Virtual Donate Life Day at the Zoo brings zoo to you

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It’s not often that you can get a behind-the-scenes look at a zoo without leaving the comfort of your home, but that’s exactly what you can do this weekend.

Gift of Life Michigan’s annual Donate Life Day at the Zoo has moved to the virtual realm this year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that has forced cancellation and postponement of events across the country.

Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, the event will bring the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids into your living room, home office or smart phone and provide a glimpse of zoo life, in addition to highlighting the organ and tissue donation services in the west side of the state, honoring the stories of donor families and recipients alike and celebrating the legacy of donor heroes.

The event will allow participants the opportunity to take a virtual safari, getting a glimpse behind the scenes at the zoo in a half-hour tour guided by zoo educators. It will also feature a virtual Celebration of Life Trail that honors past donors and their families and recipients, a Community Cove, which features information about resources available to the donation and transplant community in west Michigan and a Wildlife Challenge quiz in which you can win gift packages to the John Ball Zoo itself. The program will also feature interviews from organ recipients and donor families. It is designed to provide education about the benefits of organ and tissue donation and to encourage those who are not registered to sign up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

Traditionally a half-day event at the zoo and geared toward residents of western Michigan, the Virtual Donate Life Day at the Zoo is open to anyone, regardless of where they live, which opens it to more people. That proved to be the case during the annual Detroit Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP) LIFE Walk/Run earlier this year – expanded from a one-day event to a week-long series of activities, it attracted more than 2,100 people from 13 states and three different countries.

The Virtual Donate Life Day at the Zoo is sponsored by Mutual of America, in partnership with the Mercy Health Kidney Transplant Center and Spectrum Health as well as Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Program.

You can register for the online event here.

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