Spc. O. A. Ayyad
3rd Brigade Combat Team Journalist
Among wolverines, eagles and other animals, there is currently only one catamount at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, Watertown. Sgt. Brendo B. Beltran, a health care specialist, led a group of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment catamount volunteers to keep it company.
Volunteers of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Rear), on March 26 helped the staff of the New York State Zoo to prepare the facilities at Thompson Park to receive a bear.
The 2-87 Infantry volunteers worked with Thomas A. Liptrott, the zoo’s maintenance supervisor.
“All animals have to be held in quarantine for a certain amount of time,” Liptrott said, noting the bear was scheduled to arrive March 28.
The zoo has seven full-time employees and three part-time employees to operate more than 32 acres, said Kurt Hunt, the zoo’s public relations director and marketing director. “That leaves a big gap,” he said.
“Soldiers embrace the physical aspect of volunteer work,” Hunt said. “Our maintenance guys appreciate having volunteers around.”
John T. Wright, executive director, said he appreciates the structure of Soldier-volunteer groups.
“The thing I love about Soldiers is their teamwork,” Wright said. “The Soldiers understand delegation and logistics, and they always finish what they start.”
Pvt. David F. Ekberg, a 2-87 Infantry signal support system specialist, and other volunteers shoveled snow and broke ice in the quarantine area.
“I like the opportunity to work in a different environment,” Ekberg said. “I enjoy helping the community. I like the scenery.”
Spc. ShaDaisiah L. Williams, another 2-87 Infantry signal support system specialist, also enjoyed volunteering at the zoo.
“I like it because it’s appreciated,” Williams said. “I love contributing to the animals; I ab-
solutely adore them.”
Staff Sgt. Michael E. Carlson, noncommissioned officer in charge of B Company, was in the trenches with the others.
“Volunteer work is a team building opportunity for young leaders,” Carlson said. “It also gives Soldiers a way of connecting to the local community.”
The catamount display includes the unit history of 2-87 Infantry.
“We try to establish a relationship with the units,” Wright said. “Soldiers are always welcomed here.”