Wild Wishes Program boosted by Sea World, Jack Hanna

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

To The Leader

Wild Wishes is a program founded by Chester and Lisa Moore who operate the Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center in Pinehurst.

It grants exotic animal encounters to children who have a terminal illness or have lost a parent or sibling.

Last Sunday, kids from the program were able to see a very special wish come true.

They got to meet “Jungle” Jack Hanna, iconic television wildlife host and conservationist who has previously conducted packed lectures at the Lutcher Theater in Orange.

“I’m so glad to see you here. Thank you for coming to Sea World today,” Hanna said as he greeted the kids at the Nautilus Amphitheater at Sea World San Antonio.

The kids that came along were either recipients of a wish or young people who have been trained to help grant wishes for other children.

Facilitated by Sea World San Antonio this special, private experience was a dream come true for 10-year-old wish kid Jaxon Slone, of Deweyville, who told Hanna he wants to host his own wildlife television program one day.

“So, you want to do wildlife TV?” Hanna asked.

“That would be cool sir,” Jaxon replied as his hero patted him on the back.

Having watched Hanna many times on syndicated television, Jaxon has visions of traveling the world and encountering exotic animals.

Fourteen-year-old Lauren Williams of Orangefield who has helped by chaperoning and showing animals to more than two dozen kids at wish events over the last four years was excited to hear Hanna tell them how to be better ambassadors for wildlife.

“Allowing kids to safely see wildlife in an amazing park like this or a modern zoo or at a facility like yours is important. You have to touch the heart to move the mind and I know you all will be great at that,” he said.

The kids were allowed to hold a baby red kangaroo in a pouch and get an up-close look at a Geoffrey’s cat, a gorgeous and tiny spotted feline from South America.

After watching Hanna’s fun and highly educational program that included a beautiful cheetah, the kids were fired up about wildlife conservation and helping other kids that come into the wish program know they can help wildlife as well.

Chester Moore said they have granted 52 wishes and have seven more kids coming into the program in the next month.

“My grandmother Ruby Pickard had My Wish Inc. that granted wishes like going to Disney or a shopping spree at the mall to kids with a terminal illness. I was there for the first wish back in 1982 when I was in second grade and it had a huge impact on me,” Moore said.

“Me and my wife Lisa do this to bring the love of Christ to hurting children in a very special way-through wildlife encounters. This is just part of what we do with Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center but it’s an important part,” he said.

The facility’s growing collection of animals will be greeting many kids in 2018 and the Moore’s believe they could possibly have the 100th wish granted by this time next year.

“The program is growing leaps and bounds. If someone knows of a child that might quality, please email chester@kingdomzoo.com or visit kingdomzoo.com and contact us. It’s our hearts desire to help children facing these great challenges,” he said.

“We are also adding programs to help these kids help endangered wildlife. There is something special about kids facing challenges helping wildlife that are facing challenges. We believe it will help them know they can not only overcome the obstacles they face but make a difference in this world.”