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Fourth grade students make a big contribution to the biggest animals at the Cincinnati Zoo

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Posted at 8:48 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 20:48:55-04

CINCINNATI — What do some Mt. Lookout 4th graders, cookie dough and endangered Asian elephants have in common? Mix them all together in a bowl, and you can bake up a whole lot of caring.

‘The baker girls,’ as they’re known, have experience. They have written proof in the form of a thank you note from the Cincinnati Zoo which reads: “Thank you so much for the bake sale proceeds – the manatees eat a lot of lettuce and kale. Keep up with the great fundraising work.”

Young Marguerite Jackson took that mission to heart – and took the idea to four other girls in Mrs. Baker’s 4th grade class at Summit Country Day.

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Individually they’re known as Lucy, Mabel, Anne Marie and Ava – but collectively, they’re ‘The Baker Girls.’

After serving up the sweet stuff to raise funds for the manatees in the past – on this go ‘round, they had a bigger target in mind: the biggest land animal on the planet, in fact, the elephant.

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“When we looked into it and saw elephants were getting a new enclosure, we wanted to help them,” Maribel Hartmann said.

“We did a bake sale – sold brownies, cupcakes and cake pops,” Lucy Viveros said.

“It felt great – a lot of people donated money for the animals,” Anne Marie Misrich said.

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All told, the four girls raised $908.

“It makes me feel good,” Marguerite Jackson said. “I thought maybe two or $300, but that’s a lot more.”

“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Ava Boyer said.

That led to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a chance to meet the great ladies of the elephant exhibit up close: Mai Thai, Jati and Schottzie.

And the pachyderms were just as pleased to be introduced to the young ladies as the 4th graders were to meet the tusked titans.

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Zoo leaders made sure to thank The Baker Girls personally.

“When we found out what y’all did, I told the team, and they were very excited about what you did,” elephant manager Cecil Jackson, Jr. said.

That means the zoo has about a thousand dollars to put towards the $150 million it’s working to raise.

“These girls stepped up; the Baker Girls get it done,” said Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard.

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The elephants will get way more room in the zoo’s ‘Home to Roam’ campaign – which should also allow them to add to the herd.

“Not all zoos will have elephants – go big or go home – keep in areas big enough to breed, have them in a multi-generational herd – so this is a big commitment,” Maynard said.

The hope is for people to understand these great animals they share the planet with are worthy of protection. It's a mission The Baker Girls are proud to be a part of, proving there’s no such thing as too young to make a difference.

Maynard and Jackson, Jr. said they want more people to come to the zoo and be inspired to help. Both men said what the girls did on a local level really contributes to the global conservation campaign.