Nashville Zoo donates $30,000 to Australian wildfire relief efforts

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 23:06:20-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — With so much devastation in Australia, the Nashville Zoo announced they'll be donating $30,000 to Australian wildfire relief efforts.

When you see the images, it's impossible not to feel bad for the helpless animals caught in the middle of some of the worst wildfires Australia has ever seen.

“It’s really an unprecedented event, you know, and in my life I’ve never seen such devastation," Rick Schwartz, president and CEO of the Nashville Zoo said.

Schwartz and the rest of the staff at the Nashville Zoo have a connection to these horrible events. They have kangaroos at the zoo that delight visitors every day, and they know that these kangaroos and other animals are losing their lives and their habitats down in Australia.

“We sort of felt a moral obligation that we need to help. We have some Australian animals, but it’s certainly not our focus, but our focus is on conservation, and that’s really where we felt the need to be," Schwartz explained.

The Nashville Zoo offered to send staff to go down to Australia to help save the animals, but were told that what was really needed was donations.

“There’s a lot of veterinary work that needs to be done. The animals are being burned, there’s treatment that needs to be done, there’s food that needs to be provided," Schwartz said.

To assist with all of this, the Nashville Zoo announced they'd be donating $30,000 to provide support to Australian wildfire relief efforts, and they'll also be collecting donations from visitors throughout 2020 through their Round Up Program in hopes to raise another $30,000 or more to donate, because they know that while the animals need help now, it will take years to get any sense of normalcy back.

“For that forest to come back, for those nutrients to come back, it takes years," Schwartz said. "It will require planting trees, but it’s going to require time and certainly if they have another drought, that’s not going to help anything. So climate change becomes a big factor in all of that, and everybody needs to wake up on that.”

If you can't make it to the zoo to donate, you can also donate to numerous efforts online.