There was a moment in 1972,
When two rare cats from a world away
Arrived at the Woodland Park Zoo
To be coo'd at, and photographed,
Before you went around the corner to see the tiger.
One person, meeting those cats for the first time,
Saw so much more than just new attractions.
That moment with Nicholas and Alexandra changed her life,
And for the next 35 years, through her actions
She changed the lives of snow leopards everywhere.
It's rare among us, passion for a cause
Coupled with the ability and desire
To pursue it, not for the applause
But simply because it's worth doing.
What one passionate person can do is a miracle.
Now and forever, others will do it for her,
Those good and caring people worldwide
She'd been gathering together for so long.
They'll cherish and protect the cats in her spirit
While the wife, mother, advocate and teacher, rests.
So the next time you go to the zoo, bless the beasts –
And bless Helen Freeman too.
Editor's note: Helen Freeman, daughter of Greek-American restaurateurs in Everett, founded the International Snow Leopard Trust in 1981 while serving as Curator of Education at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. She died Sept. 20. A celebration of her life will take place Oct. 13 at the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue.