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A one in a thousand encounter

Today I want to share a story with you. This happened a little while ago, but it’s a story that will stick with me probably forever because of the impact it had on me. I was walking back to the World of Wild Theater from lunch one day when I heard a woman shout my name. I turned around to see her, another woman and their kids fast approaching me. I didn’t recognize them, and I had not done a presentation that day, so I did not expect anyone to know who I was. To be honest, the first thought that crossed my mind was “Oh no, what did I do?” I smiled and just asked, “Yes?” They both immediately smiled and said they had seen one of my World of Wild Theater presentations from a year ago. They stated that the talk I gave with the “green bird” about plastic bags really sank in with them, and that they have completely ditched plastic bags. One of the women proudly stated that she still had the same box of plastic bags that she had that day over a year ago.

I was awestruck. I didn’t know what to say. I said something along the lines of “Oh, that’s so great! Keep it up and thanks for letting me know. You all have a wonderful day.” Those words were nothing to what I was feeling. The sense of accomplishment and immediate pride in what I do on a daily basis overwhelmed me. This was a one and a thousand chance encounter, and it meant the world to me.

However, the true meaning of this story isn’t about me. It’s about everyone. In this specific instance, any of Zoo Atlanta’s wonderful animal care professionals or education team members could have said something about the issues of plastic that stuck with someone. We don’t always know when something makes a lasting impact like that. But this story is proof that it does.

But again, it’s not just about me or Zoo Atlanta; it’s about everyone. Anyone can say anything that can make a lasting impact on another individual. So, it’s everyone’s responsibility to educate and spread messages of conservation to protect everyone’s planet. What you do matters. It may not always seem like it, but your decisions, what you say, how you act, everything affects everyone and everything else. Make the most of that power and leave your impact in a good way.

And for those of you wondering who the true star of this story, the “green bird,” is, it’s our very own Reko, the yellow-naped Amazon parrot.
Justin E.
Lead Keeper, Ambassador Animals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl