Animal House: Resident creates new campaign for local zoo

Feb 13, 2021

Dartmouth resident Patrice Coholan loves bowling — and normally, she shares her passion with the community to support a cause.

For the past three years the vice chair of the Buttonwood Park Zoo board has spearheaded the New Bedford zoo’s annual “Fish Bowl” fundraiser.

But after this year’s bowling event was cancelled due to Covid, Coholan found a new way to raise funds for the animals: a “Share the Love” campaign selling red heart lawn signs with a paw print design.

Back in November, Coholan said, she had seen a white sign with a red heart near where she lives off Chase Road — but she didn’t know what it was.

“I had no clue,” she said with a laugh. “It just made me feel good to look at it.”

Coholan ended up meeting the woman behind the signs — a fundraiser for the Westport Food Pantry run by the Westport Grange — and the zoo’s pandemic-proof fundraiser was born.

Through March 14, supporters can buy a heart-shaped sign for a minimum $10 donation to help spread “pawsitivity” and share the love for animal conservation, Coholan said. “It’s interesting. It’s nothing we’ve ever done before!”

The campaign chair said that the signs are meant to show gratitude for animal companions, whether hugging a pet or visiting the zoo.

“We wanted to show appreciation and love for animals, and how they’ve helped comfort us during this pandemic,” she said. “A lot of people have just found comfort going to the zoo and being around the animals.”

And although the fundraiser — which started in January — is just halfway done, Coholan said that the zoo has already received more than half of its $25,000 goal, with nearly $15,000 in donations in the first month.

“It seems to be going well,” she said. “It’s fun!”

All proceeds will go to the Buttonwood Park Zoo to support its education and conservation programs as well as animal care.

Donations to the fundraiser can be made by texting LOVEBPZOO to 414-44 or visiting