Jonathan Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund

Proceeds from the Jonathan Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund provide the opportunity for Zoo staff members to pursue conservation projects, education opportunities, research initiatives and other wildlife-focused efforts.

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

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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."

2017 Scholarship Award Recipients

Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Jonathan Memorial Gilmour Scholarship Awards! This year’s group of ten winners brings the total number of scholarships to 83 in the last decade.

Steingardgilmourwinner Britni Steingard – Zookeeper – will attend the 44th American Association of Zoo Keepers Conference in Washington D.C., where she will gain knowledge and then apply this to growing and strengthening the Zoo New England Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers. Steingard serves as the Chapter Liaison for the Zoo New England chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers.
Rutledgegilmourwinner Christine Rutledge – Zookeeper – will travel to Nashville, Tenn. to attend the Coraciiformes Husbandry Workshop, which covers topics of breeding programs, trainings, enrichment, and conservation efforts that are currently being done for specific bird species, including her favorite, the hornbills.

Lanandra Russell – Development Assistant – will use her scholarship to participate in the Fundraising Basics Course offered by the Massachusetts Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


Courtney Anna Hamm – Zookeeper – recently traveled to Namibia, Africa to attend an Earth Exhibitions course, where she is learning about ongoing research and conservation on a global and local scale. The course is focused on in-field research and the conservation of big cats.


Rebecca Schneyer – Zookeeper – will receive a scholarship to attend the Giraffe Care Workshop at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.


John Berkholtz – Senior Keeper – will purchase tracking equipment to support the Blanding’s Turtle Monitoring Project at Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Concord, Mass. This equipment could also benefit two new project sites, Borderland State Park in Sharon Mass. and Fowl Meadows in Milton, Canton and Dedham.


Andrea Lewicki – Administrative Assistant - will receive a scholarship to attend the AZA mid-year conference in Albuquerque, NM and present with Anne Knapp as part of the Safety Summit.


Sara Jablonski – Zookeeper – is currently in South Africa working with a professor and researcher from Boston University to study the obesity, growth patterns and genomes of vervet monkeys for the Behavior and Growth Pattern Research Project. The scholarship is supporting Jablonski’s participation in this project.


Kelly Miklavcic – Senior Keeper- attended the Animal Behavior Management Alliance Annual Conference held in April in Cincinnati, Ohio. Throughout the five-day workshop, Miklavic learned from animal care professionals from across the globe about advances and best practices in training and management as it relates both directly and indirectly to conservation efforts.

Knappgilmourwinner  Anne Knapp – Director Animal Resources – Two-time award winner - will receive a scholarship to travel to India to the Mysore Zoo as part of an exchange program to share information in her areas of expertise (Safety, internship programs, zookeeper training, and Lean/Continuous Improvement). She will also work to build a lasting relationship that will benefit both organizations in promoting conservation and education.