Lindsay Wildlife Experience Receives Unprecedented Estate Gift
August 21, 2015
WALNUT CREEK—Lindsay Wildlife Experience has received a $2.6 million gift from the late Stephen S. Ball—the largest single gift ever made to the 60-year-old wildlife rehabilitation institution.
Mr. Ball grew up in Alamo, lived in St. Helena, and worked in his family’s general engineering business, Gordon N. Ball, Inc. Stephen Ball, who died in April 2014, loved nature and animals. According to his obituary, Ball “believed one should respect nature by not changing anything.”
“This gift came as a total surprise and we are thrilled,” said Lindsay Executive Director Norma Bishop. “Mr. Ball apparently came to Lindsay as a child, and it was an experience here with wildlife that touched him so profoundly that he remembered Lindsay and left us this amazing gift—we only wish we could have thanked him in person,” Bishop said.
“This is a perfect example of what Lindsay does—we inspire people to connect with wildlife and thus change their lives and the lives of the creatures with whom we share our natural world,” said Marilyn Fowler, president of Lindsay’s Board of Directors.
The Lindsay board has not yet decided how the money will be specifically used. The board will soon embark on a strategic planning process to develop more detailed plans for this gift and others that may be received in the future.
Lindsay Wildlife Experience operates the oldest wildlife rehabilitation center in America and treats more than 5,500 patients a year. To honor Ball’s memory, it is likely that Lindsay will upgrade wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facilities, including the hospital’s treatment rooms and animal housing. These upgrades are core to its mission and will not only help patients brought in by the public but also Lindsay’s animal ambassadors. Other uses of the money could include new aviaries and outdoor improvements to animal exercise areas.
The board may also choose to put some portion of large donations, such as the Ball gift, into Lindsay’s growing endowment to help sustain and advance Lindsay in the years to come. Bishop cautions that with uncertainty in the markets and interest rates generating such low returns, even a large gift like Ball’s would likely contribute very little to Lindsay’s annual operating expenses over the short term.
“We always depend on donors to reach our annual fund goal each year,” she added. Moreover, wildlife patients admitted to the hospital cannot wait on annual dividends or gains on investments; they require immediate care which is funded by contributions to Lindsay’s fundraising appeals.
Mr. Ball’s gift will undoubtedly support the continuing transformation and growth at Lindsay. This year this premier SF Bay Area premier wildlife institution changed its name from Lindsay Wildlife Museum to Lindsay Wildlife Experience. With a new brand and identity, there is a greater focus on enhancing facilities and putting animals first. The gift from Ball is one reason why Bishop, who announced a few weeks ago her plans to leave Lindsay in December, feels comfortable leaving at year’s end.
“I’m confident that Lindsay’s next leader will use our growing resources to do great things,” she said.
“Donors can take heart that Lindsay’s reputation is solid. This gift is testimony to Lindsay’s success and its pioneering leadership in the field of wildlife rehabilitation,” Bishop said. The New York Times Magazine recently mentioned Lindsay and called it “America’s oldest wildlife rehabilitation center.”
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About Lindsay Wildlife Experience: Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Lindsay connects people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect for the world we share. It is a unique natural history and environmental education center where live wild animals are just inches away from visitors. It serves more than 100,000 children and adults and treats more than 5,500 animals each year. Lindsay’s Hospital is a pioneer in the field of wildlife care and was recognized in 2015 by The New York Times Magazine as America’s oldest wildlife rehabilitation center.
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