One of the most familiar faces among the volunteers at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is 98-year-old Esther Bondareff, who has been volunteering with the Zoo for more than two decades. Members of the media are invited to cover a Zoo celebration on June 11, 2014, at 12 p.m. when staff members and mascots (Zoo Crew) will celebrate her birthday with a special lunch, cake, and a rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song in the Zoo’s Tropics Café.
Bondareff turns ninety-nine years “young” on June 16, and said she plans to continue her involvement through the Volunteer/Docent program. She served as the Chairwoman of the Zoo’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 1994, and became qualified as a Docent after 10 years of volunteering. Bondareff has been volunteering with the Zoo for more than 20 years.
“The Zoo keeps me going,” said Bondareff. “I don’t plan to stop, because I enjoy it so much. Whatever I can do to help the Zoo, I plan to do.”
Bondareff has been sponsoring a monthly luncheon for Zoo staff members for several years, and the popular meals are known as “Esther Lunches.” Zoo guests are most likely to see Bondareff on Saturdays, welcoming them as they walk into the two daily wildlife presentations, the “Wings Over Water” bird show and the “Wild Things Show.”
“Esther is an inspiration for us all,” said Joe Landmichl, volunteer manager for the Zoo. “She is always dedicated to the volunteers, staff and our guests. She has seen the Zoo grow, and always has time to share her stories about the Zoo. It is my hopes that one day I, too, can be like Esther.”
For more information on the Zoo’s Volunteer/Docent program, visit this link: http://www.palmbeachzoo.org/volunteers-docents