NEWTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — There are many donors to thank for the new lion exhibit at Binder Park Zoo near Battle Creek. One of them is a 13-year-old Kalamazoo girl.
“I told my mom that I wanted to raise money for the zoo,” Yasmin Pirbhai said. “I told her I want to raise $5,000.”
Yasmin didn’t just meet her goal — she demolished it. Her mom matched the $5,000 and her mom’s employer matched that, bringing the total to $15,000 for the lions.
But Yasmin didn’t stop there. She decided to climb a mountain to raise more money. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest, when she was 11, raising another $15,000 for the exhibit.
Binder Park Zoo was in the middle of a capital campaign to bring lions and other creatures to the zoo. But it was the lions that got Yasmin’s attention.
“I am one of the fortunate people who have been to Tanzania and seen lions in the wild,” Yasmin explained. “And I thought it would be amazing for other kids, other people, who are less fortunate to be able to come and see them in the zoo.”
Yasmin said she wants to either be a pediatrician or a veterinarian when she grows up.
“It’s come so far, and it is so cool seeing it come to life,” she said. “I mean, especially after all the work, so cool.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the lion exhibit was held Monday and it officially opens to the public Tuesday. The exhibit already includes two female lions and a male will join them next week, Binder Park CEO and president Diane Thompson said.