"I remember packing the kids into the car, heading to the Zoo on a warm June night, bringing a picnic lunch and pulling the kids around in a little wagon at the Zoological Society picnic." That was more than 40 years ago. Yet Linda Grunau still speaks of it fondly. It's family memories like this that have made her an active supporter of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (ZSM) for more than three decades and a ZSM member for 40-plus years. It's why she became a Simba member years ago by designating a donation in her will to the ZSM. "It was easy," she says. "I just had to state an amount I wanted to leave in my will when I had it drawn up." Grunau was a longtime member of the ZSM's Board of Directors and is a past chair of the ZSM Associate Board. Grunau helped start the popular Snooze at the Zoo fundraiser and says she inspired the creation of Zoo Ball by putting on an earlier fundraiser in the Zoo's Flamingo Café that was lots of fun.
"I wanted to be sure that families in the future have the same opportunity to be part of the Zoo and Zoo family that I had. I wanted to make sure that their children could participate in Zoological Society educational programs and other programs at the Zoo. Too often people think about leaving gifts only to social-services agencies or arts groups. I think part of the quality of life in Milwaukee is the diversity of opportunities that we have. And, of course, one of the best opportunities for families is the Zoo. It's an economical way for families to explore the environment and our relationship with animals, and to be outside together in a natural setting. So it's really important to leave money to the Zoological Society."
Simba means lion, and the Simba Circle's logo is a lion. Linda Grunau relates to the symbol "because I'm a Leo." Her favorite animals are lions, and she's seen them on safari in Africa as well as at the Zoo. "I adopted the lion cubs [in a Zoological Society animal sponsorship] for my grandson, because he's also a Leo. He was very excited, too." Grunau remembers her own grandmother bringing her to the Zoo when it was in Washington Park. "I want to make sure the next generation can continue to see and be involved in this beautiful place."