Donor Stories



Kathleen Ihnken


“I never tire of talking to new guests and seeing that spark in them as they create connections with animals and each other. There is a magic that happens on our zoo grounds that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the city.”

Like many Pacific Northwest natives, Kathleen is a huge lover of animals, travel and the outdoors. She grew up in the Portland area, but would often visit her relatives in Seattle, frequenting Woodland Park Zoo together. In fact, Kathleen and her family loved to travel, and every time they visited a new city, they would also visit the city’s zoo. They each had their favorite animal: Dad’s were snow leopards, Mom’s were hippos, and hers were any and all big cats. Kathleen is still a huge cat fan and has two of her own, Isis and Sandy.

Kathleen moved to the Seattle area in the ‘80s and started working for the state government. To meet people in the area, she began volunteering for various organizations and discovered she immensely enjoyed meeting new people and talking with the public. Through her volunteer work, Kathleen got the chance to take a trip of a lifetime—doing research on spinner dolphins on Midway Island. While there, another volunteer suggested Kathleen should volunteer at her local zoo since she loved animals and people so much. The suggestion stuck and upon her return home, she began volunteering at Woodland Park Zoo in February 2000.

As a Woodland Park Zoo volunteer, Kathleen enjoyed working on many different projects. These projects ranged from helping animal keepers care for our animals to helping with the zoo’s biggest fundraising party of the year—Jungle Party—where she is still a central part of the volunteer team today! Her favorite volunteer roles involve talking with guests where she can learn from their personal experiences while teaching them about the animals at the zoo.

While Kathleen has countless memories from her volunteer career, a standout is the feline discovery station that she and other docents helped create. The stations allow volunteers to mobilize at various locations throughout the zoo and use biofacts, props, and other informational materials to create engaging and educational experiences for guests of all ages.

Kathleen loved being a part of the zoo experience so much that, in 2014, she made a career change and was hired for a position in Guest Services, where she enjoyed interacting with guests every day. After a couple months in Guest Services, Kathleen transitioned into one of two positions that cover duties at CWC Reception. In 2017, she transferred to our Facilities Department where she is now a champion for the guest experience.

Kathleen and our dedicated Facilities Department have always worked to maintain a safe and welcoming experience for families and community members to connect with animals and nature. Throughout this pandemic, they have worked even harder to make sure all guests and staff remain safe and healthy while on zoo grounds.

Over the last 21 years, Kathleen has spent more than 4,500 hours giving back to the zoo as a volunteer, and more than 15,500 hours as a zoo employee. When asked what keeps her motivated to stay so involved, she says, “I never tire of talking to new guests and seeing that spark in them as they create connections with animals and each other. There is a magic that happens on our zoo grounds that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the city.” Kathleen hopes to never see this magic dim. In fact, she strives to make the zoo a place where everyone, regardless of background, ability or age, can have that experience. This inspiration from our guests has led Kathleen to make Woodland Park Zoo a part of her long-term estate planning.

Thinking back on her experiences first as a volunteer and then as an employee, Kathleen appreciated how welcome she felt with every new adventure. She says the zoo is filled with “the most friendly, helpful and caring people.” We think Kathleen is one of those people, and not only that, she has fortified the reality that our zoo will thrive long into the future, through strengthening relationships with our community and her meaningful estate gift. We are deeply grateful for her and her lasting legacy on the zoo as a place where everyone can find joy, respite, inspiration and connectedness.


Lauren Wyckoff


“Our future depends on people my age, and younger, to start investing in conservation efforts. Through supporting the zoo, you help inspire people to take action for wildlife and give [those people] the tools they need to make conscious decisions.”

When a prominent part of your childhood involves raising cattle, growing barley and dry-land watermelons on your family ranch, and dissecting owl pellets for fun, you are bound to develop a deep appreciation for wildlife and nature. Lauren Wyckoff grew up in the Central Coast area of California, but moved to Seattle just before she entered the first grade. After this move to Seattle, the Wyckoff family began frequenting Woodland Park Zoo to see the renowned naturalistic habitats.

