Volunteer Vista: Bonnie’s Garden

By Anna Becker

Garden Party: (left to right) Karla Flores, Helena Echenique, Corey Garza, Jessica Trivella, Sophie Johnson, Bella DiFore, Imanelijah Zeinali, and Lauren Fung. Photo by Anna Becker

Did you know that chimpanzees are fond of snacking on nasturtiums? Or that wild felines large and small enjoy a snort of catnip now and again? Bonnie’s Garden, also known as the enrichment garden, produces a variety of special items that the Los Angeles Zoo animal care staff use to supplement the diets our residents receive. The garden’s namesake, Enrichment Volunteer Bonnie Jue, passed away in 2010. She was instrumental in the cultivation and improvement of the garden, and her enthusiasm for it was contagious. Docent Chair Paulette Heath and other volunteers have invested a lot of time in the last few years to bring the garden to its full potential. Student volunteers are helping to keep Bonnie’s legacy alive and have been maintaining the garden—weeding, mulching, planting, and watering. Since most of the plants grown there are specifically for animals at the Zoo, it’s a nice way to give back.

Gardening was close to Bonnie Jue’s heart. Photo by Jamie Pham

“The garden is a great way to connect student volunteers to both nature and our animals here at the Zoo.”

“I was so happy to see the student volunteers making the effort to come in and help in the garden,” comments Heath. “It’s a great way to connect them to both nature and our animals here at the Zoo. I think it’s important that they understand that their gardening really can make a difference in the everyday life of so many of our animals. They will also learn that weeds are always there!”