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We Love our Volunteers

Clara Madge Thane

Clara Madge Thane

This year marks the 40th anniversary of National Volunteer Week and is also the 40th year that two dedicated ladies by the names of Madge Van Buskirk and Clara Dantic have volunteered at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  Volunteers are an essential part of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden team and these two ladies demonstrate the enduring importance of recognizing our volunteers for their vital contributions.

Madge with gorilla baby 70's

Madge with gorilla baby 70’s

Madge and Clara were fundamental in establishing the Zoo Volunteer Observer (ZVO’s) program that is still in existence at the Zoo today.  They coordinate a team of 50 individuals to conduct birth and behavioral watches as needed for animals in our collection. They have been busy lately scheduling ZVO’s for the giraffe birth watch and polar bear reproductive behavior watch.  The inception of this program began in 1974 to help ensure the safety of gorilla moms and babies.  The fruits of their labor can be seen today in the many offspring that have been successfully born at our Zoo- including a bonobo named ‘Clara’ who still resides at our Zoo and a gorilla named ‘Madge’ who now is living at the Dallas Zoo.

If you don’t find Madge and Clara at the Zoo, you will be sure to find at the ball park- they attend every home game for the Cincinnati Reds!

To all our Zoo volunteers, a big THANK YOU for everything you do to help make us successful!


1 Roselyn Schloss { 04.10.14 at 4:56 pm }

Thanks for a great article on two very special people!

2 Shirley Warden { 04.11.14 at 10:03 am }

I have enjoyed talking with these wonderful volunteers for 15 years. They set the bar high. They encourage people. They are the greatest. Shirley Warden

3 Anni Marchioni { 04.21.14 at 5:15 pm }

Thanks for writing this about two of our best!

4 Robbin Wilson { 12.08.14 at 10:20 pm }

Wow, I remember both of these awesome ladies. Miss Vanbuskirk (as I called her) was my 1st or 2nd grade teacher at North Norwood school .
And Clara was my and my sister’s private piano teacher while we were in grade school. My sister plays very well. Thanks to both of you.

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