Both of Lauren’s parents have backgrounds in biology, so caring for wildlife and their habitats has always been part of being in the Wyckoff family. Lauren’s mother, Susie Wyckoff, became a member of Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors in 2010, bringing her knowledge of wildlife biology and conservation. At this time, Lauren was attending college, first at the University of San Diego and then at Gonzaga University where she earned her degree in broadcasting. After graduation, she worked in television in Los Angeles. Throughout this time, Lauren’s mother went on to serve three terms as a key Woodland Park Zoo board member. Almost every conversation she had with her mother included stories of new animals coming to the zoo, newborn zoo babies, and new conservation projects happening locally and around the world.

While living in Los Angeles, Lauren began to feel that she wasn’t using her voice enough to help create positive change for wildlife and the climate. On her mother’s suggestion, Lauren attended a presentation on red panda conservation, of which Woodland Park Zoo was a part. Lauren remembers this as the moment she realized that “zoos have the power to shine a light on the issues endangered species face while building support for on-the-ground conservation work around the world.” Shortly after attending this presentation in 2017, Lauren decided to move back to Seattle, and naturally became her mother’s date to many zoo events. These events excited and motivated her; not only were they fun and unique, but she was deeply moved by being up-close with ambassador animals and learning from their animal keepers.

Lauren loved these zoo experiences so much that she decided to attend an event on her own, bringing some of her closest friends. The event was the Rhinos and Rosé soirée in 2018, which was a celebration for the zoo’s new rhinos, Taj and Glenn, the first rhinos to ever live at Woodland Park Zoo in its 120-year history. This event was hosted by the zoo’s young philanthropist network, Network for Nature, which connects young donors who love the zoo and are passionate about advocating for their communities and the planet. Lauren learned that this group championed the Saving Species Impact Fund, which is dedicated to supporting the zoo’s Wildlife Survival Program and Conservation Partners that help conserve wildlife, preserve fragile habitats, and increase public awareness for wildlife and environmental issues.

After the Rhinos and Rosé soirée, Lauren joined Network for Nature to help plan future events and became a member of the Leadership Council in 2019. She feels strongly that being up-close with animals, their keepers, and conservation scientists creates life-changing experiences that move people to take action for wildlife and the climate. When asked what motivates her to continue to be involved with Network for Nature, Lauren says, “Our future depends on people my age, and younger, to start investing in conservation efforts. Through supporting the zoo, you help inspire people to take action for wildlife and give [those people] the tools they need to make conscious decisions.”

To help Network for Nature reach new people and strengthen its base, the Leadership Council led the charge on restructuring the program and eliminated the membership fee to make it more accessible and inclusive. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Network for Nature additionally had to pivot its programming and outreach to a virtual format. Although Lauren misses the energy created at in-person events, she is proud of the work she and her fellow council members did to broaden the support for Network for Nature. Thank you, Lauren, for you and your fellow Leadership Councilmembers’ dedication, and we hope to continue our work with you for many years to come!


Matt & Amanda Rosauer


“Woodland Park Zoo is a great organization with great people doing great things. It has local impact and global reach, saving wildlife and supporting our community.”

To say Matt and Amanda Rosauer are deeply connected with their community is an understatement. They are invested in making the Greater Seattle area a better place. As a principal at the Pine Street Group L.L.C., Matt oversees complex urban development projects that enhance the vitality of Seattle. To him, the key pillars of a vibrant city are its outdoor spaces and cultural institutions. To that point, Matt says that “Woodland Park Zoo provides the community with close encounters with the animals and exposure to its sustainability message, and has the power to change the way people interact with the natural world.” Matt has brought his passion for building a better Seattle along with his expertise to Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors since 2014, where he’s served in a variety of positions, including as Chair of the Board from 2019 – 2020.

Matt and Amanda first got involved with Woodland Park Zoo when they attended Jungle Party in 2008, and what a first impression it was! Amanda explains, “It was a party like no other in Seattle: great food and energy, meeting ambassador animals up close with their keepers and knowing you are supporting an organization that gives so much back to the community.” After their first Jungle Party, they started to visit the zoo often with their three kids, meeting friends and unwinding on the 92-acre grounds. And, of course, they returned to Jungle Party every year!

