Jonathan Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund

Saturday, May 7, 2016

This year's bike- and walk-a-thon begins and ends at Hollis’ historic Lawrence Barn, featuring multiple routes specially-designed for cyclists or walkers ranging from beginner to expert. Riders, volunteers, family and friends are invited to a festive post-event picnic.

Participants have the option of a 3-mile walk or a 10- mile, 25-mile or 50-mile bike ride.

Registration cost: $25

Proceeds support Zoo New England’s Jonathan Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides the opportunity for Zoo staff members to pursue conservation projects, education opportunities, research initiatives and other wildlife-focused efforts.

Race Information and Registration

Protecting Wildlife at Home and Abroad

Members of the Zoo New England community have used their scholarships to participate in a variety of local and international conservation initiatives including:

  • Reintroduction of endangered drill baboons back into the wild of Nigeria
  • Restoration of Atlantic puffin colonies off the coast of Maine
  • Assessment of the impact of the jaguar predation on marine turtle populations in Costa Rica
  • The use of radio transmitters to study population dynamics of endangered turtles in Massachusetts
  • Study of space and resource use by Grevy’s and plains zebras around people and livestock

In Memory of Jonathan Gilmour

GilmourIn Memory of Jonathan Gilmour

"My favorite part of the day comes near quitting time. When the sun is going down and I’m leading the giraffes down the long paths to where they go to sleep, it’s just me and them and it’s perfect."
- Jonathan Gilmour

For five years, Jonathan Gilmour worked as a zookeeper at Franklin Park Zoo where he cared for animals including giraffes, zebra, bongos and camels in the Hooves & Horns department. His love of animals was not only deeply rooted within him, it was also far-reaching.

Jonathan was in Scotland working on a masters program, entitled “Applied Animal Behavior and Animal Welfare,” when he died suddenly from an embolism that had formed in his legs and migrated to his lungs. Just prior to his passing, he was preparing for a trip to Greece to work on a dolphin project with Earthwatch.

In 2002 while he was a Franklin Park Zoo zookeeper, Jonathan was honored with the title of "Ultimate Zookeeper" by Microsoft Corp. He won the title through a national contest centered on Microsoft’s “Zoo Tycoon” game. The competition focused on zookeepers' abilities and conservation platforms, as well as their skill in building the ultimate zoo within the game’s frameworks.

To exemplify Jonathan’s passion and devotion to all creatures, here is a poem taken from one of his notebooks:

“I implore you, my fellow man
- To clasp this problem at hand
- We are Threatening this great planet
- And all those living upon it
- As we conquer our doubt equating
- We are erasing many things out
- Things which will not return, no matter how hard we yearn
- No matter how long we mourn - we will leave nothing but scorn
- What cause for the reason
- This betrayal, this treason
- For the mess we have made - and the soiled ground we have laid.
- We will look forward only in demise, for the mistakes we contrived.
- And when our friends are all gone
- Our path will become ever more lonely and long
- For who then will travel beside us
- Offer comfort, or provide us
- If not for merely a reflection of our own evolution
- These things of which I speak - These friends who seem so meek– They
- Are simply all God’s creations forming each side of the equation
- The formula that is earth - in each death and each birth
- It is the animals I say -
- A vital part of our stay
- The other half of God’s game
- And yet - we are nearly one in the same.
- We are all made of hair, and of flesh and of blood-
- We all have our needs, and our wants and can all learn to love
- We’re all living creatures, with many similar features-
- And with each brand new day, it becomes more easy to say -
- That with each closer look, we must rewrite the book -
- And correct each mistake of our historical take
- How could man made in heaven have such a wild, beastly bretheren?

- It was clear from the start, that we stood well apart-
- God formed man in his likeness
- We alone were the righteous.
- Yet - our stand has now changed - our perceptions rearranged
- It is our science, our knowledge, our intellect that has brought us in check -
- Man may have proved beyond a doubt, how all life came about -
- And if there is truly a God, staring straight down -
- Judging each and every creature, - whether sky, sea or ground -
- And if it is also God’s will to create from the heavens above us, then there is
- Still no denying
- That God made all creatures from the same earthly substance."

2015 Scholarship Award Recipients

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Jonathan Memorial Gilmour Scholarship Awards! This year’s group of 12 winners, listed below, brings the total number of scholarships to 64 in nine years.

Thomas Bedetti – TF Facilities Worker - will receive a scholarship to support his welding coursework at the Wentworth Institute of Technology Continuing Education Program. 

Kristin Cibotti – Senior Zookeeper - will receive a scholarship to attend the 25th Annual Felid Taxon Advisory Group Conference hosted by the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Rachel Davison – Zookeeper - will receive a scholarship to support her participation as an Agroforestry and Environmental Development volunteer in Ecuador. In an effort to reduce the need for farmers to degrade the Amazon Rainforest, this research will help to develop farming practices that grow culturally, environmentally and economically valuable species.  

Rory Dwyer – Senior Zookeeper - will receive a scholarship to attend the 25th Annual Felid Taxon Advisory Group Conference hosted by the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Alexandra Fioretti – Volunteer Coordinator - will receive a scholarship to attend and present a session at the American Alliance of Museum’s Annual International Museum Expo in Atlanta Georgia.  

Anne Knapp – Director of Animal Resources - will receive a scholarship to support her attendance at the AZA Mid-Year National Conference and participation in the AZA Safety Committee Meeting. 

Jennifer Maltese – Education Program Manager – will receive a scholarship to support her dissertation research evaluating the effectiveness of nest-conservation practices undertaken by local rehabilitation centers. This project will focus on harvesting eggs from roadkill diamondback terrapins in Cape Cod and placing them in man-made nests within the Mass Audubon’s protected areas in Wellfleet Bay.  In an effort to ensure the highest number of successful hatchlings, data from this project will be used to establish protocols for the removal and transport of extracted eggs, as well as the construction of the nests.

Rachel Markowitz – Zookeeper - will receive a scholarship to attend the 25th Annual Felid Taxon Advisory Group Conference hosted by the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Erin O’Brien – Senior Keeper - will receive a scholarship to attend the Giraffe Care Workshop at the Cheyanne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Caitlin Reardon – Senior Education Specialist - will receive a scholarship to support her participation in a jaguar study in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica. Data collected from this project will be used in the development and management of the long-term wildlife conservation for the jaguar.

Matthew Stierhof – Senior Zookeeper - will receive a scholarship to attend the 2015 Prosimian Taxon Advisory Group Meeting and Workshop at the Lemur Conservation Foundation.

Brooke Wardrop – Director of Marketing and Communications - will receive a scholarship to attend the AZA Annual Conference being held in Salt Lake City, Utah.