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Young Wellesley resident foregoes birthday gifts to raise money for Zoo New England

RibaudoZoo New England’s Franklin Park Zoo welcomed a special visitor on February 1, when Wellesley resident Leo Ribaudo, age 8, visited to present Zoo New England President and CEO John Linehan with checks and cash totaling nearly $600. In lieu of birthday gifts, Leo asked his friends and family to make a donation to Zoo New England.

 "The recent documentary Racing Extinction left a sad impression on our family and I wanted to make a difference - by denying birthday gifts in exchange for donations to help Amari to grow healthy and help the Zoo to protect giraffes from possible extinction," said Leo.

 Leo visited with his parents Bill and Svetlana and younger brother Eliy, and while at the Zoo they had the opportunity to meet Amari, a 7-month-old giraffe calf. His parents said, "As a family we try hard to focus on sustainability and are conscience of global ecology."

 “Leo’s selfless gesture on behalf of animals is incredibly heartwarming and we are all touched by his generosity and caring,” Linehan said. “It’s always inspiring when people, particularly children, are moved by the Zoo and our animals to take action and make a difference in their community.”

Amari, the giraffe calf, was born July 24 at Franklin Park Zoo. Due to medical issues following her birth, she has been hand-reared, which has required around the clock dedicated attention, coordination and teamwork by the zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Thanks to all of the dedicated care, Amari continues to thrive. She made her exhibit debut with her mother Jana last fall. Learn more about Amari as well as support her specialized care.