Extreme makeover Kim Bradley and Kaye Brisco King make last-minute adjustments to a zebra that is to be auctioned off Oct. 7 to benefit the Frank Buck Zoo Zoobalee. Bradley and King bought a rocking horse at a local store and Bradley used some paint and ingenuity to turn the horse into a zebra.

One must be what one is called to be. That’s the message behind Kaye Briscoe King’s children’s book “The Zebra Who Almost Lost His Stripes.”

The book and a companion color book are the collaborative effort of three local women — King, her daughter Kim Bradley and Helen Loch. The women plan to auction the book during the annual Frank Buck Zoo Zoobilee Oct. 7 to benefit the work of the zoological society.

Bradley, a former kindergarten teacher who created the illustrations for the book, said she does not considered herself an artist.

“I’m more of a cut and paste person,” she said.

She chose to illustrate the book with collages.

“I thought the story translated well to collage, and it just came together,” she remarked.

When the women decided to launch their book — proceeds will go to the Zoobilee — they wanted a zebra to use as a centerpiece.

They bought a wooden rocking horse at local gift boutique, and Bradley gave it a makeover.

She put strips on the body, cut the yarn mane and used liquid starch to style the mane and the tail. Then she painted the yarn with black and white stripes.

Bradley said the book was written to tell a truth.

“There is a God-truth in it,” she said. “Because there’s not much of that in the world today,” she said.

The book is the story of a young zebra named Shemi who helps other animal friends on the African plain and discovers his own unique beauty.

Bradley said when King moved back to Gainesville, she wanted to become involved in the community and make positive changes. One of the ways she is doing this is through her work with Arms Around the County, Friends of the Family and other organizations designed to help local residents.

Loch, an art instructor and talented local artist, designed a companion book called “Shemi the Zebra’s Coloring Book.”

King is a Christian family counselor who has published several books — most of them teaching manuals. Bradley said her mother has been writing for years and wanted to do a children’s book.

She said she hopes the book will get residents involved in the Zoobilee.

She the Frank Buck Zoo is something for which Gainesville residents can be proud.

“It’s amazing for a town this size,” she said.

Bradley said both books will be published by a Christian media publisher and could be ready as early as next week.

Along with the centerpiece zebra, the book and the color book will be auctioned with proceeds going to the annual Zoobilee.

According to Karen Estes-Cook, president of the local zoological society, the Zoobilee is the major fundraiser for the zoo.

“The Zoobilee started in 2000,” she explained.

She said the event features a “wonderful” meal, a dance band and lots of beautiful, elaborate decorations.

The event is scheduled to be held 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 7 at the Gainesville Civic Center, 311 South Weaver Street.

The Zoological Society does good things for the zoo, Estes-Cook said.

“We do things such as buying animals. We got the giraffes, for instance. But we also do behind-the-scenes things that people don’t see,” she remarked.

She said the society was responsible for putting in some fencing at the zoo and trimming trees to keep the area looking tidy.

She said this years’ Zoobilee theme is “Flamingo Fandango.”

“It’s going to be wild, crazy fun,” she promised. “It’s the party of the year.”

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The Frank Buck Zoo will be holding an Educator Open House from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday, September 14.

This event will help local teachers to learn how to customize their classes’ zoo visits by adding an Animal Encounter Program featuring live animals held in the zoo amphitheater.

Teachers will also find out how to bring the zoo to their schools with Frank Buck’s Wild Cargo traveling outreach programs.

The outreach programs involve interactive teaching techniques and four to six live animals. Larger animals such as giraffes are not included in the interactive outreach program.

Samples from the Animal Encounters and Wild Cargo programs will be held in the amphitheater at 4, 5, and 5:30 p.m.

Participants in the open house will get free admission to the zoo, free food, a zoo tour and the chance to experience a “kiss” on the hand from some of the zoo’s gentle giants during a VIP giraffe feeding at 4:30 p.m. at the African Savannah.

Door prize drawings will be held at each animal presentation. Please RSVP online at education[at]frankbuckzoo.com or by calling (940) 668-4539.

Participants who RSVP will receive a prize and automatic entry into a grand prize drawing.

Frank Buck Zoo also offers Educator Workshops in a number of nationally recognized curricula such as…Project WILD, Project WILD Aquatic, Project Learning Tree, The Leopold Education Project, Project WET, WOW! The Wonders of Wetlands, and WWF’s – Wildlife for Sale. Information on workshops and our “Suitcase for Survival” educator resource kit will be on display during the open house. If you can’t make our open house be sure to visit us at CAST in Wichita Falls this November where we will be presenting sessions on our programs and WWF’s Wildlife for Sale and will be a field trip site for conference participants.

Frank Buck Zoo is currently open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The best time to view the animal collection “in action” is between 9-11am. There is an admission charge. To schedule customize your school field trip and schedule programs call Casey at 668-4533 or e-mail at education[at]frankbuckzoo.com. Please check out our website www.frankbuckzoo.com to find out more information about our programs and educator offerings.

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