Lions share with the zoo

Local chapters of the Lions Club broke out their dry erase markers and an oversized check on Thursday, with members gathering with representatives of the Greater Minot Zoological Society outside of the Roosevelt Park Zoo visitor center for a ceremonial presentation.

The Zone 2A chapters of the North Dakota district’s Lions Club raised $14,075 this year for the GMZS, to be used at its discretion. The Zone 2A includes the local Lions chapters of Minot, Magic City, Hooterville (Ruthville), Glenburn, Sawyer, and Garrison. In all, president of the Magic City chapter Josh Ressler estimates there are 125 Lions in the Zone 2A chapters.

“We do a lot of projects around town,” explained Ressler, but “we wanted to do one big donation from all of the clubs.” The money was raised by magician Jay Owenhouse, who held his “Dare to Believe” magic show at the Minot State University Dome in January. This is the second year the club has used Owenhouse’s act for their fundraiser, which among other things features a pair of tigers. The magician from Bozeman, Mont., had held a show for the previous year’s collection, raising around $12,000 to go toward the rebuilding of Longfellow School’s playground equipment.

Warren Gamas, a member of the Magic City Lions and chair of teacher education at MSU, was enthusiastic about Owenhouse’s involvement. “It’s nice having a family-friendly show,” he said, something “that everybody enjoys.”

“I used to be a Lion’s Club member,” recalledGMZS treasurer Becky Dewitz, who on behalf of the society was thankful for the Lions’ help. She said that the donation will go toward the zoo’s flood recovery projects, and in particular the large cat exhibits. Although the zoo is holding its grand reopening celebration today, its felines will not be ready to return for another month or so.

In addition to its annual fundraising project, the Lions Club is focused on eyesight conservation services, providing assistance ranging from service dogs and subsidized glasses to facilitating cornea transplants via the Lions Eye Bank of North Dakota in Bismarck. Interestingly, the club also paid for the taxidermy of two of the Minot zoo’s lions after they had died; one is currently on display at its visitor center.