Last Friday evening we attended a special evening reception for the opening of the Thelma Vetter Red Panda Experience at the Charles Paddock Zoo. The impressive new home for the zoo’s red panda population was made possible through a very generous bequest made by the estate of longtime Atascadero resident, Thelma Vetter.
Thelma and her husband, William Vetter, moved to Atascadero in 1946 and had the insight to purchase numerous commercial properties in town. William passed away in 1993. Thelma was very active in the Atascadero Historical Society and the Friends of the Atascadero Library, among other local organizations and often gave generously to various charities. Thelma passed away in 2009 at the age of 91. Thelma Vetter was a kind and caring person who loved animals and was very concerned for their welfare. She left this significant bequest specifically for zoo improvements. Glen R. Lewis, trustee of the Thelma Vetter Estate, said that Thelma was a very private person and didn’t seek recognition, but he felt that in the case of this exhibit she should be publically acknowledged for her overwhelming generosity.
The rain chose to hold off until the very end of the reception so we were able to enjoy everything that Terrie Banish, Deputy City Manager/Outreach, Promotions, Events City of Atascadero, and her team had organized for the reception. Chef Charlie prepared a beautiful and tasty variety of hors d’oeuvres and guests were treated to wine, craft beer and hard cider from Eberle Winery, Baileyana Winery, Vintage Cowboy Winery, Bristols Cider House and Tent City Brewing. Other businesses who donated food or time and musical talent were The Plate, Medina Light Show Designs, and Martin Paris.
Red pandas are a small mammal native to the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and are not related to the well-known giant panda. Since 2009, the Zoo has had two adult red pandas (male and female), who have raised two cubs during their time at the zoo. It was exciting to see them in a setting reflective of their natural habitat. They are a beautiful little animal, with adorable faces. Their fur coloring and markings are truly outstanding.
The new exhibit is the first from the ground-up, newly–built exhibit to be constructed at the zoo in nearly four decades; it is a thoroughly modern exhibit with a “green” design and is a state-of-the-art, interactive display. It was built with the idea of easily connecting future exhibits by overhead walkways and ramps. If you have been to the zoo, the exhibit is located in the grassy area just north of the tiger exhibit and will be part of the zoo’s Biodiversity Hotspot theme. According to Charles Paddock Zoo Director Alan Baker each of the Biodiversity Hotspot exhibits will be designed to be an immersive and interactive journey with both passive and dynamic features to educate visitors about the culture, plant life, extinction or other threats to each animal.
Friends of the Charles Paddock Zoo were there to help guests learn more about the Red Pandas, ways to adopt a panda or other animals who make their homes at the zoo, or make a monetary donation. When you adopt a red panda it does not go home with you, by-the-way!
To learn more about how to “Friend an Animal” visit [email protected]
Kudos, congratulations, bravo, bouquets, and thank you, to our outstanding Atascadero Community Band, for the wonderful concert last Sunday, at ABC Church. Donations from the concert will benefit the 2019 Coats for Kids distributions in Paso Robles and Atascadero in December. The distributions provide warm coats and jackets for children and adults in need, living here in the North County.
More on the concert next week. Enjoy the rain and the remaining daffodils!