The engaging experiences they had at the zoo initially drew them in. But they stayed and deepened their involvement as they were drawn to the zoo team and the energy they had for helping animals and making the world a better place. Through up-close animal encounters, Matt and Amanda got a glimpse into the dedication and passion of the animal keepers and staff around the zoo. When asked what he would say to someone interested in supporting the zoo, Matt explains, “Woodland Park Zoo is a great organization with great people doing great things. It has local impact and global reach, saving wildlife and supporting our community.”

When Matt first became Chair of the Board in late 2019, there was momentum around the idea of creating a social movement for wildlife conservation. But shortly into his tenure, the COVID-19 pandemic created one of the most difficult periods in the zoo’s 120-year history. To Matt and Amanda, the zoo’s unique quality is the environment for community members to connect with the natural world. The need for the zoo to close its gates for four months, hold the Jungle Party virtually, and cancel summer camps was a tough blow to the morale of the zoo team and fellow board members. But with Matt’s leadership, the zoo was able to reopen with safety precautions in place just prior to Jungle Party and continued providing financial support to our conservation partners in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Although at a reduced guest capacity, the zoo once again became a green oasis of wonder and inspiration to our community.

While he is keen to see the zoo resume its trajectory before the COVID-19 pandemic and further the goals of its transformative strategic plan, he is proud to have been part of the response efforts. Matt explains, “Our zoo continues to innovate, developing new ways to stay connected with our community and bolstering the movement towards sustainability. I could not be prouder to have a role with this amazing institution building a better planet for humans and wildlife.” He credits the zoo’s COVID-19 response to the passion and diligence of zoo staff and the community of supporters who keep the zoo moving forward. But we know the zoo has been fortunate to have Matt and Amanda at the helm during such a challenging time. Thank you, Matt and Amanda, for your selfless dedication to your zoo and your community!


Rosemarie Havranek


“Scientists are not the only ones responsible for conserving species; we need everyone in our community to fight to save the animals we love and hold dear to our hearts.”

Rosemarie believes that community awareness and collective action are fundamental to saving the world’s most vulnerable species. She has served on several charitable committees and boards in the Seattle area and beyond, and currently is a member of Woodland Park Zoo’s Board of Directors. Rosemarie is also a proud Princeton Tiger. She and her husband, Nathan Myhrvold, and their sons Cameron and Conor, are all Princeton alumni. This family has a special connection to tigers, and for more reasons than just their alma mater.

The Bronx, where Rosemarie was born and raised, is also home to one of the oldest and largest zoos in the United States, of which the tiger is a main attraction. The zoos of Rosemarie’s childhood in the 1960s were a lot different than modern ones. Rosemarie notes, “Everything was cement and the animals were for marveling at; there wasn’t the educational element that moved people to take conservation action like we see today.”

After meeting her husband Nathan as graduate students at Princeton, and living abroad in Tokyo and then the Bay Area for a few years, the couple settled in the Seattle area. Rosemarie was a member of Woodland Park Zoo’s Safari Club Advisory Board in the 1990s. Their family visited the zoo several times a month so their sons could learn about animals all over the world at a young age. During this time, Conor became particularly close with the late Dana Payne, a Woodland Park Zoo reptile curator, and they bonded over their love for animals and chess. Having a close relationship with Dana was life-changing for the whole family, as he showed them how impactful learning and understanding are to protecting nature.

The family has since been on numerous trips around the world supporting wildlife conservation and seeing it in action firsthand, including wild dogs in Africa and tigers on several occasions at various national parks in India. Through all of Rosemarie’s experiences, she has come to realize the power of awareness and collective action. She emphasizes, “Scientists are not the only ones responsible for conserving species. We need everyone in our community to fight to save the animals we love and hold dear to our hearts.” Rosemarie sees zoos today creating empathy and awareness for conservation issues animals face, by putting a face to a species name for our next generation.

While Rosemarie’s work with Woodland Park Zoo as a Board member is just getting started, she has already been a prominent force. In 2020, she and her family were instrumental in starting our tiger family here at the zoo. This includes bringing a new female tiger named Azul, who came from the Bronx Zoo! Rosemarie explains, “Azul and I are kindred spirits from the Bronx, and the opportunity for tiger cubs inspires hope for conserving this beautiful species.” Azul and our male tiger Bumi are paired under the Malayan Tiger Species Survival Plan, which is a cooperative, conservation breeding program across zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of the species. Thank you, Rosemarie and family, for your dedication to saving animals and wild places. We are so grateful for the many ways you make the world a better place.


