Fresno Chaffee Zoo has no age limit for fun

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Dozens of employees and hundreds of volunteers help make the Fresno Chaffee Zoo run. (KFSN)

Jim Echols has a passion for animals and for students. The 93-year-old spends his free time volunteering as a Fresno Chaffee Zoo Docent and leads groups on tours.

The former Fresno State professor has been lending his time at the zoo for the past nine years, but along the way he's always had a favorite animal.

Echols said, "I've always liked the sea lions more than anything."

Jim isn't the only docent, there are 120 of them, including one of his fellow residents at the Terraces at San Joaquin Garden: Jean Harris. Jean has been at the zoo for 20 years.

"It has improved so much since I first started here," said Harris. "There's no comparison at all and it's getting more beautiful all the time."

Jean says she used to take groups on tours, but these days she's happy to answer phones and help in any task big or small. However, what keeps her going is seeing families experience and learn new things in Fresno. Zoo officials say the volunteers are an invaluable asset.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo Program Coordinator, Grace Hamaker, said, "Jim and Jean are amazing and spectacular people who have done us a great service. They became docents which mean they've taken classes to become highly trained on our animals and programs."

Together the two have been volunteering for nearly 30 years at the expanding zoo. The zoo plans to hold an upcoming training in September to interested residents.

Jim and Jean say they'll continue to volunteer as docents here at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo for as long as they can. It's a gift to our community.

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Fresno Chaffee Zoovolunteerismanimalanimal newsFresno
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