Six-Year-Old Raised More Than $200K Making Bracelets to Save the Oakland Zoo

The girl from Castro Valley, California asked her mom to start a fundraiser on Facebook with the $5 she received from the Tooth Fairy.

Whether you're 6 or 60, there's nothing like a trip to the zoo. The experience can be as eye-opening and joyful as it is educational. A 6-year-old girl from Castro Valley, California named Andy Soulard knows this all too well, having been a member of the Oakland Zoo since she was a baby. But now the Bay Area zoo, which has been closed since mid-March due to the pandemic, is losing $2 million a month and may have to shut down permanently unless it is allowed to reopen as an "outdoor museum," officials said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Upon hearing that one of her favorite places might be struggling to survive, the 6-year-old was heartbroken. "The idea that this place that we visited so many times and we have been members there for years," said Kelly Soulard told ABC 7 News. "We have so many fond memories there. She was really upset at the fact that she might not be able to visit there again."

That's why she asked her mom Kelly if they could do something about it by starting a fundraiser on Facebook with $5 she recently earned from the Tooth Fairy.

Soulard also thought she might urge people to get onboard to save the zoo by making bracelets for anyone who donated more than $25. The idea was a hit, and in under a week, almost 4,000 people pitched in to contribute to Andy's fundraiser. She has now raised over $200K.

Additionally, over 1,000 people have donated more than $25, so she—along with the help of more than 20 of her friends and fellow zoo lovers—have gotten to work, cranking out bracelets.

The icing on the cake came in the form of an announcement from the zoo this week that they'll be reopening on July 29. On the zoo's site, they note, "Oakland Zoo is excited and eager to offer Bay Area families a safe place for outdoor recreation and education. In compliance with the Alameda County Public Health Department—to protect the health and safety of our guests, staff, and animals—we have implemented new safety protocols."

Two days ago, Soulard posted a video to her fundraiser page celebrating the news.

The family is encouraging Bay Area locals to not only contribute to their fundraiser but support the Zoo by buying, renewing, or gifting a membership. With hope, the Soulards' and their community's efforts will help keep the Oakland Zoo alive for zoo lovers of all ages.

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