Institutional Donors


”Our vision is to build a world where all people have an opportunity to learn, thrive and achieve their dreams.”

Safeco Insurance Fund and Liberty Mutual Foundation

Like many iconic Seattle companies, Safeco Insurance was born out of a bold vision to pioneer a new approach to doing business. Initially known as the General Insurance Company of America in 1923, it wasn’t until 40 years later that the company transformed into Safeco Insurance, expanding and diversifying the services they offered. Around the same time, Safeco Insurance started giving back to the community through charitable giving, with gifts made to Woodland Park Zoo dating back as early as 1985!

In 2008, Safeco Insurance was acquired by Liberty Mutual, a Boston-based insurance company with its own history of community involvement. Established in 2003, the Liberty Mutual Foundation’s common purpose is to invest the expertise, leadership, and the financial strength of the company and its employees to improve the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors. As our partner at the Foundation explains, “Our vision is to build a world where all people have an opportunity to learn, thrive and achieve their dreams.” Today, the Safeco Insurance Fund, a fund of the Liberty Mutual Foundation, has three areas of emphasis that guide their grant-making in the greater Seattle area: security for people experiencing homelessness, educational opportunities for children and youth living in poverty, and most recently, providing accessibility for individuals of all abilities. This last focus came from the recognition that to truly support all people in the community requires paying special attention to people who may not traditionally have had equal access to community support systems.

Since the 1980s, Safeco Insurance has been an influential partner of Woodland Park Zoo in providing capacity for capital improvements and youth educational programs. This includes their critical support for the construction of the zoo’s early learning facility in 1998, Discovery Village, and now, as part of the Liberty Mutual Foundation, their continued support of innovative learning programming, such as our ZooCrew and Wild Wise programs in the 2010s. In late 2019, Safeco Insurance Fund awarded the zoo with a one-year accessibility grant for our nature-based play inclusion initiative, including support for American Sign Language interpreters at Zoomazium and youth camp programs, and sensory kits at Zoomazium and Guest Services.

At the start of the global pandemic, Liberty Mutual Foundation, including the Safeco Insurance Fund, reached out to Woodland Park Zoo (and all of its grantees) to let us know that the restrictions on the recent grant had been loosened in recognition of Covid-19’s disruptive impact on our programming and operations. Given the zoo’s closure to the public for several months during the first half of 2020, flexible funding was crucially important in enabling the zoo to meet immediate operational needs, as well as to develop resourceful ways to bring the zoo virtually to our audiences through weekly interactions with our ambassador animals and educational activities for students. We applaud the extraordinary generosity of the Liberty Mutual Foundation and Safeco Insurance Fund in loosening restrictions on funding and helping the zoo to weather the financial uncertainties while remaining focused on our mission in new and creative ways.

Most recently, Safeco Insurance Fund has continued their support in deepening accessibility and inclusion at Woodland Park Zoo with a grant for the zoo’s new Universal Design for Learning (UDL) initiative. UDL is a framework for how to develop lessons and assessments that use a variety of teaching methods to give all people, regardless of ability, equal opportunities to engage with the zoo. With the support from Safeco Insurance Fund, the zoo will utilize a UDL lens to improve existing programming and events that intentionally include people of differing abilities. Although implementing a framework like UDL is no small task for an organization, Safeco Insurance Fund believes it is worthwhile to do so and fundamental to achieving the organization’s vision.

Our partners at Safeco Insurance Fund have expressed that they are grateful to play a role in the work they fund that makes their communities a better place. In turn, Woodland Park Zoo is proud to be a grantee and we thank Safeco and Liberty Mutual for the generous support provided to the zoo for so many years. We look forward to continuing to further the goals of the Safeco Insurance Fund by providing conservation and educational programming that supports all people in achieving their dreams and participating in their community to the fullest extent.

Our Mission

Woodland Park Zoo saves wildlife and inspires everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.

Land Acknowledgment

Woodland Park Zoo recognizes that these are the lands of the Tribal signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliott. We acknowledge their stewardship of this place continues to this day and that it is our responsibility to join them to restore the relationship with the living world around us.

Humane Certification
Seattle Parks & Recreation
Association of Zoos & Aquariums

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