Recently, we at the Roger Williams Park Zoo concluded a successful community fundraising effort to help defray the significant cost of major repairs at our harbor seal exhibit. Our seals, two males named Action and Bubba, are visitor favorites here and they were sorely missed during this season.

In late May, routine maintenance revealed that the entire outer viewing wall had become structurally unsafe for the animals and visitors. Demolition and construction of a new wall was estimated to cost more than $100,000, a big chunk of change for a nonprofit organization. So we kicked into high gear and began a campaign to "Bring the Boys Home."

Social media, press announcements, email newsletters, signage at the Zoo, and admissions and gift shop collections raised public awareness of the need, and the response was just amazing. Donations from more than 8,000 wonderful individuals and contributions from grants, foundations and companies generated more than $65,000. With the help of a very generous anonymous donor who provided matching funds up to $50,000, we were able to exceed our fundraising goal. In total, the effort raised more than $115,900.

This campaign would not have been so successful if it hadn't been for the dedicated Zoo staff members who helped spread the word, and visitors, members, donors, companies and foundations who donated. Action and Bubba have enjoyed a "summer vacation" at the Aquarium of Niagara in upstate New York, and thanks to this wonderful community, we should be able to bring them home by late fall. Many thanks to all!