Pace: Phoenix Zoo and Paradise Valley connections fused forever

From left are Paradise Valley Councilwoman Julie Pace; Natalie Montenegrino; Hon. Mary Hamway; Kathy Duley; Colleeen Steinberg; and Jo Taubee-Flittie (Submitted photo)

A Paradise Valley Arts Committee road trip to the Phoenix Zoo on April 26 celebrated the reuse of the stained glass panels the town removed from the Leona Helmsley house demolition in 2007.

The town stored them for 10 years until a home could be found among the wild animals in a building designed specifically for the 16-foot-tall stained glass panels. The sun’s rays now shine through many glass African Kudu bringing their reflection onto the floor of the brand new Savanna Grill at the Zoo.

More than a decade ago, former Paradise Valley Councilmember Mary Hamway fought to save the stained glass panels form demolition. She enlisted the help of former Town Manager Bill Mead and Administrative Assistant Natalie Montenegrino to find a location to store these stunning panels until a proper reuse could be found. Mardelle Mikus and Jennifer Sands took the lead along with the Paradise Valley Arts Committee to develop this wonderful reuse in partnership with the Phoenix Zoo.

Now all can enjoy this beautiful art.

The stained glass panels were originally commissioned in 1983 by Dave and Bobbie Hansen and are made from hand blown German glass by artist Bob Berg. And, let’s not forget the primary connection the town has with the Zoo. The Phoenix Zoo was founded by Paradise Valley residents Robert and Mary Maytag in 1962. The vision in 1962 for the Maytags to create such a gem should never be forgotten. The original name of the Zoo was the Maytag Zoo, but the donors wanted it to be a regional name because they strongly believed the Zoo belonged to everyone.

Standing left to right: Natalie Montenegrino; Hon. Mary Hamwayl; Kathy Duley; Jo Taubee-Flittie; Glenda Pace; and Colleen Steinberg. Front row: Elvis the 58-year-old Galapagos Tortoise and Councilwoman Julie Pace. (Submitted photo)

The Phoenix Zoo receives no funding from the City of Phoenix, but relies solely on volunteers and donations. Its recent $12 million capital contribution campaign is being put to great use with new exhibits for the Asian Elephants, Sand Cats, Galapagos Tortoises, Aldabra Tortoises, African Lions and Spotted Hyenas, Leopards, Warthogs and Meerkats, along with a new Wildlife Amphitheater and Multi-Species Conservation Center.

The Zoo has 20 event sites.

Families or just the kids can even stay overnight to hear the lions roar at 6 a.m. There are also day-camp opportunities. Corporate events and meeting venues with animals are a big hit with adults. This is a great time to visit the Phoenix Zoo and be a kid again or take kids and grandkids.

The Arts Committee delegation to commemorate the stained glass included Hon. Mary Hamway, Kathy Duley, Jo Taubee-Flittie, Natalie Montenegrino, Colleen Steinberg, and Town Councilmember Julie Pace and they were treated to a special private tour with Trustee Jean Bingham to feed the giraffes and meet a one-month-old baby giraffe, who has not yet been introduced to the public, and to feed both Sheena the Asian Elephant and the Galapagos Tortoises.

It was a great time with lots of pride to recognize the long term positive contributions of Town residents.

Editor’s note: Ms. Pace is a member of Paradise Valley Town Council