Panda zookeeper wish granted for 9-year-old Alberta girl
It was a dream come true for nine-year-old Antonina, after she spent Saturday behind the scenes at the Calgary Zoo as a zookeeper for the day.
Make-A-Wish Southern Alberta partnered with the Calgary Zoo for the experience for the Lethbridge family.
"Antonina just loves animals and especially pandas, and the pandas were here in Calgary and she just lit up when we talked about pandas," said Kim Anthony, Make-A-Wish Southern Alberta CEO.
Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children with critical illnesses.
"That’s what Make-A-Wish is about, providing that joy, strength, hope and its just such a wonderful partnership with the zoo because they’ve gone above and beyond to produce this amazing day for her."
Zoo officials were also very excited to be a part of Antonina's special day.
"We all have dreams and aspirations and if Calgary Zoo can help be apart of somebody’s wishes we want to do everything we can to help our community," said Matt Korhonen, Calgary Zoo curator.
Antonina spent the morning with the head panda keeper, helping clean and feed the animals.
"There’s only a handful of people in Canada that’ll ever get to call themselves giant panda keepers, but you know’s on that list, and she’s in there picking up panda poop, feeding them and right in there as part of the team," said Korhonen.
Antonina also helped make a birthday cake for Da Mao, the male panda who turns 11 years old on Sunday.
This year Make-A-Wish Southern Alberta plans to grant 60 wishes.