sanctuary. At age 30, Gambaron, the only resident adult bull, plays an important role in the social development of the young male elephants living at the sanctuary.

Some members of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary care team with Sharon Glaeser and Jason Miles (3rd and 4th from left). Sanctuary staff are a close-knit group — working and living together makes much of daily life communal. After meal prep and dinner, evenings are spent talking with their families, playing games and laughing with each other.

A magical day at the elephant sanctuary.

For Glaeser and Miles, this day is a magical one. They have spent more than a week with sanctuary staff members. Initially, Miles was concerned that the people and elephants might not understand him, but things are starting to fall into place.

“My goal was to teach the staff our style of training,” Miles says. “I was excited, but also worried that I would get here and nothing would work. Then I had this light-bulb moment: Think of the routine as a dance. This is step one, this is what step two looks like, then we go to step three.…”

The dance lessons proved a success. By day four, both elephants and staff were understanding the Oregon Zoo’s elephant routine, and today — day nine — things are starting to click.

Everyone gets in on the encouragement, saying “good boy” at the perfect time and cheering each other on as staff and elephants learn together. The afternoon is filled with laughter and teasing as staff develop the skills they set out to learn.

Miles also talks with the team about how to spot symptoms of EEHV, a rapidly progressing and often fatal disease to which young elephants are particularly susceptible.

The disease affects all Asian elephants — whether wild or in human care — and unfortunately, Sabah has lost elephants to it in recent years. The Oregon Zoo provided emergency medication for the Borneo team in 2020, and is now helping them build capacity for monitoring, diagnostics and treatment.

“It really makes me feel good that I am able to benefit the elephant community globally,” Miles adds. “I’ve left my own little fingerprint over here, which I’m super proud of.”

Wild Bornean elephant calf along the bank of the Kinabatangan River. The calf was spotted traveling along a restored forest corridor with a large herd.

Wild Bornean elephant calf along the bank of the Kinabatangan River. The calf was spotted traveling along a restored forest corridor with a large herd.

A blessing for the trees.

In the weeks before visiting the elephant sanctuary, Glaeser was teaching a university course in community-based conservation, and returned to the forest with the Hutan team to learn the art of seedling maintenance and to plant trees in a new wildlife corridor — it was a moving experience for all.

For Glaeser, planting the trees was a small action with a big impact. “It’s not just a beautiful place,” Glaeser says. “Seeing this community working together is so inspiring and hopeful. Planting a tree that is providing a safe place for wildlife makes me feel like a little bit of my heart, a little bit of myself, is in Borneo.”

Each person said a blessing for their new trees. One woman in the group, who’d just had a baby, told her tree, “You are the same age as my son — you’re both going to do good work and you’re both going to take care of the environment.”

Since the location of every plot is recorded, her son could visit one day, see the tree his mom planted, and witness the rejuvenation of the forest and the wildlife it supports.

From your own backyard in Portland to Borneo and beyond, gifts to the Oregon Zoo Foundation fund on-the-ground conservation efforts that help wildlife and communities thrive. To make a gift or learn more email or call 503-220-2493.

together for wildlife

Pack impact.

While this report focuses on a single day, work at the zoo takes place 365 days a year and YOU make it all possible.

11 year old Moshu feasting on bamboo.
11 year old Moshu feasting on bamboo.

In this year’s annual report, we set out to tell the story of one day at the Oregon Zoo. Nothing was unusual or different about Aug. 24. There were the same animals to care for and details to manage to help thousands of guests create lifelong memories and experience the wonder of our natural world.

On any given day, the horticulture team provides browse for the animals while making the zoo buzz with life and color. They grow bamboo for elephants and red pandas, and cultivate early blue violets to help with butterfly conservation.

On any given day, teens from our Zoo Apprenticeship Program lead tours for community-based organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of SW Washington and the Native American Youth and Family Center. This summer, they connected with 421 youths through our ZAP-to-Zoo program — facilitating games, providing lunch, attending keeper talks, and helping them choose souvenirs from the gift shop.

And on any given day, people are coming together to restore native habitats and advocate for wildlife — inviting elected officials on tours to encourage support for important legislation, volunteering to serve on the foundation board, and helping to ferry tiny native frogs back out into the wild.

Thanks to members and donors, the zoo received $5.2 million this year to support education, conservation and animal well-being.

From right here in your backyard to Borneo and beyond, we are working to create a better future for wildlife. While this report focuses on a single day at the zoo, know that we do this work 365 days a year and YOU make it all happen. None of this would be possible without your generous support.

Thank you for being part of our pack!

Senior Keeper Nicole Nicassio and ZAP associate Markel Denfeld preparing polar bear diets for Amelia Gray (pictured) and Nora.
Senior Keeper Nicole Nicassio and ZAP associate Markel Denfeld preparing polar bear diets for Amelia Gray (pictured) and Nora.

Caring for wildlife requires long-term commitment and support.

We are deeply grateful to our Wildlife Legacy Society members and to donors to our endowment funds. Their future gifts will sustain the zoo’s vital work for years to come. Email or call 503-914-6029 to learn more.

great impact

All the stories we love.

One Day At Your Zoo

One Day At Your Zoo

From inspiring education programs to on-the-ground conservation efforts, we are working to create a better future for wildlife and for us all.

read full story

it takes a pack

Your financial impact.

small actions

Make a world of difference.

Orangutans and Asian elephants are critically endangered, largely because of habitat loss driven by logging and the conversion of forests into oil palm plantations. Around 90% of the world’s palm oil is produced on the only two islands where these charismatic animals live.
Jolene at the Oregon Zoo.
As a voting member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, your zoo is shifting the industry toward more wildlife- and habitat-friendly practices. Oregon Zoo Foundation board members collaborate with the zoo, encouraging companies to switch to deforestation-free palm oil and advocating for policy to ensure America’s supply chains do not contribute to illegal deforestation. Through our conservation partnerships in Borneo, we’re improving the well-being of wildlife affected by palm oil production, and supporting community-led efforts to enhance human-wildlife coexistence.

*Jolene at the Oregon Zoo.
Bob the orangutan at the Oregon Zoo.
you belong

Membership matters.

Becoming a zoo member is a small action that makes a big impact. Members belong to a pack that includes more than 35,000 households, sustaining animal well-being, species recovery work and conservation education — all while enjoying rich zoo experiences and creating lifelong memories.

Your membership directly supports animal care and well-being. When you see black bears splashing in their tubs or sea otters snacking on high-quality seafood, know that you’re helping these remarkable animals thrive!

To join, renew or give a membership, email or visit

Foundation Milestones

What began as a collection of exotic animals gifted to the City of Portland in 1888 has become an internationally recognized leader in conservation, education and animal welfare, thanks to generations of incredible community support. The Oregon Zoo is a local treasure, and we are so much more. Here are a few donor-supported milestones in the foundation’s history.


After years of planning and construction, we helped the zoo celebrate opening three new habitats in 2021. Polar bear siblings Nora and Amelia Gray are making a big splash in their saltwater pools at Polar Passage. The chimpanzee family settled in at Primate Forest. And two eastern black rhinos, King and Jozi, have moved in at Rhino Ridge, heralding a new chapter in the conservation of this critically endangered species. You made these habitats a reality.

Not all the news was big – our donors also supported raising and releasing hundreds of tiny native butterflies, pond turtles and frogs back into the wild. And, they provided $856,000 for conservation initiatives for beavers, sea otters and more. Thank you for sparking hope and helping create a better future for wildlife!

Read our complete 2020-2021 Gratitude Report here.


Around the world, we experienced loss, trauma and drastic change in response to a global pandemic — but also innovation and inspiring helpfulness. When the zoo closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, thousands of members and donors rallied to help, giving a combined $1 million in just three weeks. The Oregon Zoo Foundation board of trustees matched these gifts with additional relief from a reserve fund held for unforeseen zoo emergencies — for a total infusion of $2 million to meet the zoo’s emergency operating needs.

Though the zoo was quiet during its 117-day closure, fresh fruit was still carefully measured and cut to serve bats and chimps each day; Asian elephant Samudra’s penchant for plunging into a 60,000-gallon swimming pool continued unabated; African lion Zawadi guarded his pride as fiercely as ever; and the zoo’s Veterinary Medical Center provided outstanding care for all the animals.

Read our complete 2019-2020 Gratitude Report here. 

A community of support.

Board officers

Kim Overhage,  Chair
Sharla Settlemier, Immediate Past Chair
Melanie Billings-Yun, Vice Chair
Charissa Anderson, Treasurer
Barbara Wegner, Secretary

Board members

Melissa Bobadilla
David Brewer*
Jinn Brunk*
Laurie Christensen
Katharine Coakley*
Raimund Grube*
Kevin Hanna
Susan Hartnett
Nan Heim*
Allegra Hodges
Jeremy Horner
Tom Hughes
Laura Imeson*
Lance Inouye
Josef Kiesenhofer
Allen Kim
Bob Maloney*
Niels Marquardt
Bandana Shrestha
Hannah Smith
Nidhi Thakar*
Kim VanSyoc
Nancy Jo Visenberg


Ex-officio and emeritus members

Christine Lewis, Metro Council District 2
Gerritt Rosenthal, Metro Council District 3
Juan Carlos González, Metro Council District 4*
Julie Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Oregon Zoo Foundation
Heidi Rahn, Zoo Director, Oregon Zoo
Sigrid Button, Trustee Emeritus in Memoriam
Tracey Clark, Trustee Emeritus
Rob Erickson, Trustee Emeritus
C. Kregg Hanson, Trustee Emeritus
Nancy Hinnen, Trustee Emeritus
Dan Jarman, Trustee Emeritus
Mark Loomis, Trustee Emeritus


Julie Fitzgerald Executive Director
Tonia Nelson Board Administrator &
Executive Coordinator
Jenny Woodman Communication Manager

Christine Alexander Director, Membership &
Development Database Systems
Kym Amador Lead Membership Specialist
Linda Seeley Membership Specialist
Katelyn Abraham Membership Specialist
Rebecca Dixon Membership Specialist

Maria Reyes Director of Development
Susan Daigle Major Gifts & Planned Giving Manager
Ashley Hardt Annual Giving Manager
Amber Morrison Foundations & Corporate Giving Manager
Randy Siebert Development Database Administrator
Lesley Rodell Special Events &
Community Engagement Associate
Micaela Lueders Stewardship & Donor Care Associate
Skyler McShane Development Coordinator

Ruth Walkowski Director of Finance & Operations
Kristine Caldicott Controller
Ana DeBrock Accounting, Operations &
Culture Analyst
Danika Berousek HR Business Partner

* Thank you to these immediate past trustees,
whose service ended June 30, 2021