Zoo Miami
7:57 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

Why Zoo Miami Kept Donors Of Millions Secret

Zoo Miami Communications Director and Goodwill Ambassador Ron Magill helps move flamingos.
Zoo Miami Communications Director and Goodwill Ambassador Ron Magill helps move flamingos.
Credit Miami Herald

Zoo Miami Communications Director Ron Magill is an expert in animal behavior. But it was the behavior of two humans that has had a profound effect on his life.

A husband and wife, seemingly of average means, were drawn to help rebuild the facility after it was nearly obliterated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The husband came up to Magill after a speech he gave in Coral Gables about the destruction left by the storm.

He gave Magill a sealed envelope with what he presumed, from the looks of the man, to be a small donation. The gift was on one condition: that it remain anonymous until after he and his wife passed away.

When Magill opened the envelope hours later, inside was a check for $90,000.

"So I said, you know, I’m going to send it through, expecting it to come back, bounce from here to California and it went right through," says Magill. "And I was just dumbfounded."

That check was the beginning of a special relationship between Magill and Alfred and Winifred Sami. One that would last the better part of two decades and produce $2.3 million dollars for Zoo Miami.

You can read Magill’s beautiful tribute in the Miami Herald to the Samis, whose name will now be a part of the new Sami Family Amphitheater.