By: Melissa Toupin
Every year Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence decorates at tree. It's covered in ornaments, each labeled with a specific gift patrons can donate to their favorite animals for the holidays.
"It's really helpful for us because these are the types of
things that are very nice to have but couldn't be on our top list of
priorities," said Jan Mariani, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the zoo.
The "Giving" tree sits in the Giraffe and Elephant Pavilion. Zoo keepers have never had a problem, until this year when a thief pried open the wooden donation box and stole the money intended for gifts. Mariani estimates the robber got away with several hundred dollars.
"It's kind of shocking that somebody would do it," said Mariani.
The toys that would have been purchased with the money are meant to stimulate animals and encourage natural behaviors.
The community already stepping in to help. Just today an anonymous donor dropped off $200.
"Having somebody steal from you is a very bad feeling. Its not a good feeling at all. And this just really helps make it better," said Mariani.
The zoo is now stepping up security measures to make sure this doesn't happen again. A metal donation box will be secured to the handrail in the pavilion starting Monday.
"People are here, out of the goodness of their hearts, making these contributions because they love the animals and they want to help," said Mariani. "It just hurts."
The theft occurred between November 28th and December 4th. The zoo suggests that any patrons who wrote out checks to the Giving Tree during that time period should stop payment for that check.
The donation box will be in the pavilion until January 12th.