One dozen endangered animals popped out of a children’s book onto a vehicle wrap and are getting quite the ride.
The animals are characters in “ZOOdiac Kids” and peek out of windows and ride the top and sides of a 2022 Kia Niro EV. The 100% electric vehicle was donated in partnership with Peak Kia in Littleton in April 2022.
Called Grover, the EV’s job is to market and bring awareness of the global conservation and sustainability work of the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, a Denver-based nonprofit that provides wildlife protection and conservation training, teaches at schools, creates fundraisers and gives speaker presentations. Grover is a partner to Bert, the name of co-founder and executive director Dave Johnson’s Subaru, and Ernst, the name of Ray Lucero’s BMW — he also is a co-founder and assistant director. Grover will be making appearances at KACF’s school presentations and events.
“The car is wrapped in birthday animals,” Johnson said. “It gives a way for children to connect their birthdays with conservation.”
“ZOOdiac Kids: Together We’ll Make a World Saving Team,” published in 2015, tells the stories of endangered animals for each month of the year in place of zodiac signs. January’s animal is a polar bear, February’s a jaguar and March’s an orangutan.
Johnson, a Denver pachyderm zookeeper, wrote “ZOOdiac Kids” and two other KACF Conservation Books to help launch KACF, drawing partnerships and followers worldwide. Johnson established KACF in 2014 after losing his mentee and conservation ally, Katie Adamson, to cancer.
“The KACF is dedicated to her passion for conservation. She wanted to go to Nepal and she wanted to save wildlife and be a zookeeper,” Johnson said.
The main character in Johnson’s first two books, Sissy Sally Sassafras, is compassionate about conservation and wants to make a difference. “The Elephants of Denver,” published in 2012, tells how Sissy Sally loves animals like rhinos, penguins and giraffes. “Narayani: The Unicorn of Nepal,” which came out a year later, is about a young rhino princess named Narayani who meets Sissy Sally after a river flood and helps her save animals in Nepal and around the world.
Johnson’s fourth book, “I Am Katie,” will come out this summer to tell the story of Adamson’s passing on her passion to the next generation worldwide.
“Translated in Spanish, Nepalese and Swahili, it’s going to be a neat cultural immersion for kids,” Johnson said.
KACF offers all three books for school and organization fundraisers, donating 50% of each book sold, while helping support endangered animals. Those who get involved can become Rhino Warriors.
When Johnson retires in June, Grover will be taking road trips over the summer to help launch “I Am Katie.”
“Where’s Grover? He’s all over,” Johnson said.
By Shelley Widhalm, Raised in the Rockies
Meet Grover and learn more about the Kate Adamson Conservation Fund, wildlife protection and conservation at the 2023 Raised in the Rockies Kids Expo + Summer Camps Fair!
IF YOU GO…
Raised in the Rockies Kids Expo+ Summer Camps Fair Sat., March 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Boulder JCC, 6007 Oreg Ave., Boulder https://www.raisedintherockies.com/2023-kids-expo-and-summer-camps